For those of you who haven’t been paying attention to the evening news, morning news, world news, financial news or tech news, you will be surprised to discover that Apple announced the iPhone 5 yesterday. For those who have been paying attention to the news, your expectations must have been high as predictions were made that this new iPhone could have a positive impact on the US economy of “1/4 to 1/2%-point to fourth quarter annualized GDP growth.” That’s a lot of impact for a small device.
Yes, the anticipation was at a fevered pitch before yesterday’s announcement. But does the iPhone 5 live up to the hype? Here are the details along with information about other Apple announcements:
The iPhone 5 is thinner and lighter than any previous iPhone and adds improved features such as a better camera, larger screen, and faster Internet connections. In spite of these improvements, the battery life is longer than previous models.
Those who were disappointed that the iPhone 4S had the same design as the iPhone 4 will be pleased to learn that the iPhone 5 has a new design. The phone case is now made from aluminum and glass, giving the iPhone a new look that’s polished and distinctive. The materials and design make the iPhone 5 a quality build, designed to be pleasing to the eye and to the hand. The new phone has a larger screen, a new dock connector and a headphone connector on the bottom, to help make the iPhone 5 recognizable as the latest model.
The iPhone 5 has a larger screen, 4″ compared to the 3.5″ screen of all previous iPhones. The screen has been elongated, not widened, so that an extra row of icons fits on your screen while the phone still rests comfortably in your hand. The longer screen also has a 16:9 ratio display, which is a better shape for watching wide-screen videos.
The screen is also brighter, with richer colors. Apple improved the touch screen technology so the screen is thinner and more responsive to touch.
Thinner and Lighter
Scoffing at the confines of physics, Apple manages to stuff all of its improvements into a device that is 7.6 mm thin and 112 g light, 18% thinner and 20% lighter than the iPhone 4S. This magic trick continues to be impressive each time we see it, though one must wonder how often Apple can repeat the trick before the iPhone becomes imperceptible to the naked eye. We don’t have to worry about that inevitable conclusion yet though. For now, we can marvel at the size of this new device.
The iPhone 4S brought a significant improvement to the iPhone’s camera, so much so that at least one photojournalist used the camera to capture the feats of Olympic athletes in London this summer. But Apple did not rest upon its laurels, instead it continued to strive for greatness. Apple brings an improved camera to the iPhone 5, giving us the ability to take even better pictures and video.
New features of the camera, which Apple calls iSight, include the ability to take panoramic images and capture a photo while shooting a video. Although the camera is still 8 MP, the lens has been improved, now made from sapphire crystal with precision alignment. The camera app allows for 40% faster image capture and better images in low-light conditions.
You can see sample images taken with the iPhone 5, including full resolution images, in the iPhone 5 Gallery.
The front-facing camera has also been improved for higher resolution photos and videos, as well as a backside illumination sensor for better images in low light.
Speed is the name of the game for the new iPhone 5. The device gets a new A6 processor which is 40% faster than the old A5 processor and dual channel Wi-Fi antennas for faster Wi-Fi connections. Notably, the iPhone 5 has 4g/LTE capabilities so Internet connections when you’re not connected to Wi-Fi can be even faster than if you were connected to Wi-Fi. If you have a need for speed, the iPhone 5 will delight you.
Note that to take advantage of the iPhone 5’s 4g/LTE capabilities you must have access to 4g/LTE coverage from your cell phone provider. In the US, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint offer LTE coverage for the iPhone. Verizon has the broadest 4G/LTE coverage, though AT&T has plans to expand its coverage, bringing it to 43 new markets by the end of 2012. Check with your cell phone carrier to find out if LTE is offered in your area.
Apple’s website lists iPhone 5 LTE coverage in other countries.
New Dock Connector
The iPhone 5 features a new, 9-pin dock connector called the Lightning, which offers the advantages of being smaller than the previous 30-pin dock connector and being reversible so that no matter which way you plug it in, the connector will connect. The new connector is digital, though does not allow data to transfer any faster than the previous analog connector.
The current 30-pin dock connector theoretically has a 50/50 chance of being connected properly, though I have discovered in practice that only once have I actually connected it properly the first time, since I started plugging in my first iPod in 2004. My successful connection happened in August of 2005 and, had I known that the event was to have been such a rare occurrence, I would have tweeted about it, had Twitter been invented in 2005.
But I digress.
The new reversible connector is suitable for families who only have new iDevices and no older iDevices.
For those who:
- have older iDevices in the family,
- use more than one charge cord and/or
- have accessories such as speakers, clock radios, docks or other accessories,
the change in dock connectors has the potential to be a nightmare. I use the word “potential” here because Apple has tried to ameliorate the situation by providing its customers with dock adapters that allow you to connect your 9-pin iPhone 5 or other new iDevice to a 30-pin connector. I say “providing” because Apple will charge you $29 or $39 for one of these adapters, which must represent a tidy potential profit source for Apple.
The dock adapter will be the ideal solution for those who:
- don’t mind shelling out $29 or $39
- are likely to have it handy wherever they may find a need for an adapter (say, at a friend’s house when said new iDevice needs charging and the friend only has older iDevices) and
- are unlikely to lose a small piece of plastic that must be kept handy at all times.
In other words, the change to a new dock connector in most cases will be a supreme nuisance.
In spite of adding these advanced features to the iPhone 5, Apple has managed to improve the battery life of the device. Battery life is 8 hours for talking and browsing the Internet using 3G or 4g/LTE, 10 hours for browsing using Wi-Fi or watching video, 40 hours for listening to music and 225 hours of standby time.
Comparisons with Previous Models
For the full specs of the iPhone 5 versus the iPhone 4 and 4S, check the Apple website.
The iPhone 5 will be available for pre-order beginning tomorrow, September 14 in the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore and will be sold in over 100 countries eventually.
The iPhone 5 will be priced:
with a 2 year contract –
- $199 16 GB
- $299 32 GB
- $399 64 GB
without a contract –
- $649 16 GB
- $749 32 GB
- $849 64 GB
Other Apple Announcements
Apple also announced September 19 as the date for iOS 6, the new operating system for the new devices as well as the iPhone 4 and 4S, the iPad 2 and New, and the iPod Touch 4th generation. iOS 6 brings over 200 new capabilities to iDevices, including Maps, FaceTime over cellular, and others. Read more about iOS 6 in Apple’s WWDC 2012: What’s New for You?
Apple announced new iPods, including the iPod Touch and the iPod Nano. The iPod Touch will come in five different colors and will include a matching wrist strap, reducing the chance of loss or breakage for those who might be clumsy or forgetful with their iDevices.
The new iPod Touch has the larger screen of the iPhone 5. The iPod Touch also comes with the iSight camera, though the camera remains at 5 MP instead of the 8 MP camera of the new iPhone.
The iPod Touch will be available for pre-orders beginning September 14 and is priced at $299 for the 32 GB and $399 for the 64 GB models.
The new iPod Nano also has been redesigned with a new look. The square shape has been abandoned, instead the new Nano reclaims its rectangular persona, gaining a 2.5 inch screen. The Nano is 5.4 mm thin, gaining it the title of “Thinnest iPod Ever.”
The iPod Nano costs $149 for 16 GB of storage. Pre-orders begin September 14.
New Ear Pods
Apple also redesigned its earphones, now called Ear Pods, to optimize the sound you hear from iDevices. Apple engineered the Ear Pods to fit a variety of ear shapes and sizes while improving the sound and air flow.
Ear Pods with a microphone are $29 and are available for purchase now.
What do you think about Apple’s announcements? Will you be getting an iPhone 5? Do you like the other iDevices Apple announced? Let us know in the Comments section below!
Correction: A previous version incorrectly stated that the new Lightning dock connectors transferred more data faster than the previous dock connectors.