Apple Inc. introduced Tuesday (Sept. 10) two new iPhones, including an "iPhone 5c" based on Apple's A6 processor, available in five colors, starting at $99.
Also unveiled on Tuesday, the pricier "iPhone 5s" comes in three colors, promising improvements in the processor speed of A7. The iOS7 software features a fingerprint-scanner that can unlock the phone with just a touch.
The more important of the two is the cheap one, the iPhone 5c, because Apple's China strategy goes nowhere without it.
Expectations are rampant that Apple will make an announcement in Beijing -- the morning of Sept. 11 (China time) -- that China Mobile is joining its iPhone network.
Apple badly needs China Mobile's more than 700 million subscribers to become a serious player in the world's fastest -rowing smartphone market. A deal between Apple and China Mobile has been percolating through a series of negotiations for almost a year.
It's not immediately clear whether Apple's new iPhone 5c, if carried by China Mobile, will support China Mobile's proprietary TD-SCDMA and its upcoming TD-LTE networks.
China Mobile has had limited success with its own TD-SCDMA 3G technology, lagging behind rival China Unicom and China Telecom in 3G network penetration, 3G network subscribers and market share. The blame goes to TD-SCDMA's incompatibility with other 3G networks in China, as well as the constrained TD-SCDMA network coverage offered by China Mobile.
If Apple's iPhone 5c immediately supports China Mobile's emerging TD-LTE, along with TD-SCDMA, this might look like overkill for the moment. But China Mobile is pushing LTE hard. It would be a major Apple blunder if the iPhone 5c isn't ready for TD-LTE.
China Mobile's plan to spend $7 billion this year to build its LTE network is not just the usual big talk. The plan is real, and China's largest mobile operator is proceeding with urgency. As Eran Briman, Ceva's vice president of marketing, told EE Times recently in an interview, "China Mobile hopes to leapfrog 3G" with a faster rollout of TD-LTE.
Key features of the iPhone 5c announced include: A6 processor, 4-inch display, 8 megapixel camera, and retina display. Phones come in five color schemes (green, gray, light blue, peach, and yellow), matched by iOS 7 wallpaper, and a steel structure serves as an antenna. The 5c at 16 Gigabytes is priced at $99 with a contract; 32 Gigs will cost $199.