Apple debuted the next iPhone generation, set to go on sale Sept. 20, on Tuesday.
The company also said it will release a previously announced overhaul of its operating system for iPhones and iPads on Sept. 18.
The iOS 7 adds an iTunes radio station, new photo management tools and more ways to access apps. It will be available free and is compatible with Apple devices dating to the iPhone 4 released in 2010 and the iPad 2 that debuted in 2011.
In a mild surprise, Apple also said it will begin giving away its iPhoto, iMovie, Numbers, Pages and Keynote apps as part of iOS 7. The company has been charging 99 cents to $4.99 for each of them. As a counterattack against increasing Android market share, Apple has designed a less expensive iPhone called the 5C. The prices for it will start at $99 for a 16-gigabyte model with a two-year wireless contract.
Although the 5C is Apple’s least expensive new iPhone, the company is trying to ensure it’s not viewed as a substandard product. The lower-end phone is pretty much the same as the iPhone 5 except it’s housed in plastic casing instead of aluminum.
The 5C will be available in five colors – green, blue, yellow, pink and white. It features a 4-inch Retina display screen and is powered by Apple’s A6 chip. It also has an 8 megapixel camera, live photo filters and a rear cover that lights up.
Apple is hoping loyal customers who have consistently upgraded since the first iPhone came out in 2007 will again rush out to buy the top-of-the-line model. It’s called the iPhone 5S, which Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller hailed “as the gold standard of smartphones.” Apple is even selling the 5S in a gold color. It will also be available in silver and “space gray.”
The luxury phone contains a 64-bit chip instead of a 32-bit chip. That will enable it to run applications and play games twice as fast as the iPhone 5. Apple also loaded the 5S with technology designed to produce sharper photos. The camera is equipped with larger pixels and a larger aperture. The phone has a “true-tone” flash feature.
The 5S’s biggest innovation, though, might be in how it’s unlocked. Instead of a four-digit code, the 5S contains a thin scanner inside the home button that recognizes a user’s selected fingerprint. The scanner also can be tied to Apple’s iTunes and apps store.