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A Closer Look at the iPhone 5

John Cox September 18, 2012
Apple iPhone 5 is longer and thinner, more powerful, and boasts LTE.
  • By the time Apple got around to announcing the iPhone 5 this week, many of the features such as the smartphone's bigger screen and LTE support had been leaked. But Apple did manage to keep a few goodies secret until its announcement. Here's a closer look.

  • This is the first feature that strikes you: the longer body. But Apple keeps the iPhone 5 both a pocketable and (for most) a one-handed device: 0.30 inches thick, 2.31 inches wide and 4.87 inches tall, weighing 3.95 ounces. The phone is in two colors: black with slate back, and white with silver back.

  • Apple embraces windows Not those Windows. Instead, the flat aluminum metal back has black glass windows at top and bottom for unimpeded wireless transmissions.

  • A new angle on the edge One obvious style change is the chamfered edge of the metal sideband, creating a chiseled look that doesn't seem sharp or "edgey."

  • For the first time, iPhone offers a larger screen: a 4-inch diagonal display, with 640-by-1136-pixel resolution, preserving the 326-pixels-per-inch density of Apple's crisp Retina display. The new display is also thinner, thanks to a new technology that smushes the touch sensors into the display itself.

  • One obvious difference with the taller display: The home screen adds a fifth row of app icons. Existing apps run fine: The phone automatically centers them, adding black bars around them as needed.

  • With the taller screen, and 18% more pixels, there's simply "more app" on display, for maps, Web browsing or playing games.

  • iPhone 5 replaces the wide 32-pin dock connector that's always graced the bottom of the iPhone with a much smaller 8-pin connector, dubbed Lightning. It creates more room along the bottom edge, and inside. And don't worry about being able to use your existing peripherals ...

  • Apple has an adapter to bridge the gap between iPhone 5's Lightning dock and the 32-pin peripherals you treasure.

  • Apple stayed with its dual-core architecture, crafting the new A6 CPU in a smaller silicon process: 32-nanometers instead of 45. The result: a chip that's 22% smaller and more power efficient, while doubling both app performance and graphics performance.

  • As expected, the new iPhone for the first time supports LTE cellular connectivity. Apple waited for a single-chip, single-radio implementation (expected to be from Qualcomm, its traditional cellular supplier), to minimize components and costs, and optimize battery efficiency.

  • Despite the more powerful CPU, LTE and bigger screen, iPhone 5 actually improves battery life compared to the 4S model, according to Apple. 3G talktime is the same for iPhone 5 and 4S at 8 hours; standby time for the new phone is 225 hours, versus 200 for 4S.

  • The new iPhone retains the 8-megapixel iSight camera and its f/2.4 aperture. But it offers better low-light performance, 40% faster photo capture, more precise lens alignment and a highly durable sapphire lens cover. Overall, the unit is 25% smaller.

  • Thanks to other changes in the new CPU, photo and video processing is faster. The A6 has a new image signal processor (ISP) built-in, with a feature called spatial noise reduction and a special filter that essentially guides the ISP.

  • iOS 6 will run on the new iPhone. It was unveiled, with over 200 changes and improvements, in June at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference. Some high points: integrated Facebook (shown at right); Passbook (middle); shared photo streams (left); Apple's maps app, with 3D turn-by-turn navigation.

  • For the new iPhone, Apple has tweaked Siri, giving it background in sports and movies, and the ability to book restaurant reservations for you. Tell it to "Find a sushi restaurant for 4 around 8 p.m." Tap to make a reservation it presents, and the phone takes you to Open Table.

  • One seemingly slight change: iPhone 5 is the first iPhone to let you use the 5GHz band to connect to a Wi-Fi network. That's a much less crowded frequency than 2.4GHz and more channels from which to choose. Apple says the phone's 802.11n Wi-Fi data is 150Mbps for the single-stream 11n chip.

  • iPhone 5 models will have the same price as their iPhone 4S cousins last year: $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for 64GB. Notably, Apple has greatly accelerated its iPhone rollouts in overseas markets: That should lead to a huge surge in sales for the final quarter of 2012.

Source: Network World (US)