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Apple’s iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C: Roundup of the latest rumours

The iPhone 5S will be unveiled on 10 September, according to fresh reports as we noted yesterday. The iPhone 5S will then be released shortly after, probably alongside its new and cheaper sibling, the iPhone 5C. Since Apple shifted the release schedule of its iPads, it’s possible that we’ll also see a new iPad and iPad mini at the same event, resulting in a complete Apple whitewash of the mobile computing market for at least the month of September, but probably for the rest of the year.

What do we know about the iPhone 5S so far? As always, we seem to know a lot – but we won’t be able to confirm the leaks and rumours until the 10 September unveil. What seems fairly certain at this point is that we will get an iPhone 5S (not the iPhone 6), and a cheaper, plastic-backed version called the iPhone 5C.

The iPhone 5S will receive incremental hardware upgrades, while the iPhone 5C will probably have similar specs to the current iPhone 5. The cheaper 5C, as you have probably heard, will be specifically designed to capture the mid-range market, where Apple is currently losing huge tracts of turf to Samsung. For more details, let’s dive into the iPhone 5S and 5C individually.

iPhone 5S: Hardware and software specs

The best leaks currently peg the iPhone 5S hardware as a somewhat incremental upgrade of the iPhone 5. There will the same dual-core CPU (but clocked a bit higher), an upgraded quad-core SGX544MP4 GPU, 2GB of RAM, and an IGZO screen (for increased brightness and/or reduced power consumption). The camera should be bumped up to 12-megapixels, and there should be a dual-LED flash. In terms of new features, the iPhone 5S will apparently have NFC and a fingerprint reader.

Another option is that Apple will embed the fingerprint scanning technology in the display itself, though we think that’s unlikely; the Home button makes a lot more sense.

As always with an “S” model, we don’t expect anything too crazy, hardware-wise. To be honest, I still think Apple will wait for the iPhone 6 before introducing the fingerprint reader, but we’ll see. Software-wise, the iPhone 5S will of course run iOS 7, which will be released for other iOS devices around the same time.

iPhone 5C: Hardware and software specs

The iPhone 5C is essentially a slightly curvier, plastic-backed iPhone 5. The C probably stands for “Colour,” but of course this model is expected to be a lot Cheaper, too. So far, Apple has relied on cut-price older iPhones to capture the mid-range market, but as this market continues to grow (thanks to developing markets in Brazil, Russia, India, China), Apple has been losing ground to Samsung and other smartphone makers. With the rich Western markets reaching smartphone saturation, and no visible strategy from Apple on how to compete with the growing threat of Samsung, Apple’s stock value has been steadily nibbled away by Wall Street.

Like the fingerprint scanner, I think it makes more sense to debut an iPhone Lite/mini alongside the iPhone 6 – but the rumour mill is obviously against me here, insisting that we will see an iPhone 5C. Sometimes with Apple rumours, it’s hard to separate what the analysts want Apple to do (an iPhone mini) with what Apple wants to do. It’s pretty clear that the mid-range market is running away from Apple, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple will chase after it – it may decide to stick to the very-high-margin premium smartphone market.

Anyway, back to the iPhone 5C’s specs: Expect something very similar to the iPhone 5 (dual-core CPU, tri-core GPU, 8-megapixel camera), but with a plastic back. These plastic backs should come in a variety of colours, and will almost certainly be permanent – you won’t be switching out your iPhone’s chassis for another colour. Again, software-wise, the 5C will run iOS 7.

With two new iPhones, and perhaps two new iPads as well, it’s clear that the 10 September event will be massively significant, both for consumers and shareholders. With Samsung taking control of the smartphone market over the last year, and its dominance of the tablet market being diminished by Google, Amazon, and Samsung, Apple will need to deliver something spectacular next month. We’ll be there, of course, and reporting it live.

While you’re here, you might also want to read: Could a budget iPhone mini help Apple regain smartphone supremacy?