iPhone 5C and 5S: Hardware Upgrades Fueled by a More Important Software Upgrade

A first look at Apple's latest smartphones.

Cupertino, Calif. Sept. 10, 2013 — -- Wait, two iPhones? What? Why? Yes, in case you missed it, earlier today Apple revealed two new iPhones -- the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C.

The phones are best described as, well, iPhones, albeit in some new colors and with some new tricks. Which one should you get? Are they everything we thought and more? Here are my first impressions.

iPhone 5S: A Phone After Your Fingertips

As we all expected, the iPhone 5S looks like the iPhone 5 though with a more elegant design thanks to a new gold color option and the swanky, sapphire glass home button. Indeed, the smooth new home button now has a fingerprint reader, or what Apple is calling Touch ID. And it works just as Apple's Phil Schiller detailed this morning.

You go through the setup process of training the phone to know your fingerprint by following some onscreen instructions and tapping your finger on the button. Then when the phone knows your print, you just tap once on the button and then tap again. Boom! You're logged in. It doesn't take more than a second, much faster than inputting a PIN or using one of those clumsy fingerprint sensors on a laptop.

The phone really does seem to complement the software incredibly well, but the design of the phone, at least the pink and green colors, strikes me as somewhat too playful. It could just be my, dare I say, higher brow taste, but the phone does remind me of a kiddie phone. It doesn't feel like one, though. While it is made of plastic, it feels solid and sturdy, especially for its $99 price.

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The division between the phones is pretty clear. The 5S is for the person who wants all the speed, elegance and features of the newest iPhone and wants to pay top dollar for them at $200 with a two-year contract. The 5C is for the person who doesn't need all the latest and greatest and is just fine with that for $99. (Note that the 5C will actually replace the iPhone 5 on shelves.)