Sept. 15--After months of the tech world working itself into a frenzy over new iPhone models, we finally got them. And for the most part, the rumor mill spoiled the big surprises.
So how effectively did Apple revamp the lineup? Read my takes on the main model iPhone 5s and the budget iPhone 5c.
Let's get this out of the way first: it's long past time to stop expecting yearly revolutions in smartphones.
The product category, once shiny and new, is now common and mature. The various manufacturers regularly put out models that work at least reasonably well, and there's little they're lacking. Some genius could manage an unexpected bolt from the blue at some point, but for the most part, the basic concept of a smartphone is well fixed for now.
A much better expectation, for Apple, as well as other smartphone makers, is evolution. Does the phone provide enough improvements to justify an upgrade once your contract is up?
In the case of the iPhone 5s, the answer is yes.
Apple made a big point about its new A7, 64-bit processor, but here's the rough technobabble translation: It's faster. Over time, all smartphones should get beefier processors, so that's really just meeting basic requirements.
More interesting is the M7 processor, devoted to continual and more precise motion measuring through the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass. That opens up the possibility for app makers to create even more interesting applications based on how you move the phone around. Yet as of now, it's just potential.
Then there's the camera. It's still 8 megapixels, but megapixels are no longer everything. Apple says its lens has a better aperture for low-light shots and a white and amber flash that will automatically combine in 1,000 different ways to give you exactly the light you need.
And the fingerprint scanner? It's not necessary, but if it works as advertised, it could be a quick and secure way to lock your phone and quickly make iTunes purchases.
I've heard the security concerns, but your smartphone already has a gigantic security hole -- the password. All forms of security are ultimately flawed, but fingerprint sensing should be more than good enough for most of us.
The 5s seems like a solid step forward.
At first it seems a little crazy for Apple to offer a new device at a non-premium price. But with Google giving away Android for free and other smartphone makers able to put together dirt-cheap phones, Apple might not have had any choice.
But a closer look at the phone shows it's made with familiar parts. It's pretty much an iPhone 5 with a new case.
That's not a bad thing, and here's why:
It doesn't compromise performance. This $99 model can't compete with all the bells and whistles of the 5s, but the iPhone 5 is much stronger than the majority of $99 smartphones now available. Apple resisted the urge to slap its name on garbage.
We finally get new colors for the iPhone. It's a superficial thing, but remember when Apple started releasing iPods in every color of the rainbow? They sold like crazy, and I got a purple one. I wouldn't bet against a hue-based sales burst here.
The phone feels new. It may perform like last year's model and have a price previously reserved for Apple's last year models, but it's technically a new product. That should help boost its appeal.
App of the week: Human (iOS)
Getting in some exercise doesn't necessarily mean brutal workouts at the gym. Even walking has its benefits, as long as you do enough of it.
Human aims to make sure you get a little light activity during the day.
Keep Human on, and it'll track how much you've walked, jogged or biked. It's outside only since the GPS will know if you're inside.
Once you've hit 30 minutes of activity, Human will let you know. And the app will let you track where you've walked and let you share your progress on social networks.
Suggest an app for App of the Week at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow us on Twitter
Follow @RobertEvatt to get the latest tech news and insight from World technology writer Robert Evatt.