Apple Officially Reveals The iPhone 5: LTE, 4-Inch Retina Display, New A6 Chip, Lighter Than iPhone 4S

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And just like that, months and months of breathless speculation have finally come to an end. Apple’s Phil Schiller has just officially announced the new iPhone 5 at the company’s massive press event here in San Francisco, less than a year since its predecessor was unveiled.

Some of the news won’t come as much of a shock considering the sheer volume of rumors and leaks lately (even Apple let some details slip earlier today) — I’m going to resist the temptation to pontificate on every new feature as it’s revealed (for now, anyway), so let’s get right down to it.

The iPhone 5

  • We can finally put the debate to rest — Apple’s newest mobile juggernaut is called the iPhone 5 (despite actually being the sixth iPhone to hit the market). It’s 20% lighter than the iPhone 4S, 18% thinner, and crafted out of (what else?) glass and aluminum.
  • Pre-orders for the iPhone 5 will begin on Friday, September 14, and the device will ship to lucky consumers starting on September 21. As usual, the device will be available in 16, 32, and 64GB models, which will cost $199, $299, and $399 respectively with a two-year contract from AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint.
  • The long-rumored (and handsome) two-toned design is indeed legitimate, as is the new iPhone’s larger 4-inch Retina Display. And yes, that 16:9 display runs at 1136 x 640 with five rows of icons. According to Schiller, it’s “the most accurate display in the industry” because the touch sensors are embedded in the display as well.
  • As expected, Apple has also unveiled a brand new chipset for the iPhone 5: the A6, which Schiller says is a full two times faster than the A5 chip in the iPhone 4S
  • The iPhone 4S’s battery life wasn’t anything to write home about, but the iPhone 5 seems equipped to do much better — 8 hours of 3G talk time, as well as 8 hours of 3G and LTE web browsing to be precise.
  • The iPhone’s audio system has been bolstered with a smaller (but improved speaker). There are also now three microphones in the mix: one on the front, one on the back, and another on the bottom.
  • That oft-rumored miniature Dock Connector is real: it’s all-digital, has eight pins and it’s called “Lightning.” Yes, there’s an adapter for it, but no word yet on exactly what it will cost you.

Connectivity

  • It’s hardly a surprise at this point, but the iPhone 5 packs support for Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T’s LTE networks here in the States. What’s really impressive is that combined that LTE support with 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi onto a single “ultra fast” chip.
  • Despite what a handful of leaks pointed to in the weeks leading up to the event, there’s been no mention of an integrated NFC chip yet.

Camera

  • Smartphone cameras are really starting to give their point-and-shoot brethren a run for their money (think Nokia’s PureView and HTC’s ImageSense tech), but instead of running up the megapixel count, Apple has stuck with an 8-megapixel camera. That said, the backside-illuminated sensor is smaller, and features much better low-light performance (finally!).
  • App developers may be bummed to know that the camera now also has a built-in panorama mode. The revamped camera also supports 1080p video capture, and users can now snap photos while recording video at the same time. I wonder how HTC feels about that.

Full Coverage - 2012 Apple Event