Apple picks

The whiz kids in Cupertino introduced the gleaming new iPhone 5S as well as a lower-priced iPhone 5C. The 5C is more or less the iPhone 5, but with a colorful plastic, rather than metal, backing. The 5S mirrors its predecessor in size and shape, but it comes in three colors: gold, silver and space gray.

I knew something was up when I was handling a demo model of the new gold iPhone 5S the day it came out and two different customers saw the gold-backed phone and commented that I was lucky to have one.

“Lucky?” I thought. “Can’t they just request that color?” Apparently not. The gold model seems to be in short supply, while obtaining silver or space gray is no problem.

By the end of the year, the gold will likely be easy to find. Why the shortage? Why the gold rush? Who knows?

So on to what makes the 5S different from the 5. Aside from the choice of colors, it has a faster processor and a better camera and flash; and in the first change to the home button, it is now a sapphire crystal enclosed in a metal ring. The crystal enables fingerprint recognition to unlock the phone and to purchase apps. It allows for more than one finger on file, just in case. The processor is an A7 chip with 64-bit architecture. It also has an M7 motion coprocessor. The chip makes it run faster on LTE, and the M7 serves as a motion sensor for health and fitness apps.

The 5S also boasts 10 hours of talk time and 250 hours on standby. The iSight camera has an 8-mexapixel camera, sapphire crystal lens cover, true tone flash and options to add filters and easily swipe between photo and video, as well as a slow-motion option. With a two-year contract, it goes for $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB and $399 for 64GB.

While some advance buzz about the 5C derided it as a Mr. Cheapo version of the iPhone, it is, in fact, a quality phone that comes in white, pink, yellow, blue or green. It is the same size and shape as the 5 but is encased in a colorful polycarbonate reinforced with steel. It doesn’t look or feel cheap, and actually isn’t all that cheap. But don’t mistake the casing for a case; it can still crack if dropped.

A television ad by Apple for the 5C declares it is for the colorful and shows an array of odd and eccentric people enjoying the phone in places around the world. Apple also has made no secret that it plans to use the phone to make inroads in countries like China and India.

It’s no slouch in the looks department, or in speed or capabilities. The 5C has an A6 chip, uses the speedy LTE wireless and has an 8-megapixel camera. The C, with that pesky old two-year contract, goes for $99 for the 16GB model and $199 for the 32GB model.

If that’s still too rich for your blood, the 4S is free with a two-year contract. The original iPhone 5, however, is out of production.

Perhaps the biggest news from Apple was the introduction of the iOS 7 operating system. It comes standard on the two new phones and is available for download on models dating back to the iPhone 4. With a completely new look and interface, it’s kind of like getting a new phone for existing users. Everything seems brighter, and the type is thinner. Apps seems to float above the background, and shapes and bubbles in the background move as the phone is tilted.

For those looking to upgrade, the 5S is probably the best bet and will have the longest shelf life. The 5C, however, is a nice phone that has most of the same features as its more expensive sibling. Put each in a case and it will be hard to tell them apart.

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