Apple squares up with new phones

Oliver Smith
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APPLE last night unleashed its latest salvo in the smartphone war with the launch of the updated iPhone 5s and a lower-cost, brightly coloured iPhone 5c, making its first move into the competitive mid-range market.

Despite Apple’s senior vice president Phil Schiller dubbing the iPhone 5s “the most forward-thinking phone perhaps anyone has ever made,” market response to the launch was muted, with shares closing down two per cent.

The hotly anticipated launch had been seen as Apple’s answer to the growing dominance of rival Samsung, particularly in Asia where it has struggled to maintain market share.

But analysts were disappointed that price hasn’t been pushed even lower. Without a contract the iPhone 5c will start at £469 for the 16GB model – just £80 cheaper than the new iPhone 5s.

“The iPhone 5c mid-range price point doesn’t really answer the ‘China problem’, creating a lower-end cheaper device for the Chinese market where Android has had huge gains,” said James Chandler, head of mobile at Mindshare UK.

Chief executive Tim Cook also confirmed that the iPhone 5 would soon be replaced with the new flagship iPhone 5s, which will run the new iOS 7 operating system.

Starting at £549 off contract Apple claims it will have double the overall performance of the iPhone 5, including a fingerprint sensor integrated into the home button to recognise the user’s identity.

Many were waiting for the outcome of a separate event in Beijing overnight where Apple is expected to confirm the new phones will soon be available on China Mobile – opening it up to the world’s largest network with an estimated 745m subscribers.