It's been more than two years since Apple last introduced a major re-design to their iPhone. It was way back in June of 2010 than Steve Jobs announced the much anticipated iPhone 4. Since then the iPhone 4S has come and gone and with the passing of Steve Jobs, rumors surrounding the iPhone 5 have kicked into high gear. Widely regarded as the last product with which Steve had a hand in development, the world has waited with bated breath.
On September 12th, Tim Cook and Phil Schiller unveiled to the world the latest incarnation of the iPhone.
Bigger, Faster, Stronger
The iPhone 5 delivers a 4" diagonal display with a resolution of 1126 x 640 @ 326ppi, retaining the Retina display moniker designated by Apple. Native apps from Apple will run full screen, and current apps will be letterboxed and run at a 960 x 640 resolution on the new 16:9 display. The increased length of the display allows for another row and four more icons on each screen. This is a welcome addition to those that try to have as few screens as possible or need as much real estate as possible on their home screen.
iPhone 5 comes with "Ultrafast Wireless" connectivity. iPhone 5's new and improved dynamic antenna allows for switching between different antenna connections: GPRS, EDGE, EV-DO, HSPA, HSPA+, DC-HSDPA and LTE. LTE has a maximum connection of 10 Mbps, faster than some home Internet connections. In Canada, and it will be running on Rogers, Telus, Bell, Fido, and Virgin. In Canada, at least on Rogers, a new SIM card will be required, because the iPhone 5 uses a nanoSIM rather than a microSIM.
Battery life is said to be improved upon the iPhone 4S and over 3G or LTE is quoted at 8 hours and up to 10 hours if using WiFi. They're claiming 10 hours of video playback, 40 hours of audio, and up to 225 hours on standby... not sure if I've ever left my phone unattended for that long.
Camera, Lightning and NFC
You also get a marginally improved camera, mostly in its new low light capabilities with the new Dynamic Low Light Mode that's said to give a 2 f-stops improvement in low light performance. It's spec'd with the same 8MP, f/2.4, 5 element lens as the iPhone 4S and it should continue to perform as one of the best smartphone cameras currently available.
The new A6 chip also renders better noise reduction, there's a smart filter to improve colour matching, and you get faster photo capture. The front facing camera is now a 720p 1.2MP unit, which should mean much improved video calling.
The new dock connector, appropriately named Lightning... is reversible, which means no more fumbling in the dark trying to figure out which way to plug it in. The new Lighting adapter looks to be quite large, and unless some new adapters are released (which Apple claims to be developing), there are going to be some very obsolete accessories. At $35, these should really help to pad Apple's bottom line. Phil Schiller from Apple promises this will be the connector for many years to come.
Missing is NFC as Apple claims that Passbook (available in iOS 6) does the kind of things that consumers need today and that NFC is not a clear solution to the problems that exist today. As anyone who has travelled outside of North America knows, NFC is alive and well, existing in South Korea and Japan for the last 10 years. I really think Apple missed the mark by not including an NFC chip.
Do You Want an iPhone 5?
If you are an iPhone 4 or earlier user, then an upgrade is a logical choice. The camera alone is worth the upgrade. Add in the new A6 processor and it's an easy decision. If you using an iPhone 4S, unless you need the larger screen or LTE, I don't think it's worth an upgrade. Once again, with Apple, the upgrade seems to be best with every second product cycle.
The iPhone 5 will come in two colours: Black & Slate, and White & Silver. It'll be available in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions, coming up for pre-order on September 14th, 2012. Pricing in the United States has been set at $199, $299 and $399 on a two-year contract, but we're still waiting on the carrier subsidized pricing for Canada.