Appleís Impressive iPhone 5 Confirms All The Rumors
Are we all happy now that we know about the iPhone 5? I watched the whole press event, and I actually got bored hearing the company confirm all the rumors and leaks. Some people will be disappointed. Others will be overjoyed. I was just impressed. At least now Apple has caught up with the other smart-phone vendors that have, for a while, been offering big screens (larger than 4 inches) and Long-Term Evolution (LTE) 4G features.
The screen and the package are the big deal here (see the figure). The phone is as wide as before, but longer to accommodate the 4-in. diagonal screen. Thatís a half inch to almost an inch less than the competition. The phone is long and skinny. It looks more like a TV remote control or cordless phone than the premier smart phone. The new case is glass and aluminum. It is only 7.6 mm thick, which is 18% thinner than an iPhone 4S. I worry about all this ďthinnessĒ preoccupation. Iím afraid it will bend. And, the iPhone 5 is lighter than the 4S by 20%. I like lightness more than thinness.
The display is still a winner. The Retina has the same resolution as the 4S, or 326 pixels per inch. The format is 1136 by 640, clearly RGB HD, and Apple claims 44% better color saturation. Itís great for movies and games.
Its LTE radio was a must, since all the iPhone carriers now have LTE and are expanding. If LTE isnít available, the phone falls back to HSPA+, DC HSPA, or even WCDMA, EDGE, or GSM (EV-DO for Sprint and Verizon subscribers). First-time users of LTE will be impressed with the recognizable speed increase as well as their monthly data plan bills.
The usual Wi-Fi and Bluetooth also are present. Thereís no near-field communications (NFC), which is now common in competing smart phones. Maybe thatís because of Appleís Passbook service, which attempts to duplicate part of what NFC does for e-commerce.
Apple spent a great deal of time describing the new camera, called iSight. Itís an 8-Mpixel device with a format of 3264 by 2448 pixels. The five-element f/2.4 lens has a sapphire crystal cover. The camera has better low-light performance. Its panorama mode lets you pan a scene to create a sweeping 28-Mpixel photo. A front-facing camera is also included so you can use Appleís FaceTime app. I wonder if the standalone digital cameraís days are numbered now.
Then thereís the new A6 processor. Itís a faster, smaller version of the dual-core A5. Samsung makes this Apple-designed chip, which makes video, games, and most other functions faster.
The new battery was a must. Itís a boring upgrade but essential. Thinner than ever, the battery has to last at least as long as the 4Sís battery, even with all of the 5ís new features. Apple has been a leader in battery life, and it looks like the company wants to continue that tradition.
A major change is the elimination of the long-popular 30-pin connector for charging and data transfer. Apple launched a new eight-pin connector that has an adaptive interface that uses only the signals for the selected function. The new connector interface is called Lightning. It may be simpler, cheaper, reversible, and more durable, but it will cause long-time iPhone users and accessory makers to cuss. An extra-cost 8-to-30-pin adapter will be available to make the expected transitions. Eventually the accessory vendors will catch up. Itís good for the electronic business overall.
Apple is also offering some greatly improved ear buds called EarPods. Better fidelity and supposedly a better fit to the ear are the key improvements. The new wide-bandwidth audio feature also includes noise cancelling.
The new operating system is iOS 6. Its new features are too many to enumerate here. I will say that Apple now uses its own maps and turn-by-turn navigation software instead of Googleís. Siri is essentially the same but updated.
The U.S. carriers AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon will carry the iPhone 5. T-Mobile is not in that exclusive club and may never be. T-Mobile still does not offer LTE, although its HSPA+ networks are nearly as competitive speed-wise. The phone will also be available from various carriers in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and the U.K.
All will get the phone on September 21. You can begin your pre-ordering September 14. Prices are as before: $199 for the 16-Gbyte memory version, $299 for 32 Gbytes, and $399 for 64 Gbytes. The 4S now costs $99. The iPhone 4 is now free. All of these prices assume a new two-year contract. The 3GS is no more.
I have been an iPhone user since the first model in 2007. I currently have a 3GS. I never upgraded to a 4 or 4S. I am ready for the upgrade since I want LTE for sure, and I know I will love the larger screen. I am a prime candidate for the iPhone 5. But Iím also looking at the competition. Iím particularly impressed by the Nokia Lumia 920 with the new Microsoft Phone 8 OS.
Itís going to be a tough call. Luckily, I donít have many apps on my iPhone, and I rarely use them. But for heavy apps and music users, switching to a non-Apple phone just isnít an option. There are millions of users who want to retain all that content. Thatís why the iPhone 5 will be such a big success.
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