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iPhone 5: thinner, longer, ready for LTE

Battery life, display, cameras all improved in Apple iPhone 5

By , Network World
September 12, 2012 04:59 PM ET
iPhone 5

Network World - The Apple iPhone 5 unveiled Wednesday is the company's first LTE model, a smartphone that's longer and thinner than previous versions though it remains a pocket-able and one-handed device.

The iPhone 5 doesn't pretend to make any technology breakthroughs: Apart from being taller, at first glance it seems to preserve many of the exterior design elements of the iPhone 4S. Instead, Apple has continued to refine and improve a range of features that are intended to preserve the superior "user experience" that has made the iPhone the leading smartphone brand.

SIDE BY SIDE: How iPhone 5 stacks up vs. the latest Android, Windows Phone 8 smartphones

WAYBACK: A look back at the first iPhone debut day

The phone was unveiled in San Francisco, kicked off by Apple CEO Tim Cook at exactly 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The event also included announcements of a redesigned iTunes interface and a new crop of iPods, including a new iPod touch. The entire presentation was crisp, brisk and focused.

 
Bullet iPhone 5: thinner, longer, ready for LTE
Bullet iPhone 5: How does it stack up?
Bullet A look back at the first iPhone debut day

The new iPhone is 0.30 inches thick, 2.31 inches wide, and 4.87 inches tall, weighing 3.95 ounces. That compares to the 4S: 0.37 inches wide, 4.5 inches tall, 2.31 inches wide, weighing 4.9 ounces. Apple says the new phone is 12% smaller "volumetrically."

Missing were a range of rumored or hoped-for items, including near-field communications (NFC, a wireless technology usually touted for mobile transactions and digital wallets), a quad-core processor, support for USB 3.0 in the redesigned, smaller dock connector, removable storage, and an even larger screen.

The screen is now 4 inches diagonally, versus 3.5 inches for all previous models. The resolution is 640-by-1136 pixels, versus 640-by-960 for the 4S, but it shares with the latter the same pixel density of Apple's Retina display technology: 326 pixels per inch.

The taller screen's most visible result is to allow an extra row of icons on the home screen. But in demonstrations onstage, apps reworked to fully exploit the larger screen seemed much "larger" by virtue of being able to show more content, in either portrait or landscape mode. Every app "shows more data," said Apple's Phil Schiller, senior vice president of marketing, speaking to a packed hall of reporters and bloggers.

Yet every effort was made to ensure the phone was "designed for the hand," Schiller said. By that, he meant "designed for one hand." "It should fit in your hand and be easy to send messages, type emails and surf the Web," he said.

The thinner design is made possible by use of what's called in-cell technology, which in a sense embeds touch sensors into the display, eliminating what had been an extra layer in the sandwich-like mobile display screens. That one change cut 30% from the unit's thickness. [Androidguys.com says it's found three Android phones that are thinner than Apple's newest.] 

But in-cell technology also improves the screen's quality: images are sharper, there's less glare in full sunlight, and it has 44% more color saturation, creating what Schiller said is the "most accurate [color] display in the industry."

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