The iPhone 5 in All Its Glory

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The iPhone 5 in All Its Glory

Apple's iPhone 5—no "S" required this time—got its first hands-on session from media type and analysts Sept. 12 at a launch event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. It is lighter, has a slightly longer screen, and is thinner and more functional than all previous iPhones.

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The new iPhone 5, which does not have a radical new design compared with previous versions, will come in two colors: white and black. Perhaps the company is saving multiple colors for a future launch. Pricing is $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for 64GB, with a two-year contract.

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Brushed Aluminum and Carefully Engineered

Apple took great pains to explain the engineering process at its factory in the Far East, talking about how carefully the surface of the iPhone 5 is honed, brushed and polished before it goes prime time in the stores. It is, in fact, the lightest-weight Apple phone ever. 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.

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Triple Mikes

The new iPhone 5 features something none of the previous models had: three microphones. Two are at the top front and back of the unit, and No. 3 is at the bottom.

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Brighter Color on the Screen

Apple has put a lot of time and effort into the screen resolution. 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.

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iOS 6 New Features Include Better Maps, Graphics

iPhone 5's updated OS includes Apple's own Maps app that will replace 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.

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Screen Size Does Matter

The most notable change is the increase to the iPhone's display size--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.

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Camera Improved, Here Are Some Specs

The camera is an 8-megapixel unit 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.

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New Camera Feature: Panorama

Next time you find yourself in a very horizontal or vertical photo opportunity—and you have an iPhone 5—you won't have to worry about missing it. Panorama is a new feature that allows the user to pan across and grab the whole shot, such as this example.

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LTE Connectivity

Apple's new A6 processor on board is said to be twice as fast at the A5 and more energy-efficient. From the battery, expect eight hours of 3G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) talk time and browsing, or 10 hours of browsing on a WiFi connection. LTE, a high-speed data-movement standard that's rapidly gaining traction, had been rumored for a couple of years on the Apple phones.

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Dont Forget Video

As shown by the stats in this slide, Apple now has a full 1080p high-definition video on the iPhone 5. Face detection is now standard, and you can take still photos while shooting video.

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New Lightning Power Plugs

These will become Apple's new universal power-supply connector going forward. They are reversible, said to be more power-efficient and easier to use. They also will spawn a new business within Apple's many product lines.

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Good-Bye Earphones, Hello EarPods

Apple executive Phil Schiller said it took the company three full years to design, test and market these new EarPods, which will come with every new iPhone and iPod. Not only does Apple say they improve sound quality, but as a universal fit for millions of ears, they are much more comfortable to wear.

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iPhone Pricing Not Changing a Whole Lot

Depending on the carrier from which you buy an iPhone, the pricing varies greatly, as shown in this chart.

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iPods Also Get a Refresher

Apple spent nearly as much time introducing a refreshed iPod lineup. The new iPod Touches can do almost as many things as the iPhone 5—you just cannot use it to call anybody. You can view HD movies, shoot video, use Bluetooth to stream music to wireless speakers, and many more things.

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Foo Fighters in Surprise Gig

Dave Grohl and his band, Foo Fighters, were introduced by Apple CEO Tim Cook to close out the launch event. They performed four numbers, including "Walk."

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