Apple touted snazzy tech upgrades and splashes of color as it rolled out its latest revamp of the iPhone Tuesday, debuting a premium 5S model featuring a faster processor, upgraded camera and fingerprint sensor, as well as a less expensive, plastic 5C version.
Both models, which were unveiled at a media event held at the company's Cupertino, Calif. headquarters, will be available in stores Sept. 20. Prices range from $99 for most basic 5C model to $399 for a 64-gigabyte version of the flagship 5S.
Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, touted the highly anticipated 5S model as the "most forward-looking phone we have ever created," during the press event, according to a live blog on www.engadget.com, saying its new 64-bit processing chip is twice as fast as the previous model.
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"The iPhone 5S is a huge leap forward in mobile computing performance," Schiller said, according to the blog.
The phone, which will be available in gold, silver and "space grey," also comes with new "TouchID" sensor that "reads your fingerprint at an entirely new level," allowing users to unlock the phone or authenticate a purchase on iTunes with the touch of a finger, and a camera Apple says is designed to take better photos. Prices with a wireless contract will range from $199 for a 16 gigabyte version to $399 for the model with 64 gigabytes of memory.
The 5C, seen as an attempt to counter less expensive smart phones produced by rival companies and broaden Apple's customer base in the U.S. and abroad, was described as "simpler, more essential, more capable and more colorful," according to Engadget's live blog. The plastic phone will be available in blue, white, pink, yellow and green cases, according to the blog. Features include 4-inch retina display, an 8 MP iSight camera and a higher capacity battery, Tech Crunch reported.
The 16 gigabyte version will cost $99, while the the 32 gigabyte model retails for $199 with a two-year contract. Cases cost $29 each.
The company also announced that its new iOs 7 operating system will be available for free download Sept. 18. The system upgrade, which Craig Federighi, head of software at Apple Inc., said "is like getting an all new device," is compatible with the iPhone 4 and later models, as well as the iPad 2.
Both phones, available on all four major wireless carriers in the U.S., will also hit the shelves in Australia, China, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore and the United Kingdom on Sept. 20. The company is set to hold a second media even in China tomorrow, a move seen as a sign of the growing influence of the Chinese market.
Apple has waited longer than usual to roll out it latest updates to the popular product. The delay for the traditionally annual release fueled speculation ahead of Tuesday about what features the new generation would include and whether the design upgrades would be enough to stave off increased competition from Android and other rival smart phone companies offering new models at a lower price point.
The fanfare about the new features, and the $99 starting price tag, appeared to fall flat with Wall Street investors -- stock prices for Apple were down 2 percent, about $11, at the close of the market Tuesday.