TECHNOLOGY

Apple Unveils Souped-Up iPhone

There were at least a couple surprises Tuesday at Apple's big iPhone unveil event.
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Well, not all the news leaked before Apple's big event in California today.

Apple announced the iPhone 5S as the first 64-bit smartphone ever made and uses the new Apple A7 processor, which has over 1 billion transistors inside.

For business users, this means more bang for the buck (and size). The native iPhone apps were re-built for the new 64-bit operating system.

The best way to describe a 64-bit chip is that there is more "room" for the code to breathe--more "brain power" to speed up apps. It's a bit like having more lanes for traffic on the highway. A 64-bit processor makes apps feel snappier and more responsive, not struggling inside a limited amount of memory on the phone.

This means, the iPhone 5S is twice as fast as the previous chipset, according to Apple. The graphics performance is 56 times better than the previous generation, per Apple.

Of course, for the myriad of small companies that make mobile apps because of the low start-up costs and faster delivery cycle, there's a question about whether 64-bit app development will become more time-consuming or complex.

Apple says this is not the case, but to take advantage of the faster processor, existing apps will have to be ported to 64-bit.

Apple also announced the new M7 processor, which runs alongside the main processor inside the 5S. Essentially, it means the phone can sense the difference between activities like walking or driving a car. The Moto X already has the capability to sense when you are driving (as part of the Motorola Assist features), so this is another "me too" innovation.

The 5S also has a fingerprint reader called TouchID built into the Home button that can quickly unlock the phone. This is a major innovation in biometrics, mainly because it is easily accessible using the button we already use to access the phone. With the added security, business users can deploy the phone with a bit more assurance that a hacker will not break into the device.

In case you're wondering about how it all works, Apple assured everyone that the chip on the phone works directly with the sensor and unlocks the device--your fingerprint data is not sent to the cloud where it can be hacked (or unencrypted by the NSA).

The 5S will cost $199 for the 16GB version, $199 for the 32GB version, and $399 for the 64GB version--if you sign up for the two-year contract. It comes out September 20.

A second device, the iPhone 5C, is the expected budget model and comes in five colors like cyan and bright green. The unibody construction means the entire shell has no sealed edges, and inside there is steel reinforcement to make the phone solid and durable--not chintzy like some budget models.

The 5C does not use 802.11ac like the recently announced Moto X smartphone. That means, for business use, the 5C won't transfer files over Wi-Fi at Gigabit speeds (which requires an 802.11ac router). The 16GB model is $99 on contract and $199 on contract for the 32GB version.

Apple also dropped a reminder that the iOS 7 release is coming on September 18. The free download will work on existing iPhone models. For business users, there's a single swipe airplane mode and a pull down menu to access search. Siri now has either a female or male voice. There are new text tones and ringtones, some that sound like a techno band made them just for this operating system.

AirDrop, a peer-to-peer file transfer system that doesn't require you to have a degree in Bluetooth configuration, will also debut. And, one of the bigger announcements for business users: productivity apps like Keynote (for presentations), Numbers (for spreadsheets), and Pages (for writing and design) are now free.

I'll post a full review with detailed specs once I get my hands on both models.

IMAGE: Courtesy of company
Last updated: Sep 10, 2013

JOHN BRANDON | Columnist

John Brandon is a contributing editor at Inc. magazine covering technology. He writes the Tech Report column for Inc.com.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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