iPhone 5C and 5S launch to take Apple in to crucial new territory

Apple is putting the finishing to touches to one of its most ambitious iPhone launches, and one experts say could be critical to the firms future.

In a small ‘town hall’ theatre on Apple’s Cupertino campus at 6pm UK time, CEO Tim Cook is expected to unveil not one, but two new iPhones - a high end version called the iPhone 5S, and a lower cost iPhone 5C with a plastic body and available in several colours.

The invite to the event, which is also being webcast to journalists in Berlin and China, promises to ‘brighten everyone’s day’ and features colourful circles believes to show the new iPhone colours.

Both gadgets will launch with a new version of Apple’s iOS software, iOS 7, designed by Brit Sir Jonathan Ive. Featuring a new ‘flat’ look, the software is expected to be made available to existing iPhone users within hours of the announcement.

The new handsets, however, are expected to go on sale later this month, with pundits pointing to September 27th as the most likely release date.

The top-end handset, expected to be called the iPhone 5S, looks like last year's iPhone 5 and will come in black, white and ‘champagne’ (picture above from 9to5Mac) according to multiple leaks.

It is expected to include a fingerprint sensor used to unlock the device, and a boost in processor speed from the current iPhone 5, along with a new camera.

Leaked pictures, if real, show the only physical difference is a silver ring around the home button, showing users where the fingerprint sensor is. This will initially be used to unlock the device, it is believed, but could also be used to authenticate payments.

Cook, or more likely Apple's marketing guru Phil Schiller, who generally takes over for the 'reveal', will also show off a lower cost iPhone 5C, with a plastic back in multiple colours - the invite shows red, blue, lime green, yellow and white.

The event is an unusual one, and will be the first time Apple has introduced more than one phone at a time.

It’s also the first time an event has been shown in China as well, fuelling speculation the iPhone will launch with China Mobile, which would see the handset go on sale in China before Christmas. This, according to experts, could a be good move for the firm.

"It's a very good direction that Apple is launching its latest model so soon in China when its brand attraction is on the decline," Nicole Peng, an analyst at Canalys, told Reuters. "It is a sign that they value the Chinese consumers."

All will be revealed later today.

MORE: Apple iPhone launch event live from 6pm UK time

by Mark Prigg in San Francisco

Mark Prigg is a science and technology journalist and the Evening Standard technology correspondent. He is the only UK journalist at the Apple launch event in Cupertino and will be reporting from the event for whathifi.com.

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