Apple has announced the iPhone 5, the number increase supposedly signalling a major new upgrade (as opposed to the 3G,3GS,4S). So what’s new? Short answer – not an awful lot. Long answer – lots of incremental upgrades and a few notable new features, but nothing that’s going to blow your mind. Still, read on for the full lowdown.
Let’s Get Physical
Just as the leaked designs showed, the backing plate is now aluminium rather than glass. It’s 20% lighter than the 4S at 112g; and the thinnest phone ever at 7.6mm (18% thinner than the 4S at 9.3mm). While the white model appears to have a traditional “aluminium colored” metal band, the black model has been anodized to a darker slate colour:
On the inside, it’s a new A6 chip – roughly twice the speed of A5. A new version of Real Racing was demoed, and showed some really stunning 3D performance with “console quality” graphics; including dynamic reflective surfaces and even rear-view mirrors. The demo also showed a unique new competitive element of time-shifted multiplayer for Real Racing; player 1 plays and GameCenter records their movements; player 2 then plays against that, almost like a ghost, but the physical interactions change the final time results of player 1.
The screen is now 4″ diagonal, with a 16:9 aspect ratio, perfect for widescreen movies. Basically, it’s been stretched a bit vertically, and the homescreen now has an additional row of icons. Core apps are updated, but older apps will simply run with a small black border at the top and bottom – no stretching of apps occurs.
Apple claim 44% more color saturation, but I doubt you or I will notice. The multitouch sensor has also been built into the display now, resulting in thinner screen and clearer picture.
LTE support has been added, even for the UK where we don’t even have a LTE network yet (EE will be launching soon apparently), and a wide range of providers around the world. There are too many to list here, so check the official LTE support page for your country.
On the Wi-Fi front, dual-band 5gHz N is supported too, as well as everything else you’d expect.
The dock connector has been there since the start, and was due for a refresh. An adaptor is available, but the new connector looks like this. It’s reversible too, so no more fiddling to figure out which way is up.
A mildly better battery life, with 10 full hours of video playback and 225 hours standby.
In low profile devices, the camera is one of the hardest elements to minimize, but the iPhone 5 exceeds the already stunning 4S camera with better low light performance; still 8 megapixel and fantastic image quality. Capture speed is 40% faster.
To give you an idea of the quality, Apple provided some untouched demo shots; I’m impressed. They seem to be living in a world much shinier than mine, that’s for sure.
A new panorama mode has also been introduced; hordes of panorama apps just got burned.
I’ve done a full rundown of iOS 6 before, but the major features you’re going to notice are:
- Turn-by-turn 3D navigation and maps. Personally, I have trouble actually finding locations with the new maps (running iOS 6 on iPad 3), but this will no doubt improve as more points of interest are added, In America your experience should be great.
- Tweet and FB status posting from notification pulldown.
- Passbook, a digital wallet type app for gift cards, store cards, flight and other tickets.
- Shared photo streams; one click share, friends can comment on them or “like” (unrelated to Facebook).
- Siri knows sports, and movies now.
I must admit, I was fairly unimpressed with the announcement. I’m clearly a difficult person, complacent to the fact that technology will get smaller and thinner and screens will get prettier. I guess it’s only the really cool stuff that pokes me awake from my technology-induced coma nowadays.
But let’s put things into perspective: the iPhone is the best-selling phone, ever. Apple doesn’t want to break a formula they’ve spent years perfecting, and anything too daring will undoubtedly cause the same backlash of negativity that Windows 8 is receiving. An incremental upgrade it may be; but that’s still the best camera phone yet, the fastest processor, a larger screen, and the thinnest smartphone ever.
I don’t want to sound like an Apple apologist here, but sometimes I think we should just take a step back and truly realize how unbelievably powerful and amazing these tiny little devices that fit in our pockets are. If, like me, you’re due for an upgrade on contract anyway, there’s probably no question it’s going to be the iPhone 5.
Let us know in the comments what you think of the new iPhone 5. Are you impressed, or unimpressed like me? What iPhone 5 features would you liked to have seen introduced for iPhone 5? Will you be ordering the new phone when it comes out?