CUPERTINO, California (AFP) – Apple has unveiled two new iPhones, fielding a slick new top-end model along with one aimed at budget-conscious smartphone shoppers around the world.
“The business has become so large that this year we are going to replace the iPhone 5 and we are going to replace it with two new designs,” Apple chief Tim Cook announced at the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters on Tuesday.
Apple will begin taking orders on Friday, and on September 20 the two devices will go on sale in the United States, Australia, Britain, China, France, Germany, Japan and Singapore.
The iPhone 5C is part of Apple’s bid to counter the flood of low-cost smartphones from rivals, most of which use the Google Android operating system.
Apple designer Jony Ive said that despite the lower cost, the polycarbonate iPhone 5C with a steel frame “is beautiful.”
The iPhone 5C with 16 gigabytes of memory will start at $99 with a two-year U.S. carrier contract and $549 without a contract — $100 less than previous iPhone base models.
“The 5C is a no-compromise device,” Gartner analyst Van Baker told AFP after trying out Apple’s new phones. “It is just in a plastic case instead of a metal case, and they basically reduce the price by the cost of materials.”
But Baker said it was an “open question” whether the price cut for the iPhone 5C would be enough to attract customers in emerging markets.
“Anyone expecting Apple to come truly down-market with the iPhone 5C was fooling themselves,” said Ovum analyst Tony Cripps.
“The day that happens is the day the company signals that it has run out of headroom for expansion.”
Apple would not name its China telecom launch partners, who might step in with subsidies to help push down iPhone prices there. Apple planned a separate press event in China on Wednesday.
The top-line iPhone 5S, which starts at $199 with a contract for U.S. buyers and $649 without one, “is the most forward thinking phone we have ever created,” said Apple vice president Phil Schiller.
“It is the gold standard in smartphones.”
Schiller said the 5S model includes a speedier chip which puts computing performance on par with desktop machines.
“It has over a billion transistors in it,” he said, adding that the device will be a mobile game lover’s delight with blazing smooth, rich graphics.
The 5S will also have some 10 hours of talk time, or 40 hours of music listening, Schiller added.
Apple introduced a fingerprint sensor for the iPhone 5S as a new security measure in place of passwords.
“You can just press the home button to unlock your phone,” Schiller said. “You can use it to authenticate iTunes purchases.”