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iPhone 5 – Was the wait worth it? Featured

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In one of the most anticipated announcements of recent times, Apple Inc today announced the iPhone 5. There are no real surprises with the new slimmer, taller 4G capable  iPhone model but the real story is yet to play out.

It’s now official. The rumours have all been confirmed or disproven. Apple has announced its iPhone 5, the latest in a series of devices that have revolutionised mobile phone industry since the first iPhone in 2007.

On the surface of it, the iPhone 5 is much as we expected it to be - 1800 Mhz LTE capable, bigger screen, faster processor and so on. But the real story is not the iPhone 5 itself – it is how it will play out against much stiffer competition from the new range of Android phones and from Microsoft’s resurgent – if late – Windows Phone 8.

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the new iPhone at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in downtown San Francisco, scene of many past Apple releases. It was classic Apple stuff, Cooks and Apple senior managers strutting the stage showing off the iPhone’s many features. So what does the iPhone 5 have that the 4 and 4S did not? It’s significantly taller and lighter and skinnier but it also uses a smaller “nano-Sim” and introduces a smaller charging connector– that’s right, all new cables and docking stations.

In keeping the device small Apple is not chasing the big screen functionality of its Android and Windows rivals. That means the screen is lower resolution than those of its competitors. The company has obviously made the decision to trade on its elegance and design. Fair enough, that’s been successful in the past.

The new iPhone is very important to Apple. It is the first post-Steve Jobs iPhone, and it has become the company’s cash cow. Apple gets a bit under half its revenues from the iPhone, but more than two thirds of its profits, according to financial analysts Sanford C. Bernstein.

The iPhone brings a new version of iOS and a new, smaller and faster Apple chip, the A6. Many features are enhanced or changed in some way. The taller (but not wider) screen fits and extra row of apps, and significantly higher colour saturation.

As expected Google Maps has been dropped and replaced with Apple’s own product, which gives voice directions, at least in the USA. Facebook is integrated. Siri is improved. The camera allows panorama shots, seamlessly linking multiple adjacent photos. The improved camera takes 1080p video. It will start to ship in the USA by the end of the month, and Australia will get iit almost immediately – it’s already on the local Apple website.

Citius, altius, fortious. Faster, higher, stronger. The iPhone 5 is very Apple, and is pretty well what we have come to expect from the company. People will complain about the new docking connector, but that’s one of the prices of the smaller design. By not playing follow the leader with screen size, Apple has maintained, or even increased, its product differentiation, which is very important in an increasingly crowded market.

Apple vs Samsung vs Nokia – Feature Comparison

The new iPhone’s closest rivals are the Samsung Galaxy S III 4G and the Nokia Lumia 920, bith announced a week earlier. The three devices are the leading representatives of the three major smartphone operating systems. Price is not included – most people buy them on telco plans.

Apple iPhone5

Samsung Galaxy S III 4G

Nokia Lumia 920

Operating System

Apple iOS 6

Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)

Microsoft Windows Phone 8

Processor

Apple A6

ARM Exynos 4412
quad-core1.4 Ghz

Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core 1.5Ghz

3G talk time

8 hours

11.6 hours

10 hours

Dimensions (H x W x D)

124 x 59 x 8 mm

137 x 71 x 9 mm

130 x 71 x 11 mm

Weight

112g

133g

185g

Screen size

4.0 inch

4.8 inch

4.5 inch

Screen resolution

1136 x 640

1280 x 720

1280 x 768

Camera

8.0 Megapixel

8.0 Megapixel

8.7 Megapixel

Storage

16/32/64 GB

16/32 GB

32 GB

Charging Connector

Smaller “Lightning” dock connector

Micro USB

Micro USB, Wireless charging

SIM

Nano-SIM

MicroSIM

MicroSIM

Connections

3.5mm audio
Bluetooth,

Micro USB 2.0
3.5mm audio
Bluetooth, NFC

Micro USB 2.0
3.5mm audio
Bluetooth, NFC

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire and editor of sister publication CommsWire. He is also founder and Research Director of Connection Research, a market research and analysis firm specialising in the convergence of sustainable, digital and environmental technologies. He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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