Here are my immediate first impressions on Apple’s iPhone models, the 5C and 5S, which the company launched on Tuesday and allowed reporters to test after the press conference at its Cupertino, California, headquarters.
With the iPhone 5C, Apple is gunning for a new market. It hopes the lower price tag will attract consumers who can’t afford the more expensive iPhone 5S, but has it sacrificed quality in this cheaper iPhone?
Based on my limited time with the handset, the answer appears to be “no.”
The plastic case of the phone didn’t feel “cheap” or low quality. It has a high-gloss finish and was comfortable to hold, much like the iPhone 3 models. The phones are colorful, and Apple is also offering a series of equally colorful and stylish cases to accessorize the phone to match your style.
The bright colors and new case aside, the phone was just as much an iPhone as the more expensive model. It lacks the new processor powering the iPhone 5S and its fingerprint sensor, but the iPhone 5C’s performance didn’t disappoint.
It runs the new iOS7, so it offers many of the same software improvements as the iPhone 5S. It was fast launching apps and didn’t have any problems handling a preloaded photo gallery, taking pictures using the new iOS7 camera app or anything else I did with it. In short, it felt zippy.
One of the big new features on the iPhone 5S is the fingerprint sensor. It’s embedded into the home button and can be used to unlock the screen without a passcode. When I heard about it, I had my reservations. I’ve used fingerprint sensors on phones and PCs before and the experience was bad enough that I always switched them off.
On the iPhone 5S, it’s very easy. In fact, the toughest part was registration, which requires users to repeatedly press their finger on the home button, so the software can scan and gain enough data about the fingerprint. It took about 15 seconds to accomplish. Once done, opening apps was easy.
With the phone locked, it literally took just a touch to unlock and jump to the home screen. The wait time was minimal, around one second or less. Unlike my previous frustrating experiences, the fingerprint lock should make it faster and easier to get into your home screen while keeping it secure from others.
The new flagship of the iPhone range comes with a new 64-bit processor that will provide performance enhancements, according to Apple. Some of those gains will come in longer battery life or slightly faster launch times for apps — both things that were difficult to test in the limited time I had.
Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service.