CUPERTINO, Calif. -- Apple has grown too big for just one iPhone.
That is why Apple is releasing two new iPhones this month instead of just one, including a cheaper model aimed at less wealthy countries where new Apple phones have been desired but out of reach because of their price.
"It has an incredible new design," said Philip W. Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing. "One that's more fun, and more colorful than anything we've made before."
The lower-cost model, the iPhone 5C (the "C" for color) comes in a plastic case and has the same features as the now-outdated iPhone 5. The fancier model, the iPhone 5S, comes in aluminum and includes a faster processor and fingerprint sensor for security, among other features. The iPhone 5S costs $200 with a contract, and the iPhone 5C costs $100 with a contract.
Both iPhones will be available on Sept. 20. Apple announced a partnership with NTT Docomo of Japan, but not a highly anticipated partnership with China Mobile, the biggest carrier in China. It will be the first time Apple has been able to release its phones at the same time globally.
With its profit growth slowing, and smartphone sales surging in countries like China, India and Russia, the cheaper iPhone is targeted at what analysts call "aspirational consumers" in those countries -- the top 10 to 20 percent who are slightly uncomfortable about spending more money on a fancy brand, but might be convinced at the right price.
Apple especially hopes to be big in China, now the largest smartphone market in the world, where the company is being beat by Chinese manufacturers of low-cost smartphones running Google's Android software system. Sales of Apple products in China were down 4 percent in the second quarter compared to the same period last year.
Apple was careful to not make the iPhone 5C sound cheap. It emphasized that many key parts were made of a high-quality polycarbonate material, and underneath the plastic is steel reinforcement. And Apple added networking parts that make the phone compatible with global cellular networks.
At full price without a contract, which is how many overseas carriers make people pay for phones, the iPhone 5C costs $550 -- only $100 less than the iPhone 5S. That is far higher than the $300 to $400 range that many analysts expected.
The more expensive phone, the iPhone 5S includes a chip called M7, a processor dedicated to sensors that detect movements, which will enable the iPhone to support smarter health and fitness apps. The iPhone 5S comes in three metallic colors: silver, gold and dark gray.
The iPhone 5S's fingerprint scanner, located on the physical button below the screen, is the biggest difference between the new iPhone and the previous one. It is made of a sapphire crystal on the outside, with a steel detection ring and a the fingerprint sensor underneath. An iPhone owner can simply touch the button to bypass the phone's lock screen, instead of adding a passcode.
Along with the new iPhones, Apple announced that a major upgrade for its mobile software system would be available Sept. 18. The software, iOS 7, introduces thin typography and more vibrant colors. It removes textures that made some apps mimic real-life objects in the previous operating system.
First Published September 10, 2013 5:45 PM