On September 12, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook took the stage and officially unveiled the company’s latest smartphone, the iPhone 5. Unlike in past years, there weren’t many surprises. There were so many leaks leading up to the launch that we already had a virtually perfect picture of what to expect from the new device.
That’s OK though. It’s still going to launch as one of the most powerful smartphones on the market, even though Apple will finally feel what it’s like to actually have competition; the company will feel the heat from other powerhouse smartphone makers’ high-end models. So what does it offer?
For one, it’s the first iPhone to run on the super-fast 4G LTE data networks offered by AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. It’s also equipped with a larger 4-inch Retina display that offers a 1136 x 640-pixel resolution. As a reminder, the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S had 3.5-inch screens with a 960 x 640-pixel resolution.
It also has a faster core. Apple outfitted the iPhone 5 with an A6 processor that’s reported to be twice as fast. It should also offer twice the graphics performance as the A5 chip in the iPhone 4S. Apple beefed up the 8-megapixel camera with the capability to take panorama pictures and also improved the FaceTime camera; it’s now capable of snapping 1.2-megapixel photos and recording 720p HD video. The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, by contrast, only offered a low-resolution VGA front-facing camera.
Despite all of the hardware improvements (not to mention the fact that the iPhone 5 is the thinnest iPhone yet), Apple says that the iPhone 5 will offer the best battery life of any iPhone ever. It should provide 8 hours of talk time on 3G networks (on a par with the iPhone 4S), as well as 8 hours of surfing on LTE and up to 225 hours of standby. Most 4G LTE smartphones have a hard time making it through a full day without requiring a charge, and the jury is still out on whether or not the iPhone 5 can make that happen.
Other smaller but important features include a new Lightning dock connector and Apple’s brand new EarPod headphones. The Lightning dock connector is much smaller than the 30-pin dock, but it will mean that consumers have to upgrade their accessories so that they work with the iPhone 5. Unfortunately, this requires a $29 adapter right now.
The headphones were redesigned for better audio quality and better fit. I haven’t had a chance to try a pair myself just yet, but early reports suggest they are indeed much more comfortable than the plastic buds that have been shipping for the past several years.
The 16GB model will cost $199, the 32GB model will set you back $299 and the 64GB option costs $399. They’re shipping now — just head to your local phone store or the Apple site to place your order.
If you want to grab one of Apple’s older models, you still can. The iPhone 4 is now free with a new contract and the iPhone 4S will cost just $99.