Apple introduces two new iPhones…and fingerprint ID
By Tracey Dowdy
By now you’ve surely heard that Apple has unveiled two new versions of the iPhone. From a hardware standpoint, they’re basically the same phone (with a few significant differences) but directed at very different markets.
The 5C is the less expensive version, with an “unapologetically plastic” case available in an array of bright colors certain to appeal to a younger demographic. Both phones have an improved camera with live filtering – another feature that will definitely appeal to the Instagram/Vine/Snapchat crowd.
The 5S, the more expensive option, has a metal casing available in gold, silver, or gray, giving it a sleeker, more polished look. Clearly this is the iPhone for grown-ups. In fact, the Apple website uses terms like “seamless design,” “luxurious,” and “elegant” in describing the 5S, similar to the way high-end cars are marketed.
The lower cost model – the 5C – sports the following features:
- Choice of five eye-popping colors: green, blue, yellow, pink and white
- 4” retina display
- 8 megapixel camera
- Live photo filters
- Rear cover that lights up
- Powered by Apple’s A6 chip
- Available in 16 or 32 gigabit models
- Price with two-year contract: $99 for the 16GB model; $199 for 32GB
The second model – the 5S –offers all the same features with a few notable differences:
- Choice of 3 colors – silver, white or what they’re calling “space grey”
- Powered by Apple’s A7 chip – said to be twice as fast as the A6
- Available in 16, 32 or 64 gigabit models
- “Touch ID” – fingerprint reading technology
- Price with two-year contract: $199 for 16GB; $299 for 32GB; $399 for 64GB
According to Phil Schiller, senior vice-president of worldwide marketing at Apple, the 5S, is “the most forward-looking phone we have ever created.”
The fingerprint reading technology appears to be the one feature garnering the most attention. Here’s a description from the Apple web site:
“Put your finger on the Home button, and just like that your iPhone unlocks. It’s a convenient and highly secure way to access your phone. Your fingerprint can also approve purchases from iTunes Store, the App Store, and the iBooks Store, so you don’t have to enter your password. And Touch ID is capable of 360-degree readability. Which means no matter what its orientation — portrait, landscape, or anything in between — your iPhone reads your fingerprint and knows who you are. And because Touch ID lets you enroll multiple fingerprints, it knows the people you trust, too.”
I’ll be honest – my first reaction was “Great, another way for hackers to steal my identity” because let’s face it, as smart as developers are, hackers are just as smart. In fact, the only difference may be their moral compass.
Leaving my fingerprint out there in the netherworld seems like rolling the dice in a game of craps I can’t afford. Of course, most of us have fingerprints digitally recorded somewhere – driver’s license, passports, police background checks for our jobs – but it felt somewhat secure in the hands of law enforcement or a government agency. That seems charmingly naïve in light of the recent revelations of the NSA snooping around in our figurative closets.
As a result, Apple has been quick to reassure the public that fingerprints will not be sent to the cloud. “All fingerprint information is encrypted and stored securely in the Secure Enclave inside the A7 chip on the iPhone 5s; it’s never stored on Apple servers or backed up to iCloud.”
What a reversal. I remember when getting to back up everything to the cloud was the answer to our prayers. Now it feels a little more like the old adage “be careful what you wish for.”
For me, it’s something of a moot point, since I’m not in the market for a new phone. I like to keep up with the latest gadgets but I’m usually content to live vicariously through my tech-rabid friends. However, I’ll be watching carefully to see how this all plays out in a post-Snowden world.
Both phones will be available September 20th. iOS7, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, will be available September 18th as a free download.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology.