We briefly told you about the new features and improvements of Apple’s new iPhone that were announced at the event. But the devil is in the details, so we take an in-depth look at iPhone 5’s new features and improvements.
Taller 4-Inch Display:
iPhone 5 features a 4-inch display (diagonal) – half an inch bigger than previous iPhone models. It is the first time Apple has increased the size of the screen since the original iPhone was launched in 2007. The 4-inch display is taller, but has the same width as iPhone 4S, so you will still be able to type with one hand; something Apple thought heavily about when designing the device. Apple believes that anything bigger would feel oversized, awkward, and hard to use.
The display comes with the same stunning Retina pixel density of 326 dots per inch (dpi) as iPhone 4S. The taller 4-inch display increases the resolution of the screen to 1136X640 (from 960×640). It creates enough space for a 5th row of icons (excluding the Dock) on the Home screen. It also means that you can see more of a webpage, more events in your Calendar etc.
iPhone 5 features a 16:9 aspect ratio compared to iPhone 4S’ 4:3 aspect ratio. This is great for watching videos as you will be able to play movies in full widescreen format without any black bars at the top and bottom.
Apple has also used in-cell display technology in iPhone 5. The technology integrates touch sensors into the LCD, which eliminates the need of a separate touch screen layer. The absence of a separate touch screen layer not only helps to make the screen thinner, but it also improves the quality of displayed images. Colors get a boost, too, with color saturation that’s 44 percent greater than before.
What’s amazing, though, is that despite the increase in height, the iPhone 5’s physical volume has actually decreased by more than 12 percent. The iPhone 4S, with dimensions of 115.2mm x 58.6mm x 9.3mm, has a volume of 62.8 cubic cms, while the iPhone 5, with dimensions of 123.8mm x 58.6mm x 7.6mm, has a volume of 55.14 cubic cms.
Thinner and Lighter:
iPhone 5 is just 7.6 millimeters thin, which makes it 18% thinner than iPhone 4S. It is also 20% lighter than iPhone 4S at 112 grams.
iPhone 5 looks similar to the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4, but the back is made of anodized aluminum with inlays along the top and bottom made of ceramic glass (on the white and silver model) or pigmented glass (on the black and slate model), which gives it a cool two-tone effect.
iPhone 5 is powered by Apple’s next generation A6 system-on-chip, which Apple says is twice as fast as A5 chip that powers iPhone 4S. The A6 chip also offers graphics performance that’s up to twice as fast as the A5 chip.
Apple’s A6 chip is 22% smaller than the A5 chip. We will get more details about the A6 chip when iPhone 5 is disassembled next week, but AnandTech speculates that there is a good chance it is built on Samsung’s 32nm LP HK+MG process. The 32-nm chip technology make chips more efficient, which in turn is supposed to improve battery life as we’ve seen with the tweaked $399 iPad 2.
The fact that Apple hasn’t mentioned the cores seems to suggest that iPhone 5 is powered by a dual-core processor and not the rumored quad-core processor. But as AnandTech points out Apple reserves major Ax SoC number iterations for architecture changes, so it indicates that Apple has used ARM Cortex A15 processor cores as it is the next major jump for ARM architecture. Apple used Cortex-A8 processor cores in the A4 chip that powers iPhone 4 and Cortex-A9 processor cores in A5 chip that powers iPhone 4S. According to ARM, the Cortex-A15 MPCore processor is “is the highest-performance licensable processor the industry has ever seen.”
We’ll update this section when we get more details.
iPhone 5 finally supports 4G LTE networks. Apple puts the download speeds at 100 Mbps – more than twice as fast as the 42 Mbps Apple says you can get from a 3G connection. But even though iPhone 5 may be capable of supporting those download speeds, you are unlikely to get those speeds in real world usage as a lot depends on proximity of towers, the strength of the network and assuming you have LTE network in your area.
Verizon and AT&T both say their LTE networks will deliver about 5 to 12 Mbps download speeds and 2 to 5 Mbps upload speeds. That’s two to four times higher than the rates AT&T expects even with its faster HSPA+ 3G deployments, and two to six times faster than Verizon’s current 3G network.
Unlike the new iPad, iPhone 5 will support 4G LTE networks outside U.S. and Canada. To support 4G LTE bands in various countries across the world, Apple as been forced to manufacture three separate models of the iPhone 5 – two GSM models and a CDMA model.
Here’s a look at the frequency and the LTE bands that iPhone 5 will support:
- GSM model A1428: UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE (Bands 4 and 17)
- CDMA model A1429: CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1900, 2100 MHz); UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE (Bands 1, 3, 5, 13, 25)
- GSM model A1429: UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); LTE (Bands 1, 3, 5)
Apple has announced that iPhone 5 will support the LTE networks in the 9 launch countries:
Apple also added support for HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA which means that iPhone 5 will be able to connect to networks that are faster than 3G when 4G LTE is not available.
iPhone 5 also offers dual-band 802.11n wireless connectivity, which should improve the Wi-Fi experience. iPhone 5 is the first iOS device to support Wi-Fi connections on 5GHz band, besides 2.4GHz. Apple says that iPhone 5 will deliver a maximum 150Mbps data rate.
iPhone 5 offers the following battery life.
- Talk time: Up to 8 hours on 3G
- Standby time: Up to 225 hours
- Internet use: Up to 8 hours on 3G, up to 8 hours on LTE, up to 10 hours on Wi-Fi
- Video playback: Up to 10 hours
- Audio playback: Up to 40 hours
iPhone 5 offers up to 225 hours of standby time compared to iPhone 4S’ 200 hours of standby time. iPhone 5 offers up to 8 hours while browsing the internet over 3G, compared to iPhone 4S’ 6 hours. iPhone 5 offers up to 10 hours of battery life while browsing the internet on a Wi-Fi network, compared to iPhone 4S’ 9 hours.
It is commendable that Apple has managed to improve iPhone 5’s battery life even though it comes with a bigger screen, faster A6 chip and power hungry 4G LTE radios.
iPhone 5’s back-facing camera has the same 8-megapixel, five-element lens with 2.4 aperture, which is similar to the iPhone 4S, but is 25% smaller. The camera also has the same 3,264 by 2,448 backside-illuminated sensor. The lens is protected by sapphire crystal, which Apple says is a lot more durable and clear. It comes with a new dynamic ‘low-light’ mode, which Dpreview explains “evaluates nearby pixels to give photographers up to two f-stops great performance in low light”.
Apple has also improved iPhone 5’s video recording capabilities. While the back-facing iSight camera allows you to record 1080p videos like iPhone 4S, the front-facing camera has been upgraded to allow you to record HD video (720p) up to 30 frames per second. It also means you can make FaceTime HD video calls. It comes with improved image stabalization to prevent shaky videos and the Face Detection feature (available while taking photos) is also available while you’re recording. You will now be able to take still photos while you’re recording videos.
It also comes with three microphones — one on the front, one on the back and one at the bottom of the device. The new microphones with improved noise cancellation and wideband audio should further enhance video recording capabilities. It also means clearer-sounding FaceTime calls.
The Camera app also comes with improvements including 40% faster photo capture, low-light performance as we explained earlier, and improved noise reduction.
One of the major new features is the new Panorama mode, which allows you to take multiple photos, which are then stitched together to create a panoramic photo of up to 28 megapixels. While there have been many apps that offer this feature, we love Apple’s implementation of the feature.
To find out what this means to picture quality of the photos taken using iPhone 5’s camera, check out this post.
iPhone 5 comes with an all-new dock connector dubbed Lightning, which replaced the 30-pin dock connector that was first launched in 2003.
The obvious change is the size – the new Lightning dock connector is 80% smaller than the 30-pin dock connector. Phil schiller – Apple’s Vice President of Worldwide marketing said that it simply wasn’t possible to build products as thin as the new iPhones and iPods without changing the dock connector.
It features an all-digital, eight-signal design. AnandTech explains what that means: “The basic conceit of this new connector is that at any point in time, not all the pins of the 30-pin connector were active. So, if a particular use case involved the charging pins and some audio pins, or the charging pins and USB pins, why not design a system that provides just enough pins for any given use case. The iPhone senses what pins are being requested and some on-device signaling sends the necessary bits over the available pins.”
The Lightning connector is reversible, so it means that there’s no wrong way to plug in the cable, which is probably the biggest benefit from a consumer point of view. Apple claims that it is also more durable.
Apple has launched two adapters for the new Lightning connector to allow users to connect iPhone 5 to the older 30-pin accessories such as speakers, car chargers etc. and plans to launch Lightning to HDMI and Lightning to VGA adapters in the coming months. Check out this post for the details.
iPhone 5 supports wideband audio, which is commonly known by carriers as HD voice. It extends the frequency range of audio signals transmitted, resulting in crisper word clarity and more natural sounding speech.
The feature will be supported by 20 carriers worldwide at launch, but U.S. Carriers are unlikely to support the feature.
iPhone 5 also comes with improved speaker design. It comes with three microphones: one on the front, one on the back, and one on the bottom. The front and back mics work together to achieve beamforming – a technique which Apple claims helps iPhone focus on sound from the desired location for clearer audio. iPhone 5 also comes with new noise-canceling technology, which reduces background noise.
iPhone 5 will come pre-installed with iOS 6 – Apple’s next generation mobile operating system, which comes with over 200 new features including an all-new Maps app, new Passbook app, major improvements to Siri, Facebook integration, shared Photo Streams, improved Notification system, improved Mail app, improved Safari app and revamped Music, iTunes and App Store apps.
To achieve a thinner and compact design Apple has adopted the nano-SIM standard in iPhone 5. The nano-SIM design is 40 percent smaller than the micro-SIM design, which Apple continues to use in the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S.
The new nano-SIM card measures just 12.3 x 8.8mm, and its thickness has also been reduced fractionally, from 0.76mm to 0.67mm. We’ve heard that Apple’s carrier partners have already been stocking up on these nano-SIM cards, so you will get one from your carrier.
It remains to be seen if it will be possible to convert the micro-SIM card to the nano-SIM, given the reduction in thickness. We’ll get more clarity on this when the iPhone 5 is available next week.
iPhone 5 comes with a completely redesigned earbud-style headphones dubbed “EarPods.”
Apple’s engineers and designers took 3 years to come up with the design for these EarPods, scanning hundreds of users to look for common elements.
The EarPods, unlike other circluar earphones, are shaped so as to take into account the geometry of the ear, making it fit perfectly into the ear. The speakers in the EarPods point towards the ear canal. There are also an additional set of vents included in the EarPods to enhance midrange frequencies, and provide better and deeper bass.
Apple claims that the overall audio quality of Apple EarPods is so impressive, that they rival high-end headphones that cost hundreds of dollars more. You can find more details about EarPods here.
- Bluetooth 4.0
iPhone 5 is available in black and white. Apple is calling the black model “Black & Slate” and the white one “White & Silver”.
iPhone 5 is available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB storage capacities (same as iPhone 4S).
iPhone 5 is available for $199 for the 16GB model, $299 for the 32GB model, $399 for the 64GB model for a two-year contract.
Unlocked iPhone 5:
iPhone 5 goes on sale in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore on September 21. Apple started taking pre-orders from September 14.
It will be available in 22 more countries on September 28, including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Here’re some of the things that we still don’t know about iPhone 5:
- If the new A6 chip is dual-core or quad-core and what’s the speed of the processor.
Update (September 15):
We’ve just got a confirmation that iPhone 5 has 1GB RAM. So we’ve updated the post with the details and removed it from the list of things we still don’t know about iPhone 5.
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