Thursday, September 13, 2012

The iPhone 5 sees the light of day: no surprises in Apple introduction

Apple announced its new iPhone, the iPhone 5 (not, thankfully, not the "new iPhone") on Wednesday, and the world stopped as the Internet was flooded with live blog viewing.

[A slideshow of images from the event can be seen here.]

To be clear, the earlier image and feature links were correct. First off, the device is 18 percent thinner, which is amazing. We were expecting the in-cell touch panels to mean the device could be slightly thinner, but nearly 1/5 slimmer? The device has a 4-inch screen, is elongated, with a 16:9 aspect ratio. As expected, apps that have not optimized for the new aspect ratio will display as letter-boxed in portrait mode and pillar-boxed in landscape mode.

Also as expected, there is a new system-on-a-chip (SOC) or processor unit. It is an Apple A6, sourced from Samsung, which Apple claims is 2 times faster for both graphics and processing. It is also 22 percent smaller that the A5.

Faster wireless is coming, but not just 4G LTE. Apple is also supporting both the 2.4GHz and 5Ghz wireless-N bands with the iPhone 5. In terms of LTE, Apple will support AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon in the U.S.; Bell, Telus, Fido, Vigin, and Kudo in Canada and a number of other LTE networks globally, all with - Cook said - one chip.

In Europe, Deutsche Telekom and EE (Everything Everywhere) will be supported. In Australia, Telstra, Optus, and Virgin Mobile will see support. And in Asia, Softbank, Smartone, Singtel, and SK Telecom will be gifted with the iPhone 5's LTE support.

Meanwhile, there is a huge list of faux 4G HDPA+ supported carriers.

And guess what, third-party accessory manufacturers: Apple has changed the dock connector. As expected it's about the size of a microUSB connector, but of course, Apple couldn't use a standard as that would mean it wouldn't sell as much of its own hardware (no need to insert sarcasm, we'd say).

Also as expected, the company will supply an adapter. It's hard to see it working well in a stereo dock or something similar.

In terms of battery life, Apple said the iPhone 5 will support 8 hours of 3G talktime and 3G browsing. It will support 8 hours of LTE browsing, 10 hrs of wi-fi browsing, 10 hours of video, 40 hours of music and 225 hours of standby time.

The new FaceTime camera has 720p support, a backside illuminated sensor, and FaceTime works over 3G with iOS 6 - although some carriers, such as AT&T, will monetize the feature by forcing customers to opt-in to an extra plan.

Home Theater Week at ...Your Source for High-definition Entertainment
The rear iSight camera has an 8 megapixel sensor, a 3,264 x 2,448 resolution with backside illumination, a hybrid IR filter, a five-element lens, an f2.4 aperture. and is 25 percent smaller.

Image stabilization has improved, there is 1080p video, as well as face detection for up to 10 people. In addition, now you can take photos at the same time that you are shooting video.

Demos were rampant, and so was iOS 6 details, which actually had been gone over at WWDC earlier in the year. Apple showed off new features from Siri, which is of course highly touted by Apple, and highly criticized by analysts, reviewers and end users.

The device is now glass and aluminum. Still in white and black, the aluminum finish will be different on the white vs. black models: silver for white, slate for black.

The all-important date and price information: pre-orders are not beginning immediately, as had been expected, but instead on Sept. 14 (Friday). Retail release will be on Sept. 21.

The first wave will be the U.S., U.K., Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Germany and France.

Pricing is the same as now. Subsidized pricing is $199 (16GB), $299 (32GB), $399 (64GB). The iPhone 4S drops to $99, while the iPhone 4 drops to free, replacing the now extinct iPhone 3GS.

Finally, when will we see iOS 6? The iPhone 4S, 4, 3GS, "new iPad," iPad 2, and 4th generation iPod touch will get iOS 6 OTA (or cabled, if that is your preference) on Sept. 19.

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