Imagining iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C: Setting expectations for 2013

Collecting and analyzing the rumors surrounding Apple's 2013 iPhone lineup, including the anticipated high end iPhone 5s and less expensive iPhone 5c

Apple will be holding its annual fall event - now an iPhone event - on September 10 in Cupertino, California. There, it's widely anticipated they'll announce their next generation high-end iPhone 5s and their first less-expensive iPhone 5c. The former might look familiar on the outside, but sport all new features inside. The latter might have some snazzy new, plastic color casings, but the same guts as last year. Yet the finer points of both design and components, and despite a steady stream of rumors and leaks, nothing is official until an Apple executive holds it up on the keynote stage. With that in mind, we have reason to believe some of the rumors and leaks have been accurate. We've gone over some of this previously in separate articles, but now we're rounding them all up and adding some new stuff. That way we can start setting reasonable expectations, even while we wait to be wowed!

iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c event preview podcast

Rene and Peter, joined by Mark Gurman of 9to5mac, round-up all the rumors surrounding Apple's upcoming iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c event including design, chipsets, radios, cameras, fingerprint sensors, pricing, and more! If you don't want to read, you can watch or listen.

Previously on iPhone...

iPhone 5 version history

Apple introduced the original iPhone back in 2007, instantly obsoleting every other smartphone on the planet in every way that mattered. Over the next two years, with the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, Apple increased functionality while simultaneously lowering price, taking the smartphone fully out of the niche and making it mainstream. The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S continued that evolution, bringing support for broader carriers and faster speeds, better displays and new, natural language interfaces. The iPhone 5 took manufacturing to new levels and the screen to new heights, but most importantly it set the stage for what's coming next - iOS 7, the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, and more. Without knowing where we've been, it's impossible to know where we're going. While Apple keeps its secrets, they also keep to patterns. (At least until they don't.) This is the story of Apple's revolutionary phone. Of Steve Jobs' phone. Of the iPhone. And for many of us, our phone.

Imagining iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c: Casing, display, and design

Imaging the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c casing designs

When it comes to the iPhone, Apple has gotten into a pattern of tick-tock hardware releases. One year they unveil bold new designs and manufacturing processes, the next year they improve the chips, cameras, radios, and other components inside it. If Apple sticks to that pattern, we're in a tock year and that means the general design of the iPhone 5s should be pretty much the same as last year's iPhone 5... though with a potential twist. iMore already told you about the gold iPhone 5s - and there's also likely to be the equal but opposite iPhone 5c this year as well. "Equal but opposite" in that iPhone 5c might save all its changes for the outside. So what does that mean?

Imagining iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c: Apple A7 processor, RAM, and Storage

Imagining iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c: Apple A7 processor, RAM, and Storage

If Apple holds to pattern, we're in the tock year of their tick tock hardware release schedule. That means that while we may not get any exciting new external designs, we should be in for some amazing new internals, including the system-on-a-chip, storage, radios, cameras, and other components. Faster. Better. Stronger. At least for the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5c will likely be the exception that proves the rule, becoming the less expensive option by saving all its changes for the outside. So what will all that translate into when the silicon hits our hands?

Imagining iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c: LTE, Bluetooth, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and no NFC

Imagining iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c: LTE, Bluetooth, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi

The iPhone is an amazing piece of technology in many, many ways, and a lot of those ways are predicated entirely on the radios, on being connected. It's that persistent connection, to the internet and to other devices - the connection of things - that makes it so powerful, that will make the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c so powerful. Whether those radios, for cellular networking, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi get upgrades this year remains a question, as does whether or not a near-field communications (NFC) chip will ever make an appearance in an Apple product.

Imagining iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C: iSight and FaceTime cameras

Imagining iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c: iSight and FaceTime cameras

For several years now, Apple has made the camera a priority on the iPhone. It's one of the world's most popular cameras, and every keynote for the last few years, an entire segment has been devoted to both its optics and its processing. With the upcoming iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c that's not going to change. Apple are masters of using software and hardware not only in tight integration, but in a way that creates far more than the sum of the parts. The iPhone camera is one of the best examples of that. So where can they take it next?

Imagining iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c: Fingerprint scanner, sensors, and ports

Imagining iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c: Fingerprint scanner, sensors, and ports

If the rumors are true, the 2013 flagship iPhone will be a S-class update, just like the iPhone 3GS in 2009 and the iPhone 4S in 2011. That means that while the overall look and feel won't change, some special new feature will be offered to make it a more enticing upgrade than it seems on the surface. Video recording and Siri fit that bill the last two times. This time it seems like it'll be a fingerprint scanner. Could any additional new or updated sensors come along for the ride? What about speakers or connectors or other new hardware? When the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c are introduced next week, just what exactly will be introduced along with them?

Imagining iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c: Pricing and availability

Imagining iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c: Pricing and availability

New designs, new processors, new radios, new features big and small, at the end of the day it still all comes down to how much it costs and whether or not you can even get it. Urban myth tells us Steve Jobs was responsible for dreaming Apple's amazing products into existence, but Tim Cook was the one who figured out how to get them made as efficiently and economically as possible. For the iPhone 5s there probably won't be any big surprises, though there could be some storage size and color option twists. For the iPhone 5c, however, it could be a whole new thing.

Imagining iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c: Naming

Imagining iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c: Branding

After everything is said and done, all the parts are assembled and the specs added up, all the chipsets accounted for and radios lit up, the price set and availability pegged... we still need to know what to call Apple's next-generation iPhones. Sure, iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c are what they're being called in almost every report on every site and in every paper, but until they're locked and loaded at Apple, and until they're announced up on stage, we won't know for sure. But are there any other possibilities, and if so, what are they?

Imagining iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c: Miscellany

There's a lot of things people may want in a next generation iPhone. A Home button that serves as a notification light or even mood ring. A glowing Apple logo on the back. A digitizer in the screen. Swappable back-plates and a user-replaceable battery. Hypersensitive capacitance recognition (so you can use the screen with thin gloves on.) Even a kickstand.

None of those are likely this time around. Some of them aren't likely any time around. But you never know!

iOS 7 preview

When Apple introduces their new iPhones, iOS 7 will absolutely be along for the ride. Code-named Innsbruck, iOS 7 was introduced by Apple during the WWDC 2013 keynote back on June 10. A radical visual departure from previous generations of iOS, it focuses on clarity by removing all but the most essential interface elements and shifting from buttons to tinted text, deference by getting out of the way of content and apps, and depth by building the entire experience around a physics and particle engine that moves, blurs, parallaxes, and layers in virtual 3D. It touches every app, every pixel, and likely very nearly every bit of the system. It ships this fall, and here's everything you need to know about it.

More to come

We'll be providing our usual comprehensive color, commentary, and analysis during and after Apple's "Brighten your day" iPhone event, and once the new iPhones have been shown off in all their glory, we'll be back with an updated preview and complete buyers guide.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.