updated 01:27 pm EDT, Wed September 12, 2012
Major upgrades over iPhone 4S
Apple today announced the iPhone 5. The device is said to be built entirely out of glass and aluminum, and is 18 percent thinner than the iPhone 4S at 7.6mm. One of its signature features though is a larger display, measuring 4 inches with a resolution of 1136x640. To accommodate the change Apple is updating all of its apps; any third-party apps that haven't been updated will display in the center of the screen. The display also uses a full sRGB color gamut, and should have 44 percent more color saturation.
Wireless support has been extended to include HSPA+, DC-HSDPA, and LTE; all of the different formats are merged onto a single chip with a single radio, and a dynamic antenna. AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon will support LTE in the US, and numerous other carriers should be supported around the world. In terms of Wi-Fi the device's 802.11n chip now supports dual-channel 5GHz.
Inside the the phone has been upgraded with an A6 processor, said to have twice the CPU performance of the iPhone 4S, and twice the graphics speed as well. Despite this, chip size has been reduced, and the 5 show have as much or more battery life, with 8 hours of 3G talk or web browsing, 8 hours of LTE browsing, 10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing, 10 hours of video, or up to 40 hours of music. Standby time is rated at 225 hours.
The camera has been advanced to use an 8 megapixel sensor, with backside illumination, a hybrid IR filter, a five-element lens and aperture up to f/2.4. A dynamic low-light mode should enable up to 2 f-stops' worth of extra light sensitivity. The lens cover is newly made of sapphire, and a better image processing chip has been added, which uses spatial noise reduction and boosts capture speeds by 40 percent. As rumored, a new panorama mode is operated by hitting a button and simply panning the phone.
Video records at 1080p, and uses better stabilization, with the additions of face detection and the ability to take photos at the same time. The front camera is now a FaceTime HD unit, supporting resolutions up to 720p; FaceTime can, for the first time, be used over a cellular link.
Audio upgrades include three microphones -- at the front, back, and bottom -- and new speakers, with five magnet transducers instead of three. The earpiece offers noise cancellation for a person's own audio-out, and Apple is using wideband sound to make calls clearer, though this requires carrier support.
A new smaller dock connector format, Lightning, uses an 8-signal design, and is also said to be reversible and more durable. An official adapter is being offered to bridge the iPhone 5 with older 30-pin accessories.
16, 32, and 64GB versions of the phone are being sold, at prices of $199, $299, or $399 on a two-year contract. September 21st launch regions will include the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. On the 28th the phone will begin rolling out further, to countries such as Austria, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, and Switzerland.
Preorders begin on Friday. Apple is promising that by the end of the year the phone will be in 100 countries and on 240 carriers.