One year after releasing the iPhone 4S, Apple has our rapt attention once more as it rolls out its newest iteration of the world's most popular smartphone.
The long-awaited iPhone 5 was announced at an event on Sept. 12 by Apple SVP Phil Schiller. Canadians will be able to pre-order the device starting this Friday (Sept. 14) and the iPhone 5 will start shipping on Sept. 21 (so get out your lawn chairs and tents, people).
Rising from the centre of the stage like some sort of mythical object at the unveiling, the device was made entirely of glass and aluminum, looking like many of the leaked pictures that the public saw ahead of the big reveal.
"It is an absolute jewel. It is the most beautiful product we have ever made, bar none," Schiller said, as quoted in Engadget's liveblog.
The new iPhone 5 is the world's thinnest smartphone, according to Schiller. It weighs 112 grams, which is 20 per cent lighter than the iPhone 4S.
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As expected, the iPhone 5 will operate on LTE networks and will be supported by many of Canada's major cellular networks, including Rogers, Telus, Bell, Fido, Virgin and Koodo.
Here's a look at how the iPhone 5 breaks down:
Appearance and Display
In keeping with previous iPhones, the 5 is available in two flavours: black or white. The black has a black anodized backing, while the white has a raw aluminum back. The new iPhone is longer than the 4S, but not wider, which Apple's Senior Vice President of Industrial Design, Jony Ive, says makes for a better user experience.
"By making the screen taller, but not wider, you can still comfortably use it with one hand," Ive said in a video shown at the event.
The screen, which is a 326ppi Retina display, measures four-inches and has a resolution of 1136 x 540 pixels, showed an additional row of apps on the home display because the iPhone 5 is higher than its predecessors. The iPhone's screen has also been improved with 44 per cent better colour saturation.
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Apple has optimized all of its first-party apps to show more when being used on the iPhone 5, including Calendar, iWork (Keynote, Pages and Numbers), iMovie and Garageband. Apps that aren't optimized will run letterboxed on the device. Third-party developers were also pleased with how fast they could get their apps together for the iPhone 5, according to Schiller.
Inside the iPhone 5, Apple has updated the device with a new A6 chip, which Apple says has processing power and graphics capabilities twice as powerful as the previous A5 chip.
As was rumoured, the iPhone 5 will no longer be using the connector that Apple has had on the majority of its devices for nearly a decade. Instead of the 30-pin connector, the iPhone 5 will now be using the "Lightning" connector (to complement Thunderbolt connection on its computers), which is 80 per cent smaller. The connector is double-sided, as well as thinner and more durable than the previous connection.
Schiller says that adapters will be available (for purchase, by the sound of it) so older devices will still work with the new Lightning connection. Manufacturers like Bose, JBL, B&W and B&O have already started manufacturing products that will be compatible with Lightning.
A common complaint for many iPhone users is the battery life, which Apple has addressed as well: according to the company, Apple's iPhone 5 will get 8 hours when used for 3G talk, browsing, or LTE browsing; 10 hours for WiFi browsing or video playback, 40 hours of music and 225 hours of standby time.
The iPhone 5 comes with a built-in rear facing 8MB iSight camera, as well as a front-facing FaceTime camera. The rear camera is 25 per cent smaller and 40 per cent faster than the previous camera, and can capture video in up to 1080p. One of the most exciting additions for many users will be the new Panorama mode, which lets users shoot landscape scenes up to 28 megapixels by stitching photos together. Coupled with the new A6 processor, the iPhone 5 is also meant to have better noise reduction and improved low-light performance.
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The FaceTime camera has been improved from the previous iPhone, too. Instead of the previous VGA front-facing camera, it can now capture up to 720p HD video and higher-quality photos.
Along with the new iPhone 5, Apple fans who own an iPhone 3G, 4 or 4S or an iPad 2 or New iPad will be getting access to the updated operating system, iOS 6.
As was made public previously, Apple dropped Google Maps integration for the new iOS in favour of developing their own Maps software. In the demonstration, Apple's Scott Forstall demonstrated how users can use Flyover mode to get a satellite view of an area, as well as 3D views of certain buildings.
iOS 6 will also be delivering updates for some of Apple's key organization software, including Mail, which will let you mark certain senders as VIPs to separate their emails, and Safari, which now looks much more like the version the full desktop version. iPhoto will also get Photo Stream, which lets you share photos publicly, and lets people add those photos into their own collection in iPhoto.
Siri has also had some work done, now offering her services as a source for sports scores and schedules, as well as movie recommendations based on Rotten Tomatoes ratings.
iOS 6 will launch next week on Sept. 19.
The iPhone 5 will cost the same as the iPhone 4S, at $199 for 16GB and $399 (U.S.) for 64GB. With the release of the new iPhone, the price of previous models will also be dropping: the iPhone 4S is now $99, and the iPhone 4 will be free with a cellular contract.