Time to empty out the wallets once again! The tech-verse has been abuzz with the unveiling of the iPhone 5 at San Francisco, and everything about it shows Apple’s typical, thoughtful ingenuity, and attention to detail.
One of the most notable differences is the size. It has a 4″ retina display and is taller than its previous incarnation, but it’s also lighter and slimmer. The most interesting change is the new dock connector that they switched it to, a plug which they are calling the “Lightning” (reversible! No more fumbling around looking for the ‘up’ side when plugging your phone in the dark!). This will become the new charger for all of their future iPads, iPhones and iPods. This unfortunately means extra cash required for new, compatible car connectors, speaker docks, or other accessories that you’ve bought (not to mention adaptors). Other, more minor changes include the new location for your headphone jack, which is now on the bottom (sure to please some and displease just as many), and relocation of the camera, which is now just above the earpiece instead of to the side.
The iOS 6 that will come with the iPhone 5 has some features that are particularly noteworthy. The long-awaited new map navigation, for example; Apple, as always, has chosen to keep things within their own family, and has finally dropped Google maps after a long period of preparation. Apple’s new Maps app has a turn by turn navigation feature, satellite view, traffic information (all features that Google maps has, I might note), and Siri to navigate you on your way (though Siri haters might have a few qualms about that). The biggest differences are probably the vector-based layout – no more panel by panel loading on slower networks – and some prettier satellite views.
Another major feature is the new Facebook integration: an absolute joy for social butterflies, and a mark of doom for those with an abject dislike of the site. Developers will probably appreciate the feature, with easier ways to publicize and spread the word on apps with less advertising ability. For normal iPhone users, the feature means things like Facebook birthdays and events appearing on your calendar, or the ability to tell Siri to update your timeline. Posting camera photos and marking locations will also be made even easier.
Other note-worthy iOS 6 changes include some handy-dandy new call features, such as instant text message replies with a single tap, or a Do Not Disturb option; the new ‘Passbook’, which allows you to keep track of all your tickets (airline, hotel, movie, or otherwise), coupons, or loyalty cards on your phone (which will also note expiry dates or remaining balances for you); a new panorama ability with the camera (Apple finally decided to pick up what free apps could do ages ago); and iCloud Tabs, which is basically Firefox sync. Oh, and to top it all off, Siri has learned some new languages.
For the more technically minded, the iPhone 5 will feature an A6 chip, supposedly bringing your iPhone activities up to twice as fast as the A5, while still being easy on the power consumption (the Apple website claims 8 hours LTE browsing time, 8 hours talk time, and 10 hours video playback time). It also now has high speed LTE, and greater network support. The display has an integrated touch layer (with anti-glare measures) and meets sRGB colour specification. With it being taller, widescreen videos will be more pleasant to watch, too. Those who have used the 4S will note a smaller sim card slot, as the phone uses the nano sim instead of the micro sim card (UK carriers, including Three and Vodafone, are already stocking up on these tiny, tiny cards). The 8-megapixel camera with LED flash is now updated (maybe not enough for camera enthusiasts) with faster photo capture and better low-light quality. And finally, their old ear buds are at long last updated to a new form and fit (I sometimes feel that only a monkey would have found their old ones comfortable in any way), a change that has been long overdue in my opinion.
Unfortunately, the iPhone 5 will not have the alleged laser keyboard and holographic images. Oh well.
Engadget managed to get their patty-paws on one, so if you’d like a more detailed description or more pictures just follow this link.
Pre-orders for the iPhone 5 began on September 14th (out-doing even the 4S with a whopping 2 million pre-orders within the first 24 hours – that’s twice the number 4S achieved!), and the announced release date for this latest Apple gem is September 21st. I shudder to think of the line-ups on launch day. Maybe getting one a little bit later wouldn’t be so bad, after all.