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Apple iPhone 5 unveiled today, so what's new?

by Mark Tyson on 12 September 2012, 23:15

Tags: iPhone, PC

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Today Apple launched its much anticipated new iPhone 5 smartphone. In days and weeks prior to the launch there were lots of leaked specifications and images of various aspects of the device which have proved to be pretty accurate. The first iPhone launch since the death of Steve Jobs is hoped to continue the legacy of success by bringing to market a new thinner, lighter and faster iPhone married to the refined iOS 6.

The FT reports that as Phil Schiller unveiled the new iPhone 5 he said “We’ve improved everything in the iPhone 5. Everything has been enhanced, reengineered and redesigned.” So let us have a look at what constitutes the iPhone 5...

The outsides

Let’s start by looking at the physical properties of the new iPhone. The new iPhone 5 is 18 per cent thinner and 20 per cent lighter than the iPhone 4S. The dimensions are 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm; that’s a pretty thin phone which is the same single-hand-operation-friendly width as the 4S but about 8mm longer to accommodate the new 4-inch wide-screen. The new smartphone tips the scales at a dainty 112 grams compared to the 4S’s sturdy 140 grams. Apple has decided to use the nanoSIM card standard. Initially the iPhone 5 is going to be available in two colour combinations; black & slate and white & silver.

The insides

  • Display: The new 4-inch 1136x640 pixels IPS display has the same density as the iPhone 4S at 326 ppi but the length gives it a wider aspect allowing you to “watch widescreen HD video in all its glory - without letterboxing”.
  • Data and wireless: The headline here is 4G/LTE compatibility including the EE network in the UK. To fall back you also have 3G HSPA, HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA data and dual band Wi-Fi 802.11n. Bluetooth 4.0 is installed too.
  • Processor: The new A6 chip is “up to twice as fast compared with the A5 chip” for both CPU and graphic operations.
  • Battery: Even with the extra processing power and larger screen the new iPhone 5 has “more than enough battery power to last throughout the day” offering 8 hours 3G browsing, 8 hours talk time or even 10 hours of video playback.
  • Camera: the main camera is the same spec as the iPhone 4S at 8 megapixels, AF with flash and f/2.4 aperture but the front “Facetime HD” camera is boosted from VGA (4S) to 1.2 megapixels at 30fps.
  • Connections: The new main connector you will use to charge and sync the iPhone 5 is dubbed the “Lightning connector.” Apple says that “It features an all-digital, eight-signal design that’s significantly more durable than the 30-pin connector”, a natty thing about this cable is that it is reversible which will save a lot of night time fumbling. A Lightning to 30-pin Adapter will be sold so iPhone 5 buyers can use their old accessories.


  • iOS 6: Comes installed as standard on the iPhone 5. It reportedly has 200 more features than its predecessor to make your mobile finger poking more productive and fun.
  • Maps: As we saw in June, Apple’s  iOS 6 has replaced Google Maps with a mapping system of its own. It uses the well regarded TomTom mapping data.
  • Siri: The “intelligent assistant” built into the iPhone 5 “understands more questions, knows more answers and gives you a lot more to talk about”. Now Siri can post to your Facebook or Tweet for you.
  • iCloud: Is built into the iPhone 5. New features enable better sharing. Also Find My iPhone lets forgetful or unlucky users locate, lock and recover your lost pride and joy (iPhone).
  • AirPlay and AirPrint: Allow you to wirelessly output what you see on your iPhone; to HDTV and printer respectively.

iPhone 5 pricing

Apple UK prices for iPhones are as follows: iPhone 5 from £529, iPhone 4S £449, iPhone 4 £319. To purchase the iPhone 5 you can “Pre-order online from 14 September. Or buy at your favourite Apple Retail Store starting at 8:00 am on 21 September.” As you can see the iPhone 3GS has been removed from sale, it dropped off the end of the marketing conveyor belt.

Overall the biggest iPhone 5 improvements are the new wide-screen which prompted a slight elongation of the design. Also the new A6 processor seems mightily impressive but I wonder what all the processing power will be used for. In the UK the iPhone 5 will be able to work on EE’s 4G network when it gets booted up, shortly. Other 4G devices on offer from EE will be the Nokia Lumia 920 and 820, the HTC One XL, Samsung Galaxy S III LTE and Huawei Ascend P1 LTE. What would be your choice?

UPDATE: Apple has now uploaded a video of the unveiling event (requires QuickTime).

HEXUS Forums :: 67 Comments

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Quite underwelming.

2X faster processor… That means they most likely bumped the cpu speed from 800mhz to 1,5ghz…. Welcome to 2011 Apple. The European Galaxy S3 and One X are Quad core 1,5ghz…

8Mpixels camera… good… my old phone from 2010 had that.

They changed the connector… YES, finally a standard micro USB like the rest of the industry…. wait… NOP, just an other proprietary connector compatible with nothing.

And the screen resolution. Other high-end phone are at 1280x720 now, standard 720p, so perfect for videos. Apple's not quite there yet with that weird resolution.
And old apps will be letter boxed… really?
Let's not forget that all old docks won't work - means great chance for iPhone owners to break from the Apple ecosystem.

Didn't Apple say a few years ago that widescreen ratios were completely inappropriate for smartphones? “Just right” my ass.

iOS 6 = iOS 5 + more useless siri - Google.

I still stand by my belief that the iPhone 4 is horrible to hold, yet Apple is still sticking with the design.

Before you could from time to time be envious of iPhone owners or other times respect their decision as the iPhone offered some serious competition… now… I wouldn't be able to understand iPhone over an Android market leader.
The stupidly long body makes the screen ratio look a lot weirder than (almost) 16:9.
One or two useful things there - having a cable that can be plugged in either way round is definitely a plus in terms of usability. Making all old cables incompatible though? Not a fan of that. Nearly as bad as when they changed the charging requirements for no obvious reason, rendering loads of e.g. car chargers useless with newer devices.
Battery? We'll have to wait and see.
I'll wait and see how the Note 2 is reviewed I think..
The A6 uses ARM A15 cores, which are almost twice as efficient clock for clock than the A9's used in the A5 (argh too many A's) so i'd suspect the chip is running at ~1GHz

I'd hazzard a guess the odd resolution (identical width) might be due to a upscaling (or lack thereof) issue with older apps.

I do hope they've increased the amount of ram it has
It's being suggested that the new A6 is an ARM A15 chip making it equally as powerful as many quad core chips. The GPU is stated to be 2x faster but this is probably in relation to the A5 and not A5X so we're looking at the same graphical prowess as the New iPad, which is nothing to complain about.

Hopefully the reduced weight will slightly offset any comfort issues with holding it though I agree the 4 doesn't feel great, especially compared to me Nexus S. As for the camera it can't be denied that the 4S's camera tests very well against competitors and were looking at basically the same camera here.

The screen resolution isn't a problem at all if you actually take the time to think about it. 720p would be a pointless step up at this size and would cause compatibility issues with existing apps, letter boxing however presents the problem of raising the keyboard higher on the screen unless they implement some clever coding.

Can we get over the Apple hatred and accept that iOS is optimized for a specific selection of hardware and therefore can do a lot more with it than Android can in it's current form. I love my Nexus and have no intention of moving into the walled garden but I'm also realistic about the merits of the Apple ecosystem. It would be nice if non-Apple users gave them a little respect for what they have accomplished.