Virtually everything about the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c leaked out well before Apple’s official event in Cupertino today—our reports on the former and latter nailed many of the details back in January. But there were still some surprises left unanswered until today, and unaddressed during the event. Here are some of the details we’ve uncovered since then.
10. The iPhone 5c and 5s each ship in four different LTE models—per capacity, per color. Despite noting that the new iPhone 5c has more LTE bands than any other smartphone, Apple is actually shipping an astonishing four different versions of each iPhone color and capacity. This Apple webpage shows which models will work on which carriers. Notably, the U.S. will have only two iPhone 5c/5s models, one supporting AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon (plus all Canadian carriers), the other for Sprint. The first will be useless for international LTE, and the second will support two Japanese carriers (KDDI + Softbank).
9. Device sizes and weights are just a little different. The iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s have the exact same dimensions and weights—4.87” by 2.31” by 0.30” with a 3.95-ounce weight—a fact that Apple’s proud of, given that the 5s contains additional Touch ID fingerprint scanning and improved camera hardware not found in its predecessor. By comparison, the iPhone 5c is 0.03” taller, 0.02” wider, and 0.05” deeper, but 0.7 ounces heavier. We’ve already discovered through hands-on testing that the iPhone 5 and 5s fit into some early cases designed for the iPhone 5c.
8. The iPhone 5s’s camera improvements are a collection of small changes rather than one or two big changes. Apple’s switch to a f/2.2 aperture lens improves the camera’s ability to gather light, and snap blur-free images; the 15% larger 8-Megapixel sensor will also help with light gathering, to the tune of “33% greater light sensitivity,” as Apple puts it. The True Tone flash uses twin LED lights, one white and one amber, to adjust the photos automatically to replicate natural ambient light conditions. Burst mode and the 720p “slo-mo video” mode enable the camera to snap tons of images per second—ten 8-Megapixel images per second, or 120 0.9-Megapixel images per second.
7. Goodbye, FaceTime HD? Apple appears to be dropping support for FaceTime HD calling, at least over Wi-Fi. Despite noting an improvement to the front-facing camera in the iPhone 5C, making the pixels bigger and improving low-light performance, Apple has stopped making references to FaceTime HD calling. It now promises only 480x368 calls over Wi-Fi, even though the FaceTime cameras on the iPhone 5c and 5s are capable of 1280x960 photos and 1280x720 videos. This may be a result of a recently publicized patent lawsuit lost by Apple, which has required it to use relay servers for FaceTime calls.
6. Both of the new iPhones appear to have seen very specific battery improvements, though testing will be needed to quantify the changes. As compared with the iPhone 5, which promised 8 hours of 3G talk time and 8 hours of LTE browsing with 225 hours of standby time, the iPhone 5s and 5c both promise 10 hours of 3G talk time and 10 hours of LTE browsing, plus 250 hours of standby time. However, other promised battery numbers—3G browsing, Wi-Fi browsing, video playtime, and music playtime—have all stayed the same. Our testing always reveals major differences between Apple’s numbers and real-world performance, so you can expect to hear more on this point next week.
5. Apple has added a 3X zoom feature to video recording on the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s. It will be interesting to see how this actually performs, but it’s independent of the “video stabilization” promised by the iPhone 5c and “improved video stabilization” promised by the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5 has this feature; the iPhone 4S does not.
4. iPhone Docks are back, and a new Lightning cable, too. Apple conspicuously introduced iPhone 5s Cases (made from leather) and iPhone 5c Cases (made from rubber), but made no mention during the keynote of the new iPhone 5c and 5s Docks—separate models sculpted to each device, each $29, and with both Lightning-in and line-out capabilities. The latter feature makes these the first docks to include audio-out since the introduction of the Lightning standard. Apple also debuted a $29 Lightning to USB Cable (2m) with six feet of length.
3. iOS 7 beta ices iCloud-OS X keychain. While almost all of iOS 7’s beta features remain unchanged for the final release, two small but noteworthy features (iCloud Keychain and Password Generator) apparently are going to be turned off at first. Since they’re linked into OS X Mavericks, the new Mac operating system, we’d expect that the feature will go live when Mavericks is released—presumably in October.
2. The iPhone 5c can be preordered, but the iPhone 5s cannot. Apple is starting preorders for the iPhone 5c on its web site starting on September 13, 2013, but will only allow the iPhone 5s to be ordered on September 20—the same day it becomes available in stores. This should reduce lineups somewhat, while leaving particularly excited buyers of the more expensive model to stand in line. Note that contract-free pricing for the iPhone 5s will be $649 (16GB), $749 (32GB), or $849 (64GB), with the iPhone 5c going for $549 (16GB) or $649 (32GB).
1. China did get cheap iPhones, after all. Sort of. Despite everyone’s expectation that the iPhone 5c would be “cheap” for “China,” the prices are actually the same as with prior models—the 16GB model is RMB 4,488 (versus 4,488 for the 16GB iPhone 4S before) and the 32GB model is RMB 5,288 (versus 5,288 for the 16GB iPhone 5 before). However, Apple dropped the Chinese iPhone 4 and 4S prices by roughly $80 to $200, keeping both of those models available at lower prices for Chinese consumers. In the United States, the iPhone 4 disappeared and the iPhone 4S became “free” on contract.
Bonus: iPods? What iPods? Apple didn’t mention the iPods much during the keynote, and amazingly didn’t make any price or model tweaks to the lineup afterwards. The iPod classic’s still there at $249. iPod touch 16GB at $229, with $299-$399 32GB and 64GB models, iPod nano at $149, and iPod shuffle at $49. The only difference: the prior slate black versions have been swapped for “Space Gray” metal to match the iPhone 5s’s lighter gunmetal-like tone. Apple’s still shipping the pre-2012 models (and the iPhone 4S) with the old Apple Earphones, too. The iPod family’s sinking sales will likely continue to sink further… unless Apple makes bigger changes at the event expected for next month.
We’ll have much more to say on the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s soon.