Despite a barrage of pre-launch hyperbole, Apple’s new iPhone 5, launched today, did not disappoint. Far from being simply an iteration of the existing product, the new device features a new iOS 6 operating system, new components, a thinner form factor, a new camera and even a new connector plug, yielding what the company estimates as a doubling in performance improvement across the board. Arguably the most important enhancement is the introduction of LTE capability, bringing the iPhone into the realm of true 4G mobile broadband.
According to live blogs from today’s launch event, Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Philip Schiller told attendees “We’ve updated every aspect of iPhone 5. Everything has been enhanced, re-engineered and re-designed.”
The device also supports a wide range of cellular communications – including, for the first time, LTE, as well as GPRS, EDGE, EV-DO, HSPA, HSPA+, and DC-HSDPA. It will be supported by AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, as well as numerous global carriers. By year-end, 240 carriers in 100 countries will be supported, the company said.
The iPhone 5 line will sell for $200, $300 and $400 for 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB models, respectively. The products will roll out on Sept. 21 in the U.S. and eight other countries, followed by 22 additional countries on Sept. 28. Apple will begin taking U.S. orders on Friday.
The iPhone 4S will see its price drop to $99, while the iPhone 4 model will be free with a carrier contract.
Cornucopia of New Capabilities
According to reports from today’s event, Apple’s new product design yields a wide range of new features, including:
- Improved battery life over the iPhone 4S, supporting eight hours of 3G talk time and browsing and LTE browsing
- New camera design that senses low light and combines elements for a two-F-stop improvement
- The ability to automatically share photos with a pre-programmed list of contacts as soon as the photos are taken
- A panoramic capability based on software that tells you the pace at which to sweep the device across the subject area
- The ability to take photos while recording video
- An 80% smaller Lightning connector to replace the 30-pin connector in use since the iPod was introduced in 2003 (adapters available)
- 3D turn-by-turn navigation
- Safari browser now has a full-screen mode and provides the ability to separately display and manage messages from key “VIP” contacts
- Automated SMS or iMessaging when a user cannot answer his phone
- A Passbook capability to consolidate virtual tickets, boarding passes and the like
- Enhanced functionality for Apple’s Siri voice command interface, which will now answer sports questions and make dinner reservations
New capabilities made possible by the new iOS 6 operating system also will be available on some earlier generation devices. iOS-based capabilities include Passbook, the Safari upgrades, the Siri upgrades and others.