iPhone 5 with new EarPods

iPhone 5 with new EarPods | Image courtesy of Apple

Apple today announced an unsurprising update to the iPhone. The iPhone 5 as Apple is calling it includes very few surprises following a remarkably detailed series of leaks several months ahead of today’s announcement.

Unlike the iPhone 4S before it the iPhone has had a makeover. The new anodised aluminium body is 18 percent thinner than the 4S and 20 percent lighter. The new carefully manufactured enclosure also returns the prize of the thinnest smartphone in the world back to Apple with the new iPhone 5 measuring just 7.6mm.

The headline feature of the iPhone 5 is the new 4-inch display which increases the physical resolution to 1136 x 640, that’s enough room for an extra row of icons. Apple has already adjusted all of its apps to work with the new screen resolution but third-party apps that are yet to take advantage of the changes will not be stretched but simply centred onto the screen with black bars around them. The new display which features in-cell touch touch technology is also thinner and has 44% more colour saturation.

Also included in the iPhone is the same super fast LTE cellular connectivity that came to the iPad earlier this year. Unlike the iPad the iPhone 5 is compatible with far more networks worldwide but in a similar vein to the iPad Apple has managed to engineer a fantastic LTE chipset giving the iPhone excellent battery life. Apple quotes 8 hour browsing time on LTE, the same as it does on 3G.

Also helping along battery life, apart from a physically larger battery is Apple’s new A6 system-on-chip. Featuring a dual-core ARM Cortex A15 the new chip will be noticeably faster than the iPhone 4S. Apple claims the new A6 SoC brings 2x the CPU and 2x the GPU performance. Another great update to the iPhone 5 is that WiFi a/b/g/n are now supported as well as 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, perfect for house holds that previously had dual networks.

Another heavily touted feature of the iPhone 5 which was largely left unrevealed ahead of release is the new front and rear cameras. The rear camera remains at 8MP but has brand new optics and is 25 percent smaller. The new iSight camera in iPhone 5 features a sapphire crystal lens cover. Hardware aside Apple is showing its software prowess again, the iPhone 5 camera includes face detection of up to 10 faces, panorama capture and the ability to take still photos whilst recording 1080p video. Image capture is also significantly faster allowing for rapid snapping.

iOS 6 and Passbook on black iPhone 5

iOS 6 and Passbook on Black iPhone 5 | Image courtesy of Apple

Maybe the most frustrating change comes in the form of the new Lightning connection on the bottom of the iPhone. Sitting next the headphone jack the new 8-pin connector replaces the near-decade old Dock connector. Touted as a good change by Apple because it is smaller, more durable and can be inserted either way the connector is bound to cause frustrations. Apple is selling an adapter for a whopping $30 which even comes with the caveat “Some 30-pin accessories are not supported.”

Apple’s new iPhone is available to pre-order on Friday September 14 in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the UK with a release the following Friday, September 21.

Another 22 countries will follow on September 28, including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Apple also gave an extensive demo of iOS 6 which the company first showed off at WWDC in June. With very few changes it’s not entirely worth recapping the major features. However Apple did demo the new panorama feature which will also be available on the iPhone 4S, Apple has also made efforts to improve its mapping service but it’s unclear how extensive those efforts have been.

iOS 6 will be available to download for iPhone 4S, 4, 3GS, iPad, iPad 2 and iPod touch on Wednesday September 19.