Putting an end to all the rumours and speculation, Apple offically pulled the covers off the iPhone 5 yesterday at an event held in San Francisco. This sixth generation iPhone is one of the most highly anticipated devices from Apple. Though the features seem impressive, the device didn’t bring in a lot of surprises, owing to the frequent leaks. The new iPhone 5 is tall and skinny, and promises speedier performance. The company has also worked out some good audio technologies and connectivity features. Read on, there’s much more.
Apple’s iPhone continues to shed some weight with each generation and this time it’s become a little taller too. The new iPhone 5 is longer and slimmer compared to the iPhone 4S. It is the thinnest iPhone ever at 7.6mm, but not the slimmest phone in the world as stated on the Apple website (Motorola Razr is sleeker at 7.1mm). Weighing 112 grams, the iPhone 5 is crafted from anodised aluminium and glass which makes it 18 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter than the iPhone 4S. It is easy to grip as the width still remains the same, ensuring comfortable use with one hand. Apple has even put up a 5 minute video that shows how the iPhone has been precisely engineered for a perfect finish. It says that the variances are now measured in microns.
Unlike all the previous iterations of the iPhone, the iPhone 5 sports a bigger 4-inch Retina display. Moreover, the 4-inch, 1136 x 640 pixel touchscreen packs in 326 pixels per inch. Taking advantage of the big screen, the Apple OS now adds fifth row of icons and has an aspect ratio of nearly 16:9. Reportedly, Apple has removed a layer from the display and built the touch sensors right into the panel, which means a more accurate display. It adds better colour saturation as well.
At the core of the iPhone 5 lies the new A6 chip that claims to deliver double the CPU and graphics performance compared to the previous A5 chip. Apple assures us that the rise in performance doesn’t compromise on the battery life. It promises enviable battery life even with this speedier processor. At the event, Tim Cook hinted at a smaller transistor size which makes the chip 22 percent smaller than A5. However, there’s still no word on the number of cores and clock speed.
Camera and related features
Just like the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5 also has an 8 megapixel (3264 x 2448 pixel) camera but the sensor is 25 percent smaller. Its five-element, f/2.4 lens now uses a sapphire crystal that is thinner and more durable than glass. The new A6 processor employs better noise reduction and improved low-light performance. The chip is capable of analysing which image needs to be processed and which needs to be left alone, claiming that this enables better low light photography. It has backside illumination and a hybrid infrared filter. The new panorama mode has been introduced that stitches together full resolution photos up to 28 megapixels in size. The iPhone 5 offers 1080p HD video capture with improved image stabilisation, face detection for up to 10 faces and the ability to snap images while shooting video. The front-facing FaceTime camera has also been upgraded and can capture 720p HD videos.
Just like most of the rumours that have turned into reality, Apple’s iPhone 5 uses LTE connectivity and is much faster than the iPhone 4S. On the connectivity front, it supports Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G LTE (region specific), Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS. One will also find support for GSM, UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA, and CDMA. The iPhone 5 talks about ultrafast wireless standards which include LTE and DC-HSDPA, allowing faster browsing. It is said to have built a unique single-radio LTE solution for offering faster speed while fitting into the sleek device body. The dual-channel 5GHz Wi-Fi or 802.11N support means a 150Mbps maximum connectivity speed. The iPhone 5’s connector was the subject of lots of speculation as the company has decided to redesign it after nine years. Like everything else Apple, the connector also has got a name – Lightning. The company will be launching Lightning-to-30-pin Adapter to connect iPhone 5 to legacy 30-pin accessories.
Even with a larger display and 4G LTE connectivity, Apple claims to have improved the battery. Compared to 200 hours of standby time offered by the 4S, the iPhone 5 will be capable of 225 hours of standby time. At the event, the displayed battery life statistics as follows:
- Standby time - 225 hoursTalk time on 3G - 8 hours
- Browsing on 3G – 8 hours
- Browsing on LTE – 8 hours
- Wi-Fi browsing – 10 hours
- Video – 10 hours
- Music – 40 hours
The iPhone 5 will be up for grabs in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB storage capacities. No, don’t expect expandable memory.
OS and Apps
The iPhone 5 runs on the newest flavour of Apple’s operating system – iOS 6. iOS 6 is packed with more than 200 new features. One of the highlights is the Maps app. Apple is set to replace Google Maps with its own Maps app featuring turn by turn navigation, 3D maps and the Flyover view. With the new Facebook integration, you have to sign into your Facebook account only once and the device allows posting from Notification Center, Siri and Facebook enabled apps, such as Photos, Safari and Maps. Safari for iOS 6 now comes with a redesigned icon-based sharing menu. Safari has also received an update to go full screen on the device by touching the arrows in the corners. Another major feature of the new Safari app is the ability to sync tabs between the desktop and iOS versions of Safari. Apple’s iCloud functionality takes another step forward as iOS 6 enables PhotoStream shares. This feature allows quick and easy sharing of photos with a group of other users. All one needs to do is select the photo/photos, find "Photo Stream" in the share menu and add contacts. Some more interesting features are Call Rejection and Reminder, Do Not Disturb and VIP Mail. Siri has been educated further to answer questions about movies, get sports scores, make dinner reservations, tweet and even support newer languages. This isn’t all. It has been enabled with the ‘Eyes Free’ functionality, which lets you talk to Siri while driving, without looking into your handset’s screen. The benefits of this feature are expected to be soon seen in cars by top auto makers.
On the audio front, there is a new beam-forming, directional microphone system for higher quality sound. Apple has introduced new noise-canceling technology for clearer audio. Background noise fades away with new noise canceling technology.
The iPhone 5 has three mics to enable noise cancellation, which will be useful for both voice calls and video, and also help with voice recognition. It supports cellular wideband audio (over 20 carriers across the world will be supporting Wideband audio) for crisper word clarity and natural sounding speech. The iPhone 5 also replaces the infamous earphones and names them EarPods. The new earphones feature a breakthrough design for natural fit and more durability.
Apple will be selling the iPhone 5 at prices similar to those of the iPhone 4S at its launch and has slashed the price of its iPhone 4S and 4. The 16GB, 32GB and 64GB iPhone 5 is priced at approximately Rs. 11,035 ($199), Rs. 16,581 ($299) and Rs. 22,118 ($399) respectively in the US on two-year contracts. The pre-orders will begin in the United States, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore by the end of this week while this will extend to other countries by September 28, though India is also not on that list.
What we liked
Going by the specs, we liked the new larger display, which is something many Apple customers have been waiting for. The new A6 processor is a great improvement. Apple claims it to offer double the processor and graphics speed. We also like that Apple has improved the sound quality which it claims will not only benefit calls but also Siri and video recording. The design is refined and the aluminium and glass make it attractive. The claimed battery life seems like the highlight if the device matches its stated figures. Overall, it is a good improvement considering its LTE abilities and larger display.
What we didn’t like
Apple seems to be quite rigid with its designs, be it the form factor or the UI. Despite the new lighter and taller iPhone, it feels a little monotonous and quite similar to the iPhone 4/4S. The UI again is the same old thing, with nothing refreshing about it. We wonder if the design and UI elements will bother Apple loyalists. The device also misses NFC and the feature on our wish list for a long time, a microSD card slot.
Though there are some nifty improvements, the iPhone 5 didn’t surprise us as much as we had expected it would. On paper it looks good, so let’s wait and see how the device performs.