Apple has announced the iPhone 5 at a press event in San Francisco. The new iPhone is an important one for Apple, as it breaks with a lot of the design conventions and specifications that we've come to expect from them. Let's take a closer look at the new iPhone 5 and see what's changed in what will no doubt be one of the most popular phones of 2012!
4" widescreen display
The big new feature of the iPhone 5 is a new, taller display. Measuring 4" diagonally, the new display is in the common 16:9 aspect ratio that is used for HD content like films and console video games. That extra vertical space brings with it the ability to include five rows of icons on a home screen instead of four. Apps developed for the new iPhone can also take advantage of the extra space to show you more, but apps that haven't been modified to suit the new iPhone will run with black bars on either side.
If you're interested, the new display's resolution is 1136 x 640, taking it beyond the 300 pixels-per-inch requirement of Retina but falling just shy of 720p HD. Top Android phones like the Galaxy S III and HTC One X operate at this resolution, but also have much larger 4.7" and 4.8" displays. The iPhone 5 screen is much thinner than these though, as the touch sensors are integrated into the glass.
18% thinner, 20% lighter
Probably the most noticeable change when you pick up an iPhone 5 is its weight - or lack thereof. Despite including a taller screen and faster internal components, the iPhone 5 is the thinnest and lightest iPhone ever. It is 18% thinner (7.6 mm) and 20% lighter (112 g) compared to its predecessor.
Apple have also been streamlining other parts of the phone, including the connector. Instead of the classic 30 pin interface that has existed since 2003, Apple have introduced a new 'Lightning' connector that uses 8 pins, is reversible and is about the size of micro USB. While this breaks compatibility with existing iPhone accessories, it also means that there is much more space on the bottom. This has been used to relocate the headphone jack to the bottom of the phone and enlarge the speaker grilles.
From the front the new iPhone looks similar to the 4S and 4, but from the back changes appear. Most noticeable is a two-tone pattern that caps the top and bottom part of the back plate with glass. This means that the phone is listed as being available in "black and slate" or "white and silver".
Double the performance
Of course, there are also some important changes inside the phone. Perhaps the most notable is a new Apple A6 processor, which is believed to be a very quick dual-core device. Apple also appear to have doubled the new of graphics cores in the new device, and promise more than double the performance from this latest iPhone to its predecessor. Considering the higher resolution, this is pretty impressive.
The iPhone 5 also includes an important new feature for customers in the UK - support for high speed LTE networks. The newly rebranded EE will be offering the iPhone 5 LTE exclusively in the UK, with coverage areas beginning with Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff and London and expanding to many more cities by the end of the year. A non-LTE version will also be available, of course. As well as support for a new high speed data network, the new iPhone also supports HD Voice (for better sounding voice calls) from carriers that support it and a new 5 GHz compatible Wi-Fi card.
The camera of the iPhone 5 has also been upgraded. While the megapixel count remains at 8, there is a new sapphire lens with a dynamic IR filter and a low light mode that should allow for much better shots at night or in dark areas. The new processor also helps things along, with a new dedicated image signal processor and 40% shot times. On the software side of photography, there's a new Panorama mode that produces 28 megapixel panoramic photographs. Finally, video recording has also seen a boost, with 720p HD video recording on the front-facer and better image stabilisation on the rear.
Better battery life
With all this new technology, you'd expect there to be an impact to battery life. According to Apple this won't be the case however, with 8 hours of 3G talk time or internet use expected. There'll also be 10 hours of video playback and 40 hours of audio playback; an impressive stat for such a thin and light iPhone.
So it sounds pretty good, but what is the cost? Well, the iPhone 5 will be quite expensive upon its release, with a high up-front cost for sim-free buyers. It starts at £529 for the 16 GB model, £599 for the 32 GB model and £699 for the 64 GB model. Pre-orders begin on Friday.
Of course, a new iPhone also means that previous generations will be available for a much lower price - the iPhone 4S will cost £449 from Apple and the iPhone 4 will cost £319. The iPhone 3GS has now been discontinued. So if you're looking for an iPhone at a discount, this is an excellent time to pick one up.
What do you think?
So there we have it - the new iPhone 5. With a larger screen, thinner and lighter design, improved performance, LTE support, better cameras and improved battery life, there's a lot going for it. But what do you think about the new iPhone? Let us know in the comments below or talk to me on Twitter @wsjudd.