It's finally here. Apple's next generation iPhone 5 is larger than its predecessor, the iPhone 4S, and yet it's still significantly lighter and thinner. The iPhone 5 will support LTE technology, which will allow it to connect to the higher-tier networks provided by the likes of AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. Also new to the iPhone 5 is Apple's latest mobile processor, an entirely redesigned connector and some fancy new cameras.
Pre-orders for the iPhone 5 start September 14 at $199 and 16GB, with units shipping out to the U.S., Japan, Europe and elsewhere on Sept. 21 and to additional countries a week after that. It will be available in white and black, both with an aluminum finish.
A Big New Screen (For An iPhone)
The biggest change here for current iPhone owners is the larger screen on the iPhone 5. At 4-inches, Apple is crawling toward the 4.3-inch screen size that became popular with Android phonemakers long ago, and allows for the iPhone to display a full additional row of apps. The screen uses Apple's ultra-crisp Retina tech, with a resolution of 1136x640, 326 PPI and a 16:9 aspect ratio. In other words, it's widescreen, and it'll be sharp.
"This is the most accurate display in the industry," Apple marketing head Phil Schiller said at the unveiling. "The touch sensors are integrated right into the display itself. We removed a layer and made it sharper. This is the world's most advanced display, and I couldn't be prouder of it."
Remarkably, even with the extra screen real estate, the iPhone 5 has managed to slim down to a svelte 7.6 millimeters, making it 18 percent thinner than the iPhone 4S. It's also 20 percent lighter at 112 grams. Apple says the phone's body is all glass and aluminum.
Better, Faster Hardware
The iPhone 5 uses Apple's latest A6 processor, which the company says is twice as fast as the iPhone 4S's A5 processor. This will make everything feel generally more snappy, but also means the iPhone 5 will be capable of supporting ever-more complex mobile apps, including fully 3D games with some added bells and whistles you probably won't be able to find on previous iPhone models.
Also beefed up is the iPhone 5's main camera, which is now an 8-megapixel sensor capable of capturing photos up to a resolution of 3264x2445 (which would look good on pretty much any computer monitor, even), with a 40% faster photo capture. The new camera will also enjoy a built-in panorama mode, which allows you to stitch together a sweeping vista made from a bunch of smaller pics — something apps are already doing on all platforms.
The iPhone 5's forward-facing FaceTime camera is also getting some love, with the ability to video chat over cellular (usually, you're limited to Wi-Fi), though we'll just have to see if this feature survives after cellular carriers get a say. It supports full 1080p HD video recording (FaceTime will max out at 720p), face detection and improved image stabilization, and the ability to take still images while capturing video.
To that end, the iPhone 5 is also getting a connectivity bump, built to support HSPA+, DC-HSDPA and LTE networks, as well as the usual Wi-Fi. All that power is being supported by beefier battery tech, which Apple says will allow for up to eight hours of talk time on 3G or LTE, 10 hours of browsing on Wi-Fi, 10 hours of video playback, 40 hours of listening to music and up to 225 hours of standby.
Lightning, Or The Reason You Thought You Needed A New Dock
The news that the iPhone 5 would sport a smaller connector was met with understandable dread, as that'd mean an entirely new set of gear to support it, from the basic dock to a boatload of other accessories. Well, rest easy: Apple's got an adapter that will let you use your current goodies with the iPhone 5.
The new 8-signal digital connector, called Lightning, is noteworthy in that it's entirely reversible. You know how you have to plug in a USB cord (among others) a certain way? Well, As long as you line up Lightning's slat, you won't have to fumble with it and keep turning it around until it fits. There's more to Lightning than that, of course — the all-digital design is intriguing indeed — but we won't know much more until we get to play with it.
Price & Availability
The iPhone 5 will come in three flavors: a 16GB model for $199, 32GB for $299 and 64GB for $399. It will be available in white and black, both sporting an aluminum finish.
Pre-orders start Sept. 14, and the first iPhone 5s will ship out a week later, starting Sept. 21.