Gold iphonesConfirming weeks of rumors, Apple Inc. executives on Tuesday unveiled a new, gold-colored iPhone 5S and a cheaper iPhone 5C designed to appeal to overseas markets.

The iPhone 5C borrows a page from Apple’s iPods and will come in multiple colors. Prices start at $99 for a 16-gigabyte model and $199 for a 32 GB model — both with two-year contracts. The 5C features a case made of plastic, which Apple’s design guru, Jony Ive, described as “beautifully, unapologetically polycarbonate.”

Apple marketing head Phil Schiller called the 5C’s higher-end brother, the iPhone 5S, the “most forward-thinking phone ever” that’s been designed to run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications and will include an upgraded camera and a new fingerprint sensor to provide convenient security.

Several analysts embraced Apple’s upgraded 5S.

“You can’t underestimate how important security has become for consumers,” said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies. “The camera clearly delivers a new set of features, larger pixels, a wide space for images and all these filters. It’s just absolutely stunning. It’ll make the iPhone 5S one of the best smartphone cameras available.”

Investors and advertisers also may be impressed by the new phone’s 64-bit upgrade, which Bajarin called the “kind of new processing power that will allow software developers to create even more interesting and powerful applications, not just games. It’ll provide a more intense experience and increase the speed of video and the quality.”

The iPhone 5S will cost $199 for a 16 GB model, $299 for a 32 GB version and $399 for a 64 GB model — all for two-year contracts. An “unlocked and contract-free” version carried by T-Mobile will be available for $549 for the 16GB version and $649 for a 32GB model. The iPhone 5S will come in silver, gold and “space gray.”

Pre-orders for the iPhone 5C will begin Friday, and the phones will be available for sale Sept. 20.

Apple also will keep its 8 GB iPhone 4S, which will be available for free on a two-year contract.

Some analysts said Tuesday’s presentation offered no surprises after weeks of leaked media reports; Apple stock fell $11.53, or 2.3 percent, to close Tuesday at $494.64. Shares dipped slightly in after-hours trading.

“There were no surprises at all,” said Bob O’Donnell, an analyst at technology research firm IDC. “Some people are going to be disappointed.”

The iPhone 5C is not a “cheap” version of the iPhone, noted Avi Greengart, an analyst with market research firm Current Analysis.

“It’s an iPhone 5, just made out of different material,” Greengart said.

Apple’s announcements came as the company arguably needs another hit product. As a company, Apple’s sales growth has slowed to a crawl and its profits have slumped. Meanwhile, its stock price, despite recovering recently, is still down more than 30 percent from the highs it set last year.

While Apple’s iPhone sales have held up better than its tablet and computer sales, they still have been hit by the slowdown in the company’s business. And thanks to that slowing growth, Apple’s market share in smartphones has slumped. In the second quarter, Apple held about 14 percent of the worldwide smartphone market, compared with about 19 percent a year earlier, according to Gartner.

One of the attention-grabbing aspects of the iPhone 5S is its new level of security aimed at preventing anyone else from accessing the phone. Apple’s fingerprint recognition “Touch ID” sensor, built into the phone’s home button, is designed to scan through the sub-epidermal layer of skin.

Fingerprint information will be encrypted and stored inside the A7 chip and will not be backed up to the iCloud or to Apple’s servers, according to an Apple video.

The Touch ID technology also can be used to make purchases at any of Apple’s iPhone stores — to buy books, music, movies and apps — without entering a password.

Forrester analyst Frank Gillett called the new fingerprint security system “jaw-droppingly easy” and “the first painless biometric I’ve seen.”

Tony Cripps, principal device analyst at Ovum, said, “Apple is certainly offering meaningful innovation here. Moving to a 64-bit architecture means Apple can genuinely claim to have brought something new to the smartphone party. It should certainly help the company further cement its lead as a mobile gaming platform and will give the Android fraternity something to think about in a space whose significance is sometimes downplayed beyond the gaming world.”

Apple executives began their presentation by announcing that the iOS 7 operating system will be available for download next Wednesday for iPhone 4 models and above and for iPad 2 models and above.

Source: MCT Information Services