As expected, the iPhone 5 led a busy Wednesday of product announcements for Apple. But it wasn’t the only unveiling at the company’s San Francisco press event, which also featured new iPod models for the holiday season, a revamped version of iTunes, and a shipping date for iOS 6.
But the latest iPhone was clearly the star of the show during the two-hour long press briefing hosted by CEO Tim Cook and featuring a multitude of Apple executives. The new iPhone features a taller screen, new dock connector port, LTE support, and camera improvements.
You’ll be able to pre-order the iPhone 5 on September 14, with the phone arriving in stores a week later in the U.S. and eight other countries. Pricing remains unchanged from the iPhone 4S: A 16GB iPhone 5 costs $199, a 32GB iPhone 5 costs $299, and the 64GB model costs $399.
That buys you a phone with a taller display than the preceding iPhones. The iPhone 5’s Retina display measures 4 inches diagonally, with 1136 by 640 resolution. That extra space allows Apple to squeeze in an extra row of icons on the home screen; native apps are also being updated to take advantage of the larger display.
The iPhone 5 does away with the 30-pin dock connector port, swapping in a smaller port that Apple has dubbed Lightning (a play off the Thunderbolt interface used in Apple’s Mac lineup).
The iPhone 5 adds support for LTE, HSPA+, and DC-HSDPA on top of the GPRS, EDGE, EV-DO, and HSPA networking capabilities of the last iPhone. LTE partners in the U.S. include Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon.
The built-in camera features an 8-megapixel sensor and features a lens cover for the first time. The new A6 processor that powers the iPhone 5 includes an image signal processor for improved photographs. The Camera app also includes a Panorama feature for stitching together wide shots.
When it ships, the iPhone 5 will run iOS 6, the next version of Apple’s mobile operating system. Other iOS devices will get to install the new iOS a few days before the iPhone arrives, however: Apple announced a September 19 ship date for iOS 6. iOS 6 is a free update available to the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, fourth-generation iPod touch and later, and the second- and third-generation iPads.
Much of Apple’s iOS 6 demo on Wednesday mirrored a preview of the iOS update offered in June. However, Apple did show off its new mobile stores for iOS 6. The iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore now have a unified matte black design, and Apple promises improved performance.
The aging iPod line also got some attention Wednesday as Apple unveiled updated versions of both the iPod touch and the iPod nano.
The fifth-generation touch now comes in multiple colors and features a loop that can attach to a wrist strap. More significantly, it has the same spruced-spruced up screen introduced with the iPhone 5. (The touch is powered by a dual-core A5 processor, similar to the chip that runs the latest iPad.) Other changes to the iPod touch include camera improvements and iOS 6 compatibility. It will also support Siri, Apple’s voice-activated personal assistant.
The fifth-generation iPod touch costs $299 for a 32GB model and $399 for a 64GB model; it goes on sale in October. 16GB and 32GB versions of the fourth-generation touch remain on sale for $199 and $249.
A new iPod nano is also set for an October release. When it arrives, the seventh-generation nano will feature a multitouch display and support video playback. It also include Bluetooth, giving the nano the ability to wirelessly stream music.
The nano is available in seven colors and costs $149 for a 16GB model.
In addition to the hardware, Apple also announced a overhaul to iTunes that will arrive in October. The new version will offer a simplified interface, the ability to play media directly from iCloud, a new MiniPlayer, a redesigned iTunes Store, and more.
But that new iTunes isn't arriving for another month. Until then, iTunes 10.7, released Wednesday, offers support for iOS 6 running on compatible iOS devices.
As was widely expected, Apple on Wednesday unveiled the iPhone 5, the newest entrant into its smartphone lineup. The iPhone 5 sports a taller screen, a new dock connector port, LTE support, and other refinements. Apple will start taking pre-orders on Friday, and the phone will start shipping on Sept. 21, and it starts at $199.
Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, took the wraps off the new iPhone for press gathered at the company’s San Francisco event, calling the device “the most beautiful product we’ve ever made, bar none.” The iPhone 5 is made entirely of glass and aluminum, Schiller said, adding that the “exacting level of standards” exhibited by the phone is Apple’s best hardware engineering to date.
It’s the thinnest and lightest iPhone, at 7.6mm thin, and 112 grams. Schiller said those measurements make it the world’s thinnest smartphone. The iPhone 5 is also volumetrically smaller than the iPhone 4S.
iPhones and iPads may get the attention these days, but Apple isn't ready to abandon its iconic music players just yet. The company announced two new iPods at its Wednesday media event—updated versions of the iPod touch and the iPod nano.
The new fifth-generation iPod touch is thinner than its predecessor (6.1mm vs. 7.2mm) and lighter (88 grams vs. 101). For the first time, the touch’s case comes in colors (silver black, blue, yellow, and red). There’s a new iPod touch loop: Push it and it pops up, and you can then attach a wrist strap. The new touch’s screen is not only bigger—4 inches diagonally vs. 3.5 before—but it’s also a sharper Retina display; it is, in fact, the same screen as on the iPhone 5.
Inside, the fifth-gen iPod touch has a dual-core A5 processor that Apple claims is up to twice as powerful as the previous model’s CPU; the graphics guts have been updated as well.
The new touch has a much improved camera. It comes with a 5-megapixel sensor and supports 1080p HD video recording. It has autofocus and LED flash for the first time; Apple also claims that the camera’s autoexposure is much improved. Like the iPhone 5, the touch has a sapphire crystal lens cover, and like the iPhone 5, the touch supports a new automated panorama feature, for taking wide shots.
The new version, to which Apple didn’t assign a version number, will be available in late October. At the same time, Apple also updated the current iTunes to 10.7 on Wednesday. iTunes 10.7 adds support for iOS 6 running on compatible iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch models and adds support for the latest iPod nano and iPod shuffle models.
The new iTunes will feature an edge-to-edge design. Clicking on an album expands it in place, and iTunes automatically customizes the look. You can double-click on a song to hear it.
Apple announced at Wednesday’s press event that the newest version of the company’s mobile operating system, iOS 6, will be available for users to download on September 19. The update will be free and available for the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S; the fourth-generation iPod touch; and the the second- and third-generation iPads.
If you have iOS 5 installed, you'll be able to download iOS 6 over the air on the 19th via the Software Update screen in the Settings app; if you're running a previous version of iOS, you'll have to use iTunes.
The newly announced iPhone 5, available September 21, and the fifth-generation iPod touch, available in October, will ship with iOS 6 pre-installed, as will the fifth-generation iPd touch.
Senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller announced the date on-stage at Wednesday's press event after senior vice president of iOS software Scott Forstall took the stage to provide a brief demonstration of some of the new features coming to Apple’s mobile operating system. some of which had already been previewed in June at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference.
Apple’s new iPhone 5 sports a better, faster iSight camera with enhanced still and video capabilities and improved low-light performance. Many of the improvements are software-based.
While the camera is still 8 megapixels, like the previous 4S model, its resolution is now 3264-by-2448 on a retina display. There's still backside illumination, a hybrid IR filter, a five-element lens, and a fast f/2.4 aperture. A new dynamic low-light mode can sense dim light and boost the aperture by two stops.
A new optical system includes precision lens alignment, which Apple says is measured down to the micron level. For the first time, a sapphire crystal lens promises clearer and sharper images. The ability to take macro and close-up photos has also improved.
A new image signal processor is built into the iPhone 5’s new A6 chip, and Apple says that the camera is 40 percent faster than its predecessor and has 44 percent more color saturation than the previous model. Spatial noise reduction removes noise via a smart filter that looks at images and performs noise reduction and figures out which areas should be of uniform color or texture. That improves low-light performance, overall.
On the software side, there’s now a panorama capability. The process, as demonstrated in the keynote, is easy. Just tap, hold the phone vertically, and sweep the scene you want to capture. According to Apple, the camera, the device's gyroscope, and high-powered new chip work in concert to capture up to a 240-degree panorama span of up to 28 megapixels. Software tells you what pace to move it at, on the fly. The software is designed to compensate for camera movement and some jerky motion.
The iPhone 5 offers many improvements over its predecessor, including a larger screen, better performance, LTE, and an improved camera. But for those upgrading from an older iPhone, there’s another change that might prove to be more significant, at least when it comes to compatibility: a new dock connector. Apple has done away with its proprietary—and nine-year-old—30-pin connector in favor of a new, smaller alternative. Why did Apple make the change? And what does it mean for you—and for your existing accessories? Here’s a look at this new connector, dubbed Lightning.
30 pins, nine years
Apple’s 30-pin dock-connector port has been a staple of iPods, iPhones, and iPads since the third-generation iPod hit store shelves back in 2003. While most media players offered simple USB connectivity for data and charging, Apple’s single port offered a slew of functionality: power, audio-out, playback control, and speedy data syncing were among the initial features.
Over the years, the 30-pin port has gained some features (HD-video output, photo importing, and USB input, for example) while losing others (FireWire charging and data transfer), but it’s served us—and Apple—well: Along with Apple’s Universal dock-cradle design, the 30-pin port ensured that if we bought an accessory with a dock connector—speakers, docks, car chargers and mounts, you name it—that product would work with any recent i-device.
The new product—dubbed EarPods—replaces the earphones that have been shipping with Apple’s portable devices for more than a decade.
Apple vice president of iPod, iPhone, and iOS product marketing Greg Joswiak said that Apple has shipped over 600 million sets of headphones—making 1.2 billion little speakers in the process. “Doing a great headphone is hard, because ears are really really challenging,” he said. “But you gotta make one size fit all.”
Apple spent three years designing its new EarPods, which Joswiak described as “unlike any headphone you’ve ever heard before.”