In just a few short weeks, Apple is expected to debut the device that will replace the iPhone 5, last year’s iPhone model. The device is not expected to be the iPhone 6 but the iPhone 5S, a device that will replace the iPhone 5 as the company’s flagship but a device that almost certainly won’t replace the iPhone 5 as an option completely.
In 2012, Apple announced a fairly big overhaul to the company’s iPhone hardware. It replaced the glass iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S design with one made out of aluminum. It bumped the iPhone up to 4-inches instead of the usual 3.5-inches that consumers had seen prior. And it also added on 4G LTE data speeds, something that buyers had been anxious about for years.
All of those features came on board the iPhone 5, a device that also ushered in the era of iOS 6. The era of the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 will soon come to an end though as Apple is widely expected to be delivering a new iPhone, and a new iOS update in just a few short weeks.
The device that is thought to be replacing the iPhone 5 is a device called the iPhone 5S, an ‘S’ version of the iPhone that will feature some hardware upgrades but will likely step aside and give the spotlight to Apple’s new software.
iOS 7, which was first announced in June at WWDC, represents the biggest overhaul to iOS, well, ever. It features a brand new design, a host of new features, and some major tweaks to existing ones. It’s expected to debut, in full, with the iPhone 5S in just a few short weeks as Apple is rumored to be hosting an iPhone launch event on September 10th, just a few days after the debut of the Galaxy Note 3.
Of course, the arrival of the iPhone 5S doesn’t mean that the iPhone 5 will simply vanish and fade away. The device will live on, in some capacity, and will remain a viable option to those looking to buy a new smartphone.
Those weighing their options ahead of the iPhone 5S launch date likely have both the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5 on their radar, and here is what to expect from that battle once it arrives.
iPhone 5S Release Date Soon
Those looking into buying a new iPhone in the near future should know that a new iPhone model is close. Apple is heavily rumored to be launching the iPhone 5S at an event on September 10th, likely somewhere in Northern California. The event is will likely have Apple showcasing the benefits of the iPhone 5S and iOS 7. It also should see Apple announce an iPhone 5S release date.
Apple typically announces concrete release dates at its launch events so buyers should expect to hear about one in just a few weeks. Those dates are usually just a few weeks after the launch and already we’ve heard that September 20th may be the release date for Apple’s new iPhone.
That’s not set in stone but as we’ve pointed out, a release before September 28th is likely thanks to Apple’s earnings guidance for Q4 2013.
So while nothing is confirmed, buyers should expect the iPhone 5S to be released soon which means that the iPhone 5 will soon be replaced as the flagship device. For many, waiting a few weeks before buying will be the best move.
Apple is also expected to announce a cheap version of the iPhone dubbed iPhone 5C. The device is expected to be a low-cost, plastic iPhone variant that offers a bunch of color options, a 4-inch Retina Display, an 8MP or 5MP camera, and a Lightning port. This would unify Apple’s aspect ratios while also aligning its docking ports, something that is huge for accessories.
Rumors have been flying around about whether the iPhone 5C will replace the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, or the iPhone 4. While some, John Gruber of Daring Fireball included, believe that Apple will push out the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 in favor of the iPhone 5C, Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities claims the iPhone 5C will instead push out the iPhone 5 leaving Apple with a lineup that looks like this:
- iPhone 5S – $649 and up off contract
- iPhone 5C – $400 off contract
- iPhone 4S – $300 off contract
In the past, Apple has dropped its most recent iPhone down in price to $99 on-contract, something that up until recently, was thought to be happening with the iPhone 5.
At this point, it’s something that is extremely difficult to predict. History points to Apple keeping the iPhone 5 at $99 and abolishing the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4. Logic also points to Apple wanting to unify its aspect ratio for apps, ports for accessories, and possibly getting all of its devices up to LTE data speeds, something that the iPhone 4S doesn’t have.
So at this point we expect the iPhone 5C to push out the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4. However, if Kuo is right, don’t expect the iPhone 5 to just fade away. We should see retailers still carry it, for a spell, and it will be widely available for pre-paid carriers and on places like Craigslist.
Leaks and history point to Apple keeping a familiar design for the iPhone 5S. Apple’s past ‘S’ models, the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4S, both kept the overall design of their predecessor and rumors point to Apple doing the same with its latest iPhone model.
We will likely see some subtle differences, a dual-LED flash on the back of the iPhone 5S is one notable thing that buyers can expect to change from the iPhone 5, but the dimensions including the iPhone 5’s 7.1mm frame and 112 gram weight should be about the same. Buyers should also expect the same anodized aluminum shell for the iPhone 5S.
Camera quality is expected to be a big difference between the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5 featured a good camera in the form of its 8MP rear camera sensor. The camera is capable of shooting good quality photos and video and isn’t a slouch when it comes to taking footage in noisy or low-light environments.
However, Apple typically changes the iPhone camera year-after-year and with camera technology progressing rapidly, the writing on the wall suggests that the iPhone 5S will have an improved camera.
Rumors point to a 12MP to 13MP camera on the iPhone 5S with dual-LED flash. The camera is also expected to feature bulbs that will help capture better, natural looking photos. There is also talk about 120fps video and slow motion video being unique features for the iPhone 5S.
Whatever the case may be, expect the iPhone 5S camera to trounce the iPhone 5’s.
When it comes to performance, there are two things that buyers will be concerned about, speed and battery life, and the iPhone 5S is rumored to improve on both of those.
Whispering suggests that the iPhone 5S will come with a better processor than the Apple A6 chip that is found inside the iPhone 5. Rumors point to Apple’s new A6X chip or a new A7 being inside the iPhone 5S. Apple tends to upgrade the iPhone processor year-after-year so these rumors are very plausible.
What this means is that the iPhone 5S should be faster than the iPhone 5. It may not be noticeable at first, but over time, particularly when new updates arrive, the better processor’s prowess will become more noticeable.
It’s also possible that a new processor will help better manage battery life and rumors suggest that the iPhone 5S battery might also be larger than the iPhone 5’s. Apple doesn’t tend to drastically alter the overall battery life year-after-year but it’s possible that we could see a slight increase with the iPhone 5S.
Overall, the iPhone 5S should be equipped to deliver better all-around performance, something that buyers signing a new two year contract need to think about as older devices tend to fade much quicker as time goes on.
Both devices will be arriving with iOS 7, and all of the announced features at that. Apple has confirmed that iOS 7 for the iPhone 5 will bring everything that has been announced so far including AirDrop functionality. However, that doesn’t mean that the iPhone 5 will have the same software as the iPhone 5S.
No, buyers need to expect that the iPhone 5S will feature different iOS software. Last time out, Apple introduced Siri with the iPhone 4S, a unique software feature that was one of the company’s biggest selling points. With only a few hardware upgrades and no redesign, Apple will likely rely on software once again with the iPhone 5S.
Just what it has up its sleeve is unknown though it could be related to the camera or the fingerprint reader that is rumored to be on board adding extra security.
Simply put, there is no way that these will share the same iOS 7 software and it will likely be the iPhone 5 that gets the short end of the stick. It will be up to buyers to decide whether the unique feature or features is worth it.
The iPhone 5S will come with an assortment of storage options, no doubt about it. It’s just that we still don’t know which storage options those will be. Rumors suggest that there will be a 128GB iPhone 5S model though it’s something that has failed to materialize before.
At this point though, given increasing file sizes, the Galaxy Note 3’s all but confirmed switch to a 32GB base model, and the introduction of a 128GB iPad, there has been no better time for a 128GB iPhone to arrive. If it does arrive, it’s unclear if it will join the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB options or if it will replace one of them. If it doesn’t arrive, buyers can expect the usual from Apple. At the very least, again, there will be a bunch of options.
The iPhone 5 won’t be as lucky. Apple tends to offer its lesser iPhone models with limited storage. If it doesn’t get replaced by the iPhone 5S, Apple will likely sell it with either 16GB or 32GB with 16GB being likely given that the iPhone 4S is offered in such a way.
However this plays out, expect the iPhone 5 to be more limited, at least officially. Those going through other routes will be able to find used iPhone 5 models with more storage space.
The iPhone 5S is all but confirmed to be adding another color to Apple’s usual black and white. A gold iPhone 5S is almost assuredly coming with the white and black colors, giving buyers a chance to get a new color without putting on a case.
It’s not clear if this will be a unique feature of the iPhone 5S or if it will extend to the iPhone 5 as well. Expect it to be a unique feature as Apple brings a ton of tricks out of the hat to sell the iPhone 5S.
The iPhone 5C is expected to debut in a host of color options so those that want a different color may have that option available if the champagne looking iPhone 5S isn’t up to snuff.
Expect the usual suspects plus one. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon will likely all carry the iPhone 5S at launch and U.S. Cellular should also offer it as the carrier confirmed it would be getting the iPhone later this year.
It’s possible that U.S. Cellular could offer the iPhone 5 as well as one of its budget options though that remains unclear.
Buyers should expect the iPhone 5S to hit several smaller, regional carriers in the United States as well, following in the footsteps of Apple’s previous iPhone 5 release.
As we’ve mentioned, it’s tough to gauge the price of the iPhone 5 at this point. If the iPhone 5C replaces the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4 as a cheap unlocked or on-contract device, the iPhone 5 will almost assuredly drop to $99. If the iPhone 5C replaces the iPhone 5, it replaces the iPhone 5 and the device’s price tag is thrown into flux.
The iPhone 5S price will more than likely stay at the usual $199.99, even if Apple does bump the 16GB model in favor of the rumored 128GB model.