Apple has unveiled the latest iPhones — the 5C and 5S — and says they will replace the current iPhone 5. Apple also says its next mobile operating system, iOS 7, will be available as a free download on Sept 18.
Craig Federighi, head of software at Apple Inc., said at an event at the company’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters that “downloading iOS 7 is like getting an all new device.”
The new system can be downloaded on the iPhone 4 and later models, as well as on the tablets beginning with the iPad 2.
The iPhone 5C will be available in five colors and retail for $99, while the 5S will include a fingerprint “Touch ID” and retail for $199 with a two-year contract. They’ll both be available in stores on Sept. 20, and the 5C will be available for pre-order on Friday, Sept. 13.
Apple also says it expects to ship its 700 millionth iOS device next month. Apple CEO Tim Cook predicts that iOS 7 will become the most popular mobile operating system in the world.
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article.
- Steve Henn, NPR technology correspondent. He tweets @HennsEggs.
JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:
Well, now to Cupertino, California, where Apple is moving beyond black and white. At its annual fall product event, executives have unveiled iPhones that come now in green, blue, pink and yellow.
MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:
But what about that rumored gold iPhone?
NPR's Steve Henn is following the event from Silicon Valley and joins us now. Steve, so is there a gold iPhone?
STEVE HENN, BYLINE: Yes, there is a gold iPhone. And there is a Santa Claus. Yeah, they're also offering gold - iPhones in black, which they've done for a long time. And a new color, space gray.
HOBSON: And there's also this cheaper version, right, Steve? The iPhone 5C? Some are even saying the C stands for cheap.
HENN: Right. I saw a couple tweets like that right after it was announced. The iPhone 5C is really very similar to the iPhone 5, which was released last year. But it has a plastic case. And it comes with these bright colors, as you mentioned - you know, pink, yellow, green, and the insides of the phone are very similar to the phone that I bought a year ago. But it's going to be sold for $99, which could make it attractive not only in the United States but in markets around the world, which is something that Apple's been struggling with.
CHAKRABARTI: Okay, so besides those different colors, I guess the market expansion is a big deal. But what really - what really did Apple accomplish with this event?
HENN: Well, heading into this event, I was wondering if there would be more in it for Wall Street or more in it for consumers. And you know, there actually is a lot going on today that seems to be aimed at Wall Street. As I just mentioned, you know, introducing a low-priced phone was important because it's seen as a way to help Apple compete in developing markets like China. There's going to be another press conference later today in China and it's widely expected that Apple will announce it cut a deal with China Mobile, which is the largest telecom wireless provider on the planet. They have hundreds of millions of subscribers. Something like 10 percent of all phone subscribers in the world get their service through China Mobile, so by cutting a deal with China Mobile, they'll be able to start selling iPhones to hundreds of millions of customers who couldn't get them before.
But really this is all sort of aimed at analysts who follow Apple on Wall Street, and I was curious if there would be a lot of new products that would excite consumers.
HOBSON: And, Steve, I should say as we talk about this that our director was typing away on his Blackberry. So not everybody cares about what Apple is doing. But what about this - we've got to talk about this fingerprint thing. Tell us about that.
HENN: Right. So that probably is the one piece of technology that I think could capture lots of people's imaginations. It is a fingerprint scanner that's built into the start button on the iPhone. It's called Touch ID. And basically the idea is that the scanner will replace passwords. So instead of having to enter in a password when you buy a new app or a product or start your phone, you just touch your finger. And it's probably - I'd expect it'll be the biggest deployment of biometrics ever. So it'll be interesting to watch.
CHAKRABARTI: Well, for the millions of iPhone users who may not want to actually upgrade to these new phones, there's also something else on the software side, a new IOS, right?
HENN: Right. You know, there are hundreds of millions of people who have iPhones or iPads already, and starting September 18 they'll be able to download a new operating system that is really almost completely different from what people have grown used to. You know, the dominant metaphor in the Apple operating system has been, you know, a reference to physical objects. So if I open voice memos, I see this beautiful 1940s-era microphone, and it tells me that I'm supposed to talk into the phone. If I open the notepad, I see yellow-lined paper. All of that is going away. And the new operating system will be sleeker, it will do some really nice, innovative things, but it's going to be a big change for, you know, millions and millions of people to get used to.
HOBSON: Steve, Nokia UK sent out a tweet after the event saying imitation is the best form of flattery, since of course they've already got some colorful phones. But is Apple worried and does this have anything to do with the recent news that Microsoft plans to buy Nokia's cell phone division and really become a major player perhaps in the U.S. smartphone market.
HENN: Yeah, I think it's unlikely that Microsoft has inspired fear at Apple at this point. I mean you know, Nokia and Microsoft have a tiny fraction of the smartphone market. But one thing I do think is interesting about this merger deal is that, you know, it perhaps is the final victory of Steve Jobs. He thought technology companies should be vertically integrated, make software and hardware together. And you know, now both Microsoft and Google have followed that lead.
HOBSON: NPR's Steve Henn in Silicon Valley. Steve, thanks so much.
HENN: My pleasure.
HOBSON: And with that, from NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Jeremy Hobson.
CHAKRABARTI: I'm Meghna Chakrabarti in for Robin Young. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.