Cupertino – Apple has unveiled an iPhone with a fingerprint scanner to help it stand out in a crowded field of similar smartphones, plus a cheaper plastic model for emerging markets.
The iPhone 5C comes in five hues – blue, green, pink, yellow and white.
Apple has been losing ground to Samsung and Huawei in emerging markets such as China, and a more affordable 5C was deemed instrumental to helping it claw back market share.
It also needs to sharply expand its existing distribution. Apple did not today address speculation that it is on the verge of signing a distribution pact with China Mobile, the country’s biggest wireless carrier with more than 740 million subscribers.
But a notice posted on a Chinese government website said regulators had, in an expected move, granted a licence to allow the iPhone to use China Mobile’s home-grown mobile network, which is different from the standard used by existing iPhone carriers China Telecom and China Unicom.
Other details of the two new iPhone models had been telegraphed ahead of time in several media reports, leaving the US launch devoid of major surprises.
The pricier 5S comes in three colours – grey, silver and gold. It sports a faster processor, a camera that takes bursts of photos and chooses the best, and the fingerprint scanner that unlocks the phone with a touch.
It also includes a separate chip, called the M7 Motion co-processor, which can track motion data continuously without heavily draining the battery.
That opens the door to better track sports and fitness-related user activity, now the domain of wearable devices like the wrist-worn Fitbit, and lets developers experiment with apps that make use of those functions.
Carolina Milanesi, an analyst with Gartner, called it “brilliance” on Apple’s part, in that it gives them potential exposure to the wearable-devices market without having to actually design and rush out a gadget of their own, such as a smartwatch.
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