[This article has been updated. Watch for entries in red for additional goodness!]
Image courtesy of BGR
Everybody’s favorite fruit-shaped company held their annual iDevice launch event today in San Francisco, California. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect from Apple’s newest iPhone.
Screen and form factor
The newest flagship device from Apple will be 18% thinner and 20% lighter than the iPhone 4S. Its screen has been extended to be 4 inches in height but will maintain the same width, resulting in basically a taller iPhone. Not only will the device support an additional row of icons on the homescreen and sport more real estate for performing all usual functions of the device, but it will also now offer an experience much closer to full 19:6 widescreen aspect ratio for video playback.
Rather than continuing to layer two separate components on top of each other, the touch panel will now be embedded into the display. This allowed Apple to reduce the thickness of the smartphone, and will also reportedly result less glare in sunlight. The company also said the new screen would additionally offer 44% more color saturation for more vivid colors; a welcome upgrade to the Retina display given the more vibrant AMOLED and Super AMOLED displays available on more recently released smartphones from Apple’s competitors.
The iPhone 5 will remain available in both black and white models. But they will now feature a “two-toned” unibody metallic finish on the back.
Traditionally, Apple rarely gives specifics regarding the chipsets that actually run their products. When they announced the iPhone 4S last fall, they spoke of the new A5 processor responsible for making the device operate and compared its performance to the processor found in the iPhone 4 (twice as fast and up to 7 times more powerful with graphics). They made no mention of memory, which remained a mystery until third parties later tore the 4S down and found 512MB of RAM inside. With the iPhone 5, Apple adopted a similar approach. The new A6 processor should perform any tasks up to twice as fast as the A5, although graphics will only receive an additional boost of up to 2 times the A5’s quality this time around. Rumors swirling prior to the announcement of the iPhone 5 purported it to have 1GB of RAM inside; speculations which will again remain an unknown until the public is able to get their hands on the device and look under the hood…
According to Apple, the iPhone 5 will have a modified antenna design similar to the one previously used in the iPhone 4S. It will still utilize the traditional 3G network technology used by all US-based carriers, as well as the 4G HSPA+ (21Mbps) network speeds available through AT&T and authorized resellers such as HTC. But the newest iPhone will also take advantage of the up & coming 4G LTE standard; network technology which offers download speeds much faster than those offered in the past.
[Update: Despite other current-gen smartphones’ ability to process both voice and Internet traffic over LTE at once, the iPhone 5 will – by design – only allow the processing of voice calls over LTE.
This means that both the Verizon Wireless and Sprint 3G CDMA/LTE versions of the iPhone 5 will not support simultaneous voice calls and data transmissions over cellular services; a WiFi connection will be required to access the Internet while on a call. Meanwhile, the AT&T version of the iPhone 5 will support simultaneous voice and data traffic by processing the calls using LTE and then falling back on 4G HSPA+ to process the data.
Sources: BGR – http://bit.ly/PfR9UP and iMore – http://bit.ly/TPWuXk%5D
The WiFi antenna in the iPhone 5 has also received an upgrade according to Apple. The new, enhanced 802.11 a/b/g/n dual-channel WiFi antenna should now support the latest WiFi technology and theoretically support download speeds up to 150Mbps.
captured using an iPhone 4S
Apple will look to improve upon the iPhone 5 by adding in additional features such as: dynamic low light mode (which will evaluate nearby pixels to give up to 2 f-stops greater low-light performance), a “sapphire crystal” lens cover (both durable and clear), an even better image processor in the aforementioned A6 chip (to reduce noise and improve color-matching), and 40% faster image captures. A new panoramic capture mode will also capture 28 megapixel images and will also smooth out image blur from camera shakes or object movement.
An upgrade to the lower quality, VGA front-facing camera was – at this point – a necessity given the emphasis Apple has put upon their FaceTime video calling functionality (not to mention the ease of use for self-portraits, and use by women who need to spot check their appearance at times when a mirror isn’t handy). The iPhone 5 will sport a new 1.2 megapixel front sensor featuring backside illumination, face detection, and the capability to record video in 720p HD.
Apple has built three separate microphones into the front, bottom, and back of the iPhone 5. They will work together to provide better voice recognition and noise cancellation. Apple also briefly touched upon the microphone system’s ability to support “wideband audio” for more natural voice sound & quality; specific carrier partnership would be required for this additional benefit however (carriers refer to this feature as “HD Voice”.
[Update: According to a statement given by Sprint, they will not support HD Voice for use with the iPhone 5. There has not been any official word from AT&T or Verizon regarding whether they will expand HD Voice beyond their experimental Voice-over-LTE attempts in order to support the iPhone 5. Source: iMore – http://bit.ly/OiHaf9]
One area in which the iPhone 4S struggled in comparison with its predecessor was in relation to battery life… While both the iPhone 4 and the 4S offered only about 6 hours of talktime or browsing, the iPhone 4 had previously allowed for up to 300 hours of standby time. But with the introduction of the 4S, iPhone owners saw the available standby time plummet to 200 hours (at best). This forced more heavier users to begin carrying a charger with them just to provide their 4S some additional juice to make it through each day.
Even with the addition of the battery-sapping LTE tech within the iPhone 5, Apple seems to have improved this situation slightly. The newest iPhone should provide 8 hours of 3G/4G HSPA+/LTE talktime or browsing, 10 hours of use via WiFi, or 225 hours of standby time. While this isn’t a massive improvement – and doesn’t come close to returning the 300 hours of standby time found on the iPhone 4 – hopefully it will allow users more flexibility and peace of mind than is currently found with the 4S.
The 30-pin dock connector has been used by Apple for charging all of their mobile device products for more than a decade. Additionally, Apple has made lots of money licensing out the use of that proprietary connection method to the manufacturers of all the accessories for those iPhones, iPods, and iPads over that time. But its time in the sun has apparently run out…
Apple announced that the aging peripheral will be replaced by a new, 80% smaller, all digital, 8-signal – and also proprietary – mini-dock connector which they have dubbed “Lightning”; a connection method which will also be used for Apple’s entire refresh of their iPod device lineup (and will likely become the new standard for the iPad as well). Previous cables or accessories may still be used with the aid of an adapter, which Apple will sell for between $29-$39. Otherwise, all new accessories would need to be purchased for use with Apple’s newest products.
[Update: Information available on Apple’s website has confirmed that new “Lightning” mini-dock connector does not support video output on its slimmer 9-pin configuration. Additionally, the new adapter that will be immediately available for purchase from Apple will not remedy this lack of output support.
Any Apple products using the new connection method will only offer video output by streaming to an AppleTV unit from Apple by using AirPlay until Apple rolls out a different adapter to provide video output capabilities; a notion to which Apple has committed themselves but only offered an ambiguous “in the coming months” with regards to a time frame. Source: iMore – http://bit.ly/RUcANS and http://bit.ly/RNVlz2]
After spending over 3 years working on their development, Apple is releasing a new version of their iconic white “earbud” headphones. The manufacturer went to great lengths to scan hundreds of different ear sizes and shapes in order to design the most optimal earphones. The fruits of their efforts (pardon the pun) are the EarPod. These new shapely sonic slip-ins promise to give you the most comfortable fit possible while also improving audio quality.
[Update: A more complete description of the EarBuds – including their additional benefits to sound quality – has been posted online. Source: iDownloadBlog – http://bit.ly/QJuCBp]
The Important Info
Pricing structure (2-yr contract pricing)
With the introduction of the iPhone 5, Apple will finally phase out the iPhone 3GS. The iPhone 4 will now become the reduced-cost offering on a 2-year service contract with your carrier of choice, and the iPhone 4S will slide into the $99 price point (but will retain its 16GB of storage!). The 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB iPhone 5 models will debut at $199/$299/$399 respectively.
[Update: A Verizon Wireless representative has confirmed that Big Red will allow customers still using grandfathered unlimited data plans to keep them when changing to the iPhone 5. However, the mobile carrier will require those subscribers to pay full retail price for the phone (16GB – $649, 32GB – $749, 64GB – $849).
Meanwhile AT&T – who has also transitioned away from unlimited data – will allow customers to retain their unlimited data but will allow them to pay the 2-year subsidized pricing.
Source: 9to5Mac – http://bit.ly/QTJABy]
new iPhone pricing structure
Apple and supporting cellular providers will begin taking pre-orders for the iPhone 5 on Friday, September 14th, 2012. The actual launch date for the device is set for the following Friday, September 21st, 2012.