iPhone 5s Gets Sweet Upgrade. Samsung Says: Me, Too!

iPhone 5s. Source: Apple.com.

The smartphone battle is as heated as ever. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) just launched its new iPhone lineup, and Samsung is already voicing its plan to quickly imitate its biggest competitor. Is Apple's first-move advantage enough to get the wheels under Apple's stock moving?

Apple's blazing chip to be mimicked
Two times faster than its predecessor, the A7 system-on-a-chip is some great technology. It's the first time -- ever -- a 64-bit architecture found its way into a smartphone.

Moore's Law isn't running out of gas yet. Just check out this chart that Apple showed at the iPhone launch.

Phil Schiller speaking at the Sept. 10 Apple iPhone event. Source: The Verge.

Paired with Apple's motion-sensing M7, the iPhone 5s is a powerful computer.

Unfortunately for Apple, competition moves fast these days, Samsung in particular.

"[O]ur next smartphones will have 64-bit processing functionality," said Samsung co-CEO Shin Jong-kyun in response to Apple's recent announcements.

Even worse, this means that Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) is probably already developing a 64-bit version of its Android operating system. With Samsung's flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy Note 3 running on an Android OS, Google would have to launch a 64-bit version of its Android OS for Samsung's next-generation smartphones to use a 64-bit chip. That means Google will lay the foundation for other original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs, to jump on the 64-bit bandwagon.

Splurging on Apple's untapped opportunity
Thanks to Google's free Android software, low-cost smartphones are taking over in China. According to IDC, Android boasts 69.1% market share in China with 73.5% year-over-year growth in unit shipments in the second quarter of 2013. The largest contributors to Android's success? Samsung.

Much of Samsung's success in China is based on an intentional strategy to go after the lower prices that Apple has expressed little interest in. Capitalizing on Apple's not-so-cheap iPhone 5c, which fails to hit a price point that would resonate with China's mid-tier smartphone market, Samsung plans to aggressively pursue this avenue.

In Shin's interview with The Korea Times, he confirmed that the company will accelerate its planned launches of Chinese-friendly devices.

Apple's saving grace
For now, Apple's the only OEM with a 64-bit processor and a fingerprint sensor. Furthermore, it has just fortified its position at the high end of the market with its launch of two new iPhone models. With key first-mover advantages on these new technologies, and on the back of its brand power and retail presence, Apple should manage to fend off competition enough to support its conservative valuation -- for now.

But the longer Apple waits to let Android get entrenched in fast-growing markets, the more it's missing out on potential lifelong customers. To stay competitive, Apple will need to respond with a lower-cost iPhone at some point. It's already happened with iPods (iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle) and iPads (iPad Mini), and it will happen with iPhones (hopefully) -- it's just a matter of time.

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Read/Post Comments (19) | Recommend This Article (8)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 8:19 PM, vernr75 wrote:

    Maybe you guys need to do a little fact checking and some in depth research before accepting everything Apple claims as gospel. For the record, the very FIRST smartphone to have a 64 bit processor was actually introduced last year. It was a Android smartphone from Huawei called the Ascend D Quad and it uses a quad core chip that Huawei built themselves using the same ARMv8 64bit architecture that Apple and everyone else has had access to via licensing since 2011. Furthermore, Samsung has already reached the 3GB Ram barrier with its latest high end smartphones. Take a look at the Note 3 specs. This means that it is now MANDATORY for Samsung to use 64bit processors in the near future so that they can move their devices to 4GB Ram and beyond. It's quite obvious that they're not following Apple at all.

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 8:26 PM, HarvardPeak wrote:

    Android is not 64-bit OS. So it does not matter if the Galaxy hardware is 64-bit or not.

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 8:56 PM, techanalyst1 wrote:

    Bigger screen, longer battery life are my requirements. Neither of those the new Apple phones have.

    Guess I'll wait till next year or check out Samsung.

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 10:24 PM, WillT82 wrote:

    All of these new features will be nice but at least I will be getting a reason on Wednesday to keep my Iphone 5 longer until I upgrade to the newest, coolest Iphone and that is IOS 7 :D

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 10:32 PM, micah1982 wrote:

    Techanalyst1 Start reading actual articles or watch the actual keynote from Apple. The battery life has been extended on the 5s and 5c compared to the 5 it has 25% more talk time and LTE usage time than the 5. If you want to have a phone that has useless features and a os that crashes constantly just hurry up and buy a Samdung product. The last update from Samdung was to stop the phone from crashing during phone calls and the funny thing is, on most devices that did not have that issue now have that issue from the patch that was supposed to help it, LOL. I know all the details about these phones and the problems each has since I own a Repair shop with several employees that report back to me with any issues on my customers devices.

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 10:50 PM, normgarry wrote:

    I've had every single iPhone with the exception of the 3GS. All I wanted to replace my iPhone5 was a BIGGER SCREEN. I'm guessing I'll have to wait yet another year for that. Sure Apple will make money on the cheap 5C and a bunch of people will buy the Golden iPhone so everyone knows they have a new one, but I'm very disappointed. The CPU is cool and the camera was already better than the Samsung cameras.

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 11:13 PM, junglecrus wrote:

    I love how Apple users continually make blind claims about the amazing iPhone, it's what makes others hate the fanboys. It's a good phone, it's one of the top 5, but I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say "I don't like bigger screens", or, "I don't care that your phone can remotely control any television", or "if you want a phone that crashes all the time, get a Samsung", like the iPhone has never crashed, wow, such denial. The latest I heard was how "Apple created the smartphone", there were smartphones several years before the iPhone, and Apple "borrowed" ideas from all of them, it just shows that Apple is genius at marketing. Somebody even said "the camera was already better than Samsung's (13mp) camera, wow. I shop around, and I buy what I want, not what one company says I should buy, and I would buy an iPhone, if it was the best choice for me, but it's not, too pricey, too small, not enough features that I want, but I'm not going to go so far as the say it has "useless apps" that would mean I know absolutely nothing about it. Ask any iPhone user if they've even compared other phones before they bought the iPhone, they haven't, which means they know nothing.

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2013, at 11:21 PM, skippywonder wrote:

    @vernr75 can you cite a source for your claim?

    Everything I am reading about the Huawei K3V2 chip in the Ascend D quad is that it is a 32 bit quad core Cortex A9 ARM chip. I see no support for the claim that it is 64 bit and explicit mention that the 16 core GPU is 32 bit.

    So I think you are mistaken. If you have a source to show that I am wrong, I would be happy to see it.

    Don't get me wrong, it is a screaming fast chip. Just not 64 bit as far as I can tell.

    As for Samsung, well they just spent a whole lot of money coming up with their 8 core 32 bit monstrosity. Let's see how long it takes them to actually move to 64 bits.

    And there again, the advantage Apple has is that the 64 bit OS was developed alongside the chip, allowing for very tight integration. Any 64 bit Android OS will have to function on a number of new 64 bit chips from various manufacturers (the ones who are now scrambling to follow Apple's lead), so there is no guarantee the experience will really be as fast as it could be.

    I think Samsung is really caught on the wrong foot here. Couldn't happen to a better bunch of guys.

  • Report this Comment On September 15, 2013, at 2:32 AM, deasystems wrote:

    @vernr75: You are mistaken: The Ascend D Quad's quad core chip is a HiSilicon K3V2 based on the 32-bit ARM Cortex A9, not the 64-bit ARMv8 core as you claimed.

    The Ascend D Quad's processor is 32-bit.

    Apple's iPhone 5s is indeed the first smartphone to be equipped with a 64-bit CPU.

  • Report this Comment On September 15, 2013, at 3:11 AM, rockphone wrote:

    So which Phone should get instead the HTC, google or the nokia et

  • Report this Comment On September 15, 2013, at 4:57 AM, crazy3872 wrote:

    all u guys r full of it listen apple keeps coming out with the same old bull how many times will u inprove the camera if I want a camera ill buy one ,I want a phone not a camera and the screen how many times have we said we want a bigger screen ,I think apple is just interested in making money and all these fools go run out and stand inline at midnight or for days to buy the same thing allover again, I think android galaxy is just about the best phone ,screen size ,quicknest ,apps ,everything seems to be measured out just right it always comes out with all types of new stuff, when steven died so did the phone .

  • Report this Comment On September 15, 2013, at 7:06 AM, ComputerBlue wrote:

    Please do not drink the Kool-Aid made by Apple, and try to pass it off as champagne as Apple would love of us all to do.

    For chip nerds the idea of 64-bit chip inside a smartphone is overkill. The benefits of a 64-bit chip is that is can take advantage of 4 gigabytes of addressable RAM, but most smartphones are barely hitting 2 or 3 GB of RAM today. Apple boasting about being the first to introduce a 64 bit chip inside a smartphone means as much to the current smartphone user as a June-bug flying around in July in the middle of the Sahara desert

    The 5S has 1GB of RAM. Apple isn’t going to start shipping a phone with more than 4GB of RAM, because RAM takes a significant amount of power to initialize. That’s a non-starter. In mobile, you rearchitect to cut power, not to spend more of it running banks of memory you don’t need. Plus, the operating system has to be tweaked to run on a 64-bit chip. So it’s not a stretch to guess that the A7 will eventually show up in MacBooks where a 64-bit chip makes more sense.

    None of this means the A7 won’t be faster than A6, but it does mean that the 64-bit status of the A7 is a marketing tool, not a genuine performance boost. The major reasons for adopting 64-bit architectures simply aren’t present in mobile devices. It’s not clear that a phone with 4-8GB of RAM ever makes sense given current constraints on battery life. The blend of 64- and 32-bit software means the A7 will offer strong performance in both categories (good), but won’t automatically have a clear benefit from doing so until the entire application stack has switched over. That’s not going to happen for years yet, given that iOS7 supports all iPhones going back to iPhone 4.

  • Report this Comment On September 15, 2013, at 7:26 AM, thirdman99 wrote:

    Funny how this supposed 64-bit advantage doesn't affect iphone 5S at all since it only has 1GB RAM.

    When would > 4GB RAM become a norm in tablet and smartphone world, which is the only reason that necessitates 64-bits CPU? Maybe in a couple of years. I'm sure Samsung and other makers will catch up with 64-bits a long before. After all it's just a repeated technology advance from the desktop world.

  • Report this Comment On September 15, 2013, at 9:01 AM, mamajojo wrote:

    So I'm in the game now for a smart phone, never had one. After reading the previous comments I am even more confused (although you people sound really smart). I am going to be moving to an area that may not have great reception. I need a phone/computer for a while, which one should I buy. Price is important but not the only thing I am considering. I want to be able to watch tv also. Can anyone tell me what kind of phone/phone service to get? I am so not up on any of this stuff.Thank you.

  • Report this Comment On September 15, 2013, at 9:36 AM, Mathman6577 wrote:

    I enjoy reading all the Apple-bashing which compares every product feature to the nth degree. Once again all the anti-Apple comments here completely miss the point of the Apple strategy. Its not about screen size and faster processors. They are not going to release a inferior product like Samsung does. My experience is that Samsung makes junky products that need to be repaired or thrown away. Apple is going to keep making money in the high end of the market. Read the book by Ken Segall on why apple is successful, don't read every blog written.

  • Report this Comment On September 15, 2013, at 10:34 AM, ComputerBlue wrote:

    @Mathman6577;

    Why is it called Apple bashing or anti-Apple comments when people state their opinions about Apple based on statical facts. The iPhone and Apple in general no longer are the dominate player in the smartphone industry and that is a fact point , blank, period. HTC One and Samsung S4 are far superior smartphones than the iPhone and the iPhone 5s is not going to change that. Putting a 64 bit chip in a cellphone is like putting a 6.0 twin- turbo 550 HP liter engine in a Honda Accord. A Honda Accord is and always will be a Honda Accord a Bentley or Rolls-Royce it will never be no matter how much you change it. Same goes for Apple"s iPhone , it has been surpassed by its competitors and unless they make radically and progressive changes real soon they will end up like Blackberry , clinging to old outdated phone that only appeal to a diehard few Apple loyalist.

    In 2005-2007 if I would tell the world that in 7-5 years Blackberry phones will lose 70% of marketshare and will be severely outdated and give way to touchscreen phones from Apple and Samsung, I would be called crazy and dreaming in technicolor.

  • Report this Comment On September 15, 2013, at 10:50 AM, le2o wrote:

    Computerblue

    You're funny. 64 bit chip means anything to you? LOL

  • Report this Comment On September 15, 2013, at 11:02 AM, Burstedbladder wrote:

    Samsung has my vote, and I love my current Samsung fone.

    It seems Apple just keeps remarketing their iFones and sells them to the sheeple that actually think they got something new or better, when it's still just an overpriced iFone.

  • Report this Comment On September 15, 2013, at 2:38 PM, deasystems wrote:

    @ComputerBlue @thirdman99: Apple's move to 64-bit processing for its iOS devices has little to do with RAM and RAM limits.

    It has everything to do with performance *right now*. Note that iOS 7 and Apple's own built-in apps are fully 64-bit native. Also, see the Infinity Blade demo and discussion in the Apple September event video. It's all about capacity, reserve power, and instructions per cycle. It's also about preparing for the ongoing evolution of mobile computing. Apple is very well positioned here…

    There's a good summary in the allthingsd site's recent article entitled "Apple’s iPhone 5s, the A7 Chip, and That 64-Bit Question".

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