Yesterday Apple announced two new iPhones. In years gone by that news would have riveted people to their seats, had crowds out in the streets chanting Steve Job's name and set the press all a-quiver. But this time around media coverage was remarkably muted as was the public reaction. Has Apple lost it's mojo? Is its kit simply no longer that exciting? Have we gotten blasé about new tech? Is Apple simply being beaten by the likes of Samsung whose Gear smartwatch pulled in the headlines last week? Should you give a monkey's about Apple's new iPhone handsets? Read on.
First the 5C. In the nutshell this is a re-skinned iPhone 5 with a plastic body available in a range of colours. As of yesterday the 5 is no longer for sale, its place being taken by the £469 16GB 5C. As you can see from the price, talk of a cheap iPhone was premature and wrong. £470 is not cheap for a phone with a 4-inch screen, £300 is cheap for a phone with a 4.7-inch screen like the Huawei P6.
As the 5C offers no technical advance over the 5 there really is little to say about it. It's a phone you buy only if you can't afford the £549 16GB iPhone 5S. Speaking of which.
Externally the 5S is very similar to the 5 in fact the weight and external dimensions are identical but it comes with some new back-panel colours (silver, gold and space-grey) to compliment the black and white fascia and reverse end-cap colour options.
Inside the 5S has a faster chipset called the A7 which Apple says is twice as powerful as the A6 component in the iPhone 5 and supports 64-bit operating systems like what iOS 7 is. There is a new co-processor chip too called the M7. This takes care of the motion data such that as that fed from the accelerometer. According to Apple this paves the way for a new health and fitness apps and devices to be used with the iPhone 5S. Nike is apparently already working on an exclusive app that will take full advantage of these new capabilities.
Make no mistake, the 5S is a powerful device. But like the latest generation of Android phones (including the Galaxy S4 and HTC One) the extra power is bordering on meaningless in the real world. As for supporting 64-bit operating systems, this is an irrelevance to 95% of smartphone users, and still will be when the next version of Android joins iOS 7 as an OS that does.
Also new is an improved camera (still 8MP but with a larger sensor, larger sensor pixels and a wider aperture f/2.2 lens), a fingerprint scanner built into the home button and improved version of Siri. There are also some free apps like Keynote, Pages, Numbers, iPhoto and iMovie most of which used to require that you pay for them.
What hasn't changed is the screen size or resolution or the absence of storage expansion through a Micro SD card. Or the silly asking price. The 32GB version will cost you £629, the 64GB an colossal and eye-watering £709. Keep in mind that means the 64GB version is £80 more than the 32. A good 32GB Micro SD card can be bought for £15.
The good news is that the fingerprint scanner seems to work quickly and entirely reliably. That said I still wouldn't trust it. I don't trust any fingerprint scanners in commercial gadgets - they all work until the day they don't and then you can't access your own device and are royally stuffed. From what I could see the camera update is a worthwhile step forward though how it will compare to the monster snappers in the likes of the new Sony Xperia Z1 (20.7MP) and Nokia Lumia 1020 (41MP) remains to be seen.
iOS 7 which ships on the 5C and 5S is a also a long, long overdue update of Apple's ageing mobile OS interface but since it is rolling out free to iPhone 5 and 4Ss it's no reason to upgrade and while the redesign is visually impressive it brakes no new ground and looks a lot like some third-party Android launchers I could name. And that's about it.
Verdict: In my opinion the 5C isn't cheap enough by a long, long chalk and the 5S isn't anything like the same leap forward that recent flagship devices from Nokia, Samsung and HTC have been (with standard redefining cameras, screens and speakers). Has Apple lost its mojo? It's beginning to look worryingly like it has.