On Thursday in San Francisco, CEO Tim Cook and a rotating cast of Apple executives raised the curtains on the latest addition to the i-family, the long-awaited iPhone 5. The phone boasts a number of the incremental hardware bumps the tech press had forecast during months of rumors and leaks. Does the new iPhone live up to the hype? Here, seven things you need to know:
1. Almost everything shrank
Smaller seemed to be the theme of the day. The iPhone 5 is 20 percent lighter than its predecessor, the iPhone 4S, and also 18 percent thinner. The body, available in either black or white, is made entirely of aluminum and glass. Also smaller: The iPhone's 30-pin dock connector is now just 8 pins (and known as "Lightning"), designed to work with next-generation Thunderbolt connections. Apple is including an adapter to make the new iPhone backwards-compatible with older accessories, like iHomes or car chargers.
2. The screen is larger
The iPhone's screen got a size bump, from 3.5 inches to 4 inches. The device's width is unchanged, but Apple made the iPhone "taller" to allow for widescreen movies and an extra row of apps. Apple says it's redesigned its apps to fit the new aspect ratio, and older third-party apps will get a black-box surround to make up for the space difference. It's a "skinny li'l fella," says Rik Myslewski at The Register, with a new 1,136-by-640 pixel "Retina display" that reportedly shows less glare in sunlight. Despite the increase, the iPhone 5 still offers less screen real-estate than the Samsung Galaxy S III, so "we can assume that the debate over how much display is practical in a pocketable device will now commence." (See a side-by-side comparison with the iPhone 4S here.)
3. It's faster
The iPhone got a faster A6 processor which puts it on par with the iPad. That's about "twice the performance" of earlier models, says Sean Hollister at The Verge. Unsurprisingly, Apple revealed that the new phone would be powered by 4G LTE on multiple carriers in the United States, including Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. T-Mobile, says Cory Gunther at Slashgear, was "nowhere to be seen."
4. New earphones
"Apple made a historic and much-needed step forward today," says Eric Limer at Gizmodo. It unveiled a set of new headphones called "EarPods." EarPods sit deeper and more securely in the user's ear than earlier models, and will come bundled standard with the iPhone 5. Thank goodness Apple's finally putting its "old, terrible headphones to rest."
5. Older models are now cheaper
Apple's new handset will start at $199 (with contract) for the 16GB model, $299 for the 32GB model, and $399 for the 64GB model. The devices will be available for pre-order beginning on Friday, Sept. 14, and the phone itself will ship on Sept. 21. The older model iPhones will also see a price drop: The iPhone 4S is now $99 for the base model and the iPhone 4 is $0 with a new contract.
6. New iTunes
Apple broke news beyond the iPhone, as well. iTunes, Apple's music service, got a sorely needed update with a "simplified user interface, iCloud integration, and a new mini player [option]," says CNET. The new iTunes offers a more visually driven user-experience, with a new emphasis on big icons and album/poster art — "almost like a media-browsing interface." The new mini player will occupy an unobtrusive little box that users can easily move to any part of their desktop screen.
7. New iPods
The brand new iPod touch "inherits the same exact screen of the iPhone 5 as well as its extremely thin profile," says NBC News, "but has a softer, rounder back." It also runs iOS 6 and is compatible with Apple's virtual assistant, Siri. The iPod Nano also got a screen-size boost: Apple added a 2.5-inch display and a home button. Pricing starts at $299 for the 32GB iPod touch, and the iPod nano is $149 for the 16GB version. Both will be available come October.