iPhone 5: LTE, Thinner, Bigger, Slightly Better Everything

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2012-09-12

iPhone 5: LTE, Thinner, Bigger, Slightly Better Everything

Apple officially introduced an LTE-equipped iPhone 5 Sept. 12, as analysts have long expected. The smartphone is nearly all that the rumors have led the world to anticipate-aside from the absence of near-field communication technology-and again proved Apple's mastery at marketing its products.

The most notable change is the increase to the iPhone's display size-it's the first real change to the device's size since it was introduced in 2007. While the same width as the iPhone 4S, it's longer, now 4 inches on the diagonal, with an aspect ratio of 16:9, up from 3.5 inches. The difference is enough to accommodate an additional row of icons on the bottom of the home screen, and to enjoy a larger image when surfing or watching a video, while not changing the experience in the hand.

"It's an absolute jewel. It is the most beautiful product we have ever made, bar none," Phil Schiller, Apple's vice president of marketing, told the audience at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

Made entirely of glass and aluminum, the iPhone 5 weighs 112 grams, making it 20 percent lighter than the iPhone 4S, and measures 7.6mm in width, making it 18 percent thinner.

Apple also updated its iWork and iLife apps, to take advantage of the larger display, though existing iPhone apps will run "exactly as the developer intended," said Schiller.

The new iPhone has 44 percent more color saturation than its predecessor, has touch integrated into the display-in keeping with the rumors-and offers better viewing in sunlight. There's a single chip for voice and data, as well as a single radio chip. In the United States, it will be available from Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint-all Long-Term Evolution (LTE) supporters.

In keeping with the speed theme, there's an Apple A6 processor on board that's said to be twice as fast at the A5 and more energy-efficient. From the battery, expect eight hours of 3G LTE talk time and browsing, or 10 hours of browsing on a WiFi connection.

"We couldn't be prouder of it," said Schiller.

Moving onto the camera, it's an 8-megapixel with a sapphire lens crystal cover, a "smart filter" for better color matching and a "dynamic low-light mode" for better low-light snaps. The video camera is 1080p, as with the 4S, but now has better video stabilization and facial recognition.

To complement Intel's Thunderbolt port, Apple also introduced Lightning, a quicker way to download content wirelessly.

Apple Emphasized That iOS 6 Is Better Than Many Expected

Perhaps the only thing that has been known about the iPhone 5 is that it will run iOS 6. During its presentation, Apple went to some pains to show that this, too, is better than you expected. It includes Apple's own Maps app (adios, Google Maps); Safari has been updated to share tabs from a desktop or tablet (just as Motorola's new Chrome-running Razrs do); there are updates to email, such as a VIP feature; new ways to share photos; and improvements to Siri.

The iPhone 5 will come in options of black or white. Pricing is $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for 64GB, with a two-year contract.

Apple also lowered the price of the iPhone 4S to $99 and the iPhone 4 to zilch with a contract. It can be preordered beginning Sept. 14, and-again the rumor mill nailed it-will go on sale Sept. 21 in United States and a list of other countries. By the end of the year, it will be available from 240 carriers in 100 countries.

The company that changed the way people carry around music-per CEO Tim Cook, there are now 435 million iTunes accounts with one-click shopping enabled-also announced changes to iTunes. Apple has changed its design so that shopping for videos, music, books and anything else also has the same look and feel. It also has iCloud built in, a mini-player, and links to more and richer related content, like concert dates for artists.

Unlike the new iPhone, the new iTunes will be available in late October.

Additionally, Apple updated the iPod Nano-it's now 5.4mm thin, has a 2.5-inch multi-touch display and can play music, videos and games-and the iPod Touch, which is 6.1mm thin, runs Apple's A5 processor and has a 4-inch Retina display. It now also has a 5MP iSight camera, which like the iPhone 5 can take panoramic photos, and will support Siri. 

Finally, Apple even improved on its earbuds, introducing new EarPods, earphones designed to better fit the geometry of people's ears.

The EarPods will start shipping Sept. 12, but come included with the iPhone 5 and the new iPod Touch and Nano.

The 2GB Shuffle-which now comes in new colors-remains at $49. The 16GB iPod Nano is $149, and the new iPod Touch, as before, will sell for $199 for 16GB and $249 for 32GB.

"Only Apple could integrate these services and bring them all together," said CEO Cook. "Apple has never been stronger."

Technology Business Research analyst Ezra Gottheil summed up-by Twitter's dictates-the events of the afternoon, writing, "Once you have a balanced product, the best strategy is improvements across the board. It may not be dramatic, but it makes good products."

Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter. 

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