With two new iPhone models, Apple aims to entice buyers of premium devices while also appealing to more price-conscious customers in foreign markets.
Apple and other handset companies have been under pressure from U.S. law enforcement officials to find ways to deter mobile device thefts, sometimes referred to as "Apple picking" in a nod to the popularity of Apple's mobile devices among thieves.
The addition of a fingerprint scanner presents the potential for improved security, but security experts like Ashkan Soltani contend that biometric technology is bad for privacy. Even so, recent revelations about the ease with which the National Security Agency can access data on smartphones makes the entire notion of smartphone security suspect, particularly if the device is in someone else's hands. Touch ID's greatest value may turn out to be its capacity to placate lawmakers, to reassure corporate and government buyers, and to offer a feature found on few competing Android phones.
Apple insists fingerprint data is stored locally, encrypted and never uploaded to company servers. To that, Twitter user Stefan Esser responded, "the US government already has all our fingerprints and ... it is a lot easier to force a finger onto a button than a password from [a] brain." But for most consumers, the convenience of not having to remember a password may be compelling.
The iPhone 5c also comes in two configurations: 16 GB ($99) and 32 GB ($199) with a two-year contract. It comes with a plastic back plate, rather than a metal one, in one of five colors: green, white, blue, pink and yellow. It features a 32-bit A6 processor, a 4" Retina display, dual band Wi-Fi, LTE support, Bluetooth 4.0, and an 8-MP iSight camera. Apple is also offering $29 colorful silicone rubber cases for its plastic phone.
Perhaps just as significant as Apple's announcement of new mobile hardware is the potential opening of a new market for Apple devices. Bloomberg reports that Apple is expected soon to announce a deal with China Mobile, the world's largest mobile carrier. The partnership will offer Apple the chance to compete for the hearts and minds of some 700 million China Mobile subscribers.
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