Apple executives unveiled the company’s hotly-anticipated new iPhone 5 at a press event in San Francisco on Wednesday, but the majority of the new key features shown off on the device — a larger screen, a lighter body, a thinner frame, faster processor, new headphones, LTE support — had been predicted in advance earlier this year, despite Apple CEO Tim Cook’s earlier promise that the company would “double down on secrecy,” after several high-profile leaks.
The new iPhone comes, like its predecessor, in black and white and in three-differently priced models, reflecting different onboard memory storage capacity: 16GB for $199, 32GB for $299 and for 64GB $399, all prices listed reflective of 2-year-carrier contracts.
It will be available for pre-order beginning September 14 and will begin shipping and be available in stores on September 21.
“iPhone 5 is the most beautiful consumer device that we’ve ever created,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, who unveiled the phone, in a press statement published on Apple’s website. “We’ve packed an amazing amount of innovation and advanced technology into a thin and light, jewel-like device with a stunning 4-inch Retina display, blazing fast A6 chip, ultrafast wireless, even longer battery life; and we think customers are going to love it.”
Specifically, the new iPhone 5 contains the following features that differentiate it from its immediate predecessor, the iPhone 4S, which has sold close to 100 million units since it was introduced in October 2011, according to analyst estimates:
Specifically, a longer screen: 4 inches diagonally as opposed to 3.5 on the iPhone 4S and all preceding generations, with a higher resolution, too, at 1136-by-640 pixels, compared to the iPhone 4S display’s 960-by-640 resolution.
By 20 percent, now 112 grams.
By 18 percent, at 7.6 millimeters.
A new A6 chip, or processor, which Apple boasts delivers “up to twice the CPU and graphics performance.”
Slightly improved camera
Apple executives made much of the iPhone 5’s new “iSight” rear-mounted camera and the company continued to boast of this point in its press release, noting that it was “completely redesigned” and “25 percent smaller than the camera in iPhone 4S,” while offering “a sapphire crystal lens cover that is thinner and more durable than standard glass with the ability to provide crystal clear images,” a built-in panorama feature allowing users to turn the camera around 360 degrees and create a composite image, as well as “improved stabilization, video face detection for up to 10 faces and the ability to take still photos as you record.”
The new camera offers built-in sharing and cloud-based storage through Apple’s iCloud servers, as well.
However, the iPhone 5’s camera is still the same resolution, 8 megapixels, as its predecessor, the iPhone 4. The comparison chart on Apple’s website reveals the two cameras share more similarities than they do differences:
LTE wireless connection support
Long clamored for, the new iPhone 5 will be able to take advantage of the higher-speed 4G LTE networks offered by the three U.S. carriers that it is available on to begin with: Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.
Slightly improved battery life
Apple’s comparison chart states that the iPhone 5 achieves 8 hours of talk time, the same amount as Apple claims is found on the iPhone 4S.
However, Apple also claims that the iPhone 5 gets 8 hours of Web browsing time on a 3G connection versus the 6 hours advertised for the iPhone 4S. The company also says that the “standby” time, when the phone screen is inactive, is now up to 225 hours from 200 on the iPhone 4S.
New “EarPods” headphones
Apple claims that it spent three years designing new headphones made specifically for its new “i” devices. The new EarPods” have been engineered to minimize sound loss and maximize sound output,” Apple advertises on its online store, also stating that they offer “deeper, richer bass tones,” and “greater protection from sweat and water.”
New “Lightning” charging and 8-pin connector cord
In a controversial move, Apple unveiled an all new universal connection cord it calls “Lightning” to link the iPhone 5 to wall chargers and into computers for syncing, or transferring user data, like music and apps, and backing up the iPhone 5.
The new “Lightning” cord (the successor to Apple’s “Thunderbolt” connector) is much smaller, consisting of only 9 “pins” with which to link to a computer or wall charger, and as such completely renders obsolete the previous 30-pin connector that came with every Apple iPhone since the original (a connector Apple noted was also used for the iPod and is almost a decade old).
However, the new connector is reversible, allowing a user to plug it in from either side (as opposed to fumbling with the correct direction, as some had to do with the previous connector).
And a few more things…
Apple also confirmed that the new version of its mobile operating system for the iPhone, iPad and iPodTouch, which is called iOS6 and which gets rid of Google Maps and the default YouTube app, will be available for free download beginning September 19 for all users of Apple devices dating back to the iPhone 3GS.
The new iOS 6 software will upgrade Apple’s voice-activated digital assistant, Siri, allowing users to check in on sports scores, receive turn-by-turn directions using Apple’s new maps system, and even post updates to Facebook simply by speaking into their phones.
The immediate reception from tech pundits and observers to Apple’s announcements, and specifically the iPhone 5, was more of a shrug than a full embrace.
“iPhone 5 looks meh. I want a shiny Nokia Lumia 920. kthnxbai,” tweeted tech journalist Kate Brevan, referencing the Finnish phonemaker’s recently unveiled new Windows 8 smartphone, a sentiment echoed by others.
The stock market was similarly unimpressed, though not disappointed, by Apple’s showing, with shares up just over 1 percent following the announcements.
Still, its important to recall that the iPhone 4S received a similarly underwhelming reception, only to go on to sell 4 million units in its first weekend of availability, becoming Apple’s most successful product of all time.