At a keynote address Wednesday afternoon, Apple unveiled several updates to different iDevices, most notably, the long awaited iPhone 5. Rumors surrounding the changes proved to be accurate: a new charging connector, sleeker design and an improved camera.
The phone’s screen is roughly the same size as the previous generation, four inches, but it is taller and slightly narrower. This allows for an additional row of apps on each page, as well as a wider aspect ratio, one that is closer to true 16:9.
Along with an improved screen, Apple has switched over to a completely glass and aluminum build, replacing the 4’s glass back with raw aluminum, providing a beautiful matte finish.
At 7.6 millimeters thick and a mere 112 grams in weight, the iPhone 5 is 18 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter than its predecessor, the 4S. The new design looks to be Apple’s best yet. A combination of manageable yet impressive size and an understated finish give it that cool-factor that Apple has become known for.
One change that won’t sit well with long time iDevice users is Apple’s decision to abandon the classic 32-pin USB connection they have used since the very first iPod. By replacing the old connection with a new design they call Lightning, they are making obsolete some ten years of cable stockpiling.
A little disappointing, maybe, but the new Lightning connection does appear to be superior. With a reversible design, this cable should prove to be immensely less frustrating. It sees the return of a thicker, more protective cover near the phone-end of the cable. This should hopefully reduce the fourth generation cable’s tendency to fray in a matter of days.
Perhaps most excitingly, the iPhone 5 will support LTE data service on all U.S. carriers. Pricing plans and data migrations — what will happen to AT&T grandfathered unlimited data users, for instance — have not been announced.
Battery life becomes a point of concern when handset manufacturers begin upgrading the cellular services, but Apple seems confident that their device will perform even longer than its previous models.
With figures estimating eight hours of 4G talk time, eight hours of 3G/4G LTE web browsing, 10 hours of video playback, 40 hours of audio playback and 225 hours on standby, the company is confident in the new battery. Those are impressive numbers.
The camera has received minor upgrades, as well. Though it will retain the same 8-megapixel sensor, Apple has designed a new feature it is calling “dynamic low-light mode.” If the new feature works as intended, it should help reduce the annoying bluish tint brought on by the 4S’s flash.
Accompanying the updated camera will be a new Photos feature titled “Shared Photo Streams” which will allow users to instantly share photos by linking photo albums with friends. This could go terribly wrong in the hands of some less than careful celebrities.
Another camera upgrade is the addition of a Panorama Shot creator. By turning the device vertically and swiping across the screen, a ~25 megapixel photo will be captured. A feature a long time coming, it’s good to see Apple’s usual design simplicity manifested throughout.
Preorders will open up Friday, September 14 and orders will begin shipping September, 22. Apple has kept all prices the same, 16GB for $199, 32GB for $299 and 64GB for $399.
The iPhone 5 will be available later this month and will come in two color options: black and slate, and white with a silver aluminum back.