iPhone 5 revealed: 4G, longer screen and a £529 price tag

13/09/2012

Apple has unveiled its latest iPhone, offering 4G connectivity, a longer screen and improved hardware and software, all for £529. Apple said the handset would work on Everything Everywhere's (EE) 4G LTE network in the UK. The handset will ship on 21 September and is powered by new A6 processor that is twice as fast at graphics and processing, while RAM memory will double to 1GB. However, it does not feature a NFC (near field communication) chip to allow it to make touchless payments. In addition, the handset does not offer wireless charging like Nokia's Lumia 920.

Watch the trailer here:

The phone's front camera is improved to record 720p video, improving video calls. The camera is an eight megapixel model - the same as in the iPhone 4S, and a lower specification than LG and Sony's most recent devices.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook kicked off the product's launch event in San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center but it was marketing chief Phil Schiller who introduced the iPhone 5 and took the audience through the new phone's features.

4G (LTE) connectivity

The biggest breakthough feature of the iPhone 5 was 4G connectivity, which will allow for much faster browsing and streaming. In the UK, this will give a huge advantage to EE’s new 4G service, ahead of networks Vodafone and O2.

Matthew Howett, practice leader of Ovum’s regulatory telecoms team, said: “By supporting LTE using the frequencies that EE are deploying their 4G network over, EE will effectively have an initial monopoly on sales of the iPhone 5 since customers will only fully benefit from its capabilities if they take it though EE. The question will of course be how many non-EE customers will make the switch. Many will already be in contract with their existing provider, however with more than two years since the last major release (the iPhone 4), there could be a good number of people in the market for a new mobile provider.

“For Vodafone and O2, who have spoken out against EE’s early 4G launch, this could well be what they were waiting for before launching a legal challenge to Ofcom’s decision. The regulator must be fairly confident of its position and has said will be ready to defend it. The impact the challenge has on EE’s launch will crucially depend on whether a court would approve a suspension of service. If so, the reputation to what is only a one-day-old brand could prove fatal.”

iphone5.jpg

Bigger is better?

The new device is 20% lighter than the 4S and 18% thinner. According to Apple this makes it the thinnest smartphone in the world. The 4 inch screen which has increased from 3.5 in previous models also lets you see five rows of apps instead of 4.

The new screen offers a 16:9 ratio, matching that of widescreen televisions. The new size also allows it to display an extra row of app icons on its home screen.

Not making the screen wider is a good move as the phone can still be comfortably held and operated with one hand. The rival Samsung Galaxy S3 is thought by many to be too big for easy single hand use.

Apple have also redesigned their earphones, which are now called “EarPods”, taking three years to develop and are designed to fit more comfortably in your ear whilst delivering improved sound quality.

Another feature that may well annoy more people than it please is the new dock connector that means all third party devices and chargers will need an adapter to work. The adapter is listed as being £25 on Apple's site.

The adapter is much smaller and called, Lightning. Apple say the change was made for compatibility with it’s Thunderbolt connector.

Price and specs

The iPhone 5 will be sold with either 16 gigabytes, 32GB or 64GB of storage. The basic model will be sold for £529 in the UK, but the figure will be lower if bought with a network contract.

In addition to launching the new model, Apple will continue to ship versions of the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4, but is phasing out 2009's iPhone 3GS.

The iPhone 5 ships on 21st Septmeber in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore . It will hit 100 countries by year's end in the fastest international rollout for an iPhone so far.

Analysts have forecast sales of 10 million to 12 million of the new iPhones in this month alone.

iOS 6 and software upgrades

Apple also found time to let the world know when iOS 6 is going to be released- on September the 19th.

However, some older iOS devices aren't going to be included in the update program, including the first generation iPad, an iPhone that pre-dates the 3GS, or a third generation or older iPod touch.

The new OS has been in beta since WWDC earlier in the year, with a new Maps app, and an app that lets user unify a phone number and an Apple ID for cross platform messaging and Facetime.

Upgrades to the software include voice navigation for driving, a feature already available on many Android smartphones, as well as "Passbook" for storing electronic boarding passes, sports tickets and gift cards.

Siri has been improved. In an onstage demonstration, Siri was able to answer questions about the result of a recent pro football game and recite a list of movies playing around town, along with ratings.

Apple also announced iTunes, its media player and store for Macs and PCs, was being redesigned and would be released in October, and it also unveiled new iPods.

Earlier, Cook told the audience that its apps store now has more than 700,000 on tap -- the industry's largest library.

"When you look at each of these, they are incredible industry-leading innovations by themselves. But what sets them apart, and what places Apple way out in front of the competition, is how they work so well together," Cook said toward the end of the two-hour presentation.

Market competition

The latest iPhone comes as Apple faces competition beyond current key competitors Samsung and Google. Late entrant Microsoft Corp is now trying to push its Windows Phone 8 operating system as an alternative to Apple and Android, the most-used smartphone operating system in the world.

Analysts have forecast sales of 10 million to 12 million of the new iPhones in this month alone.

According to the firm's most recent earnings report the iPhone and related services and accessories accounted for 52% of $120bn (£74bn) total net sales over the nine months running up to July - 98 million handsets were sold in that time.

That has helped boost its share price to new heights. At the end of last week the firm was worth $637.85bn based on its share price. That was the highest such valuation to date if you do not adjust Microsoft's 1998 figure for inflation.

However, competition is intensifying. While Apple's margins may be wider, Samsung's handset sales are growing at a faster pace.

According to data from IDC the South Korean firm accounted for 43.6% of the Western European smartphone market between April and June compared to Apple's 19%.

iPad Mini soon?

Industry analysts have speculated about what else was in Apple's product pipeline ahead of the crucial year-end holiday season, especially since the company stayed mum about an oft-rumored TV device or a smaller iPad.

The smaller tablet is still not confirmed, and there are no specific details regarding the size, weight or capacity of a possible iPad mini, but an August report from Digitimes claimed that the iPad's smaller sibling would be around 7.85in, with a thinner screen frame and bigger display, as well as resolution similar to the iPad 2.

All signs so far point to an October debut for the new iPad. If it does launch at that time, it sets up the iPad Mini for holiday sales, and it gives consumers enough time to look at and start buying the iPhone 5.

Analysis

Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum provides his view of some of the more major changes, such as its increase in vertical height:

“The device highlights the inherent risks involved in Apple’s strategy of only releasing one device at a time, in that it always has to strike a compromise that is most likely to appeal to a wide base of users. The new device strikes that compromise most dramatically in the increased vertical height. With many Android and Windows Phone devices now significantly larger than the iPhone 4S and gaining popularity, the pressure has grown on Apple to release a larger device. By only increasing the vertical height, it’s created a device that’s notably taller and thinner in aspect ratio than most of those Android devices, and as a result it will stand out, which may not be a good thing. While keeping the device small enough for some hands is important, many customers would have wanted something bigger, and they’ll be disappointed.

“On the other hand, the addition of LTE, the improvements in battery life, performance and the camera and so on will help the device appeal to existing iPhone users, and either close the gap or broaden its lead against competing devices. It seems likely that Apple will nevertheless sell tens of millions of iPhone 5 devices in the next few months and well over 100 million in total over the next year. iPhone users who are currently using an iPhone 4 and have the opportunity to upgrade will no doubt do so in large numbers, and the more fanatical iPhone 4S users will do the same. It will also sell lots of the previous two generations of devices as those go on sale at a lower price. Android’s lead in total shipments and installed base will continue to grow, however, as Apple’s devices continue to target just a subset of the addressable market and Android devices meet a much wider range of customer preferences and price points.”

http://www.apple.com/iphone/

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