The iPhone 5C became available for pre-order last Friday. On Monday, there was no press release from Apple touting boffo sales (as there has been consistently in the past). This was immediately interpreted by the market as a “disaster.”
The flagship iPhone 5S becomes available on Friday. My suspicion is that we’ll see some sort of combined press release on September 23 from Apple discussing both handsets. Supplies appear to be very low for the 5S and Apple could easily sell out of that device.
The chances of a sellout were made even better by a wave of positive reviews today from those who received the handsets ahead of the market launch. Below are some excerpts of those reviews:
- Walt Mossberg: “[T]he new iPhone 5s is a delight. Its hardware and software make it the best smartphone on the market.”
- Engadget: “Is the 5s the best iPhone ever made? Yes, though that shouldn’t come as a surprise.”
- TechCrunch: “With the iPhone 5s, Apple once again wins the right to claim the title of best smartphone available.”
The iPhone 5C is well reviewed too, though not as positively as the 5S — it’s basically an iPhone 5 with colorful cases and some performance improvements. Representative of the 5C opinions coming out, the NY Times’ David Pogue says, “It’s a terrific phone. The price is right. It will sell like hot cakes.”
The reviews of iOS 7 are very positive as well. According to just one of the many very detailed, feature-by-feature reviews: “It’s a truly sublime experience which manages to preserve the familiar aspects of iOS while providing a brand new look and feel. The redesign makes the entire user experience feel brighter and more alive. It’s not just a bit of trite marketing: updating to iOS 7 really does feel like getting a brand new phone.”
Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor is the star of iOS 7 and the 5S reviews. According to Mossberg’s review, “It sounds like a gimmick, but it’s a real advance, the biggest step ever in biometric authentication for everyday devices. After using Touch ID, I found it annoying to go back to typing in passcodes on my older iPhone.”
As I argued when it was announced Touch ID is to the 5S what Siri was to the 4S, a powerful differentiating feature. The iPhone 5S is also the fastest smartphone on the market according to benchmarking. And the 5S camera also has received accolades:
The new camera will mean more to you. Its sensor is 15 percent bigger, and the individual light-detecting pixels are bigger. Take photos side-by-side with the iPhone 5S’s predecessor, and the difference is immediately obvious; lowlight pictures are far better on the new phone. Clearer, brighter, better color.
The 5S also has two LED flashes — one pure white, one amber — that fire simultaneously. When mixed in the right balance, their light can match the color tone of your subject (moonlight, streetlights, fluorescents, whatever). Apple says this idea is a first in both phones and cameras.
It really works. Flash photos look much, much better.
These reviews will be further disseminated on local TV news and in more “mainstream” publications and outlets. The meta-takeaway for the public will be the iPhone 5S is the best smartphone available. That will stoke demand, which, as I mentioned, may not be sated this weekend if supplies are limited.
An unpublished online survey I just conducted (1,500 US adults) found that the iPhone 5s is the most desired smartphone on the market, followed by Samsung’s Galaxy devices. The 5C came in fourth place: iPhone 5S, Galaxy, Other Android, 5C. Demand for the 5S was more than 2X the 5C.
In a way this makes sense because the 5C is really a repackaged 5. The public seems to understand that.
The 5S is the truly new device, which is what Apple early adopters want.