I’ll admit – it was strange watching someone other than Steve Jobs on stage unveiling Apple’s latest iPhone. But once I got past that, I realized that the first iPhone of the post-Jobs era – the iPhone 5 (technically the 6th generation iPhone, since the 4S was technically the 5th) – can be described, almost entirely, in two words: faster and smaller.
Naturally, it all starts with iOS 6, the latest version of Apple’s operating system. Apple reported that last quarter, it sold its 400 millionth (as in, 400,000,000) device supported by iOS.
But it’s more than that. The CPU on the iPhone 5 is twice as fast – so is the graphics card – despite the fact that they’re a combined 22 percent smaller than in previous versions. The A6 chip, which can work on seven bands, including (for the first time) 4G LTE, is twice as fast as before; users can expect the iPhone 5’s battery to support up to 8 hours of 4G LTE browsing. Look for Apple’s chief rival Samsung, who has really dominated the LTE marketplace while Apple lagged behind, to pay close attention to the engineering on this A6 chip; lawsuits could follow.
The camera is faster too – Apple’s Phil Schiller boasts of 40 percent faster photo capturing. Also look for new features, including a panorama mode, 1080p video, and the ability to take still photos straight from video.
You’ll be able to launch the apps more quickly, as well. Siri now has the ability to launch apps; you’ll be able to issues commands more clearly thanks to three microphones on the iPhone’s back, front, and bottom panels. And zoom through airport lines with new apps like Passport, which automatically brings up your boarding pass as you approach the gate.
Thanks to the iPhone 5’s glass and aluminum construction, this is the thinnest and lightest iPhone Apple’s ever created – in fact, it’s the thinnest and lightest smartphone on the market, period. It measures just 7.6 millimeters thick and 112 grams. That’s 20 percent lighter than the 4S, but if you really want a clear picture of just how small that is, consider this: a stack of 22 nickels weighs 110 grams, roughly the weight of a single stick of butter. The decreased thickness is due to touch sensors, which are built directly into the display.
And while the phone itself and many of its major components – like the CPU, camera, and microphones – are an average of 22 percent smaller, one of the biggest changes is to the iPhone 5’s smaller connector. Called “Lightening,” the new connector is completely digital as well as reversible. No more wondering if you’ve plugged the right end of the cord into your phone – it doesn’t matter, it’ll work both ways. The Lightening is also 80 percent smaller than previous iPhone adapters, but don’t worry if you’ve got older accessories – Apple plans to offer an adapter for all current accessories.
But Something IS Bigger…
While the theme of this iPhone 5 launched seemed to be faster and smaller technology, I’d totally be doing iPhone lovers a disservice if I didn’t mention the one thing that is bigger on this phone: the display. The iPhone 5 has a 4-inch retina display. With a resolution of 1136 by 640 pixels, it’s the same width as the 4S, but taller, giving the iPhone 5 a 16:9 resolution.
When Are You Going To Get One?
I’ve talked before about my plan to sell my old iPhone so I can use the profits to buy the iPhone 5. I had a gut feeling that I should have sold my iPhone 4 (I never bothered buying the 4S; didn’t have enough new bells and whistles for the money) before today’s unveiling, and I was right:
While the price tiers for the iPhone 5 remains unchanged from prior launches – ranging from $199 to $399 – my current iPhone 4 model will now be free with new contracts; the iPhone 4S will drop to just $99. Hopefully people want some unlocked iPhones!
You can pre-order your iPhone 5 this Friday, September 14th; the first shipment goes out the next Friday, September 21st. Next week you’ll also be able to get your hands on iOS 6; a free upgrade will be available for all Apple products starting on the 19th.
Readers, will you be buying a new iPhone 5? What will you do with your old phone?