Apple unveiled the new iPhone 5 in California last night, a thinner and lighter version of its iconic device capable of running on many (but not all) of the world’s 4G/LTE networks.
Much of the speculation in the run up to the launch proved correct: the new device has a larger 4-inch Retina display – enough room for a fifth row of icons – but is 18 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter than its predecessor, the iPhone 4S. It is powered by Apple’s new A6 chip, which the firm claims can provide up to twice the CPU and graphics performance, while at the same time improving battery life.
It also sports an 8MP iSight camera, improved audio and microphones (including a redesign of Apple’s famous white earbuds); and – as widely expected – a new connector known as ‘Lightning,’ replacing the 30-pin cable used for many years on Apple gadgets.
It will run the previously-announced iOS6, which includes 200 new features to the software, notably new mapping and navigation (by Apple rather than Google) and deeper Facebook integration.
Although the general view from analysts was that the iPhone 5 is an evolutionary rather than revolutionary step forward, many are predicting it will contribute to record iPhone sales in the upcoming holiday quarter. Apple’s current iPhone sales record is the 37.04 million shifted in the quarter following the launch of the iPhone 4S a year ago.
The iPhone 5 will retail in the US (after subsidy) for US$199 (16GB), US$299 (32GB) and US$399 (64GB). It will ship in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the UK on Friday 21 September with pre-orders taken from tomorrow (14 September). The device will rollout to 22 more countries on 28 September.
Three regional models of the iPhone 5 have been developed to serve different mobile standards and frequency bands. A GSM model designed to operate on AT&T’s LTE network and in Canada; a CDMA model that supports 700MHz LTE in the US (Verizon Wireless) and Japan (KDDI); and a second GSM model offering support for LTE at 1800MHz in the UK (EE), Germany (Deutsche Telekom), Australia (Telstra, Optus), Japan (SoftBank), South Korea (SK Telecom, KT), Hong Kong (SmarTone) and Singapore (M1, SingTel).
The current iPhone 4S has been reduced to US$99 in the US, while the earliest model still being sold and supported is 2010’s iPhone 4, which is now available for free on a two-year contract.