SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 12, 2012— -- Behold, the iPhone 5 is here.
Apple Inc. today announced its new iPhone, as well as changes to its iPod line and iTunes software, at a press event in San Francisco.
In short, the "world's thinnest smartphone" is a whole new phone, matching many of the rumors that had been floating around about its introduction for months.
"We have updated every aspect of iPhone 5," said Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing. "The challenge is to make it better and smaller."
The iPhone 5 is lighter and faster -- though also taller -- than any of Apple's previous smartphones. It has a 4-inch screen with an 1136x640 resolution Retina display. It is 7.6 mm thick and weighs in at 112 grams. That's a half-inch bigger, 18 percent thinner, and 20 percent lighter than the iPhone 4S.
Apple said the iPhone 5 has a fifth row of icons on its screen, which features 44 percent more color saturation. A more powerful A6 processor will make the new phone twice as fast as the iPhone 4S. It also has a bumped-up audio system and an upgraded iSight camera. While it remains an 8-megapixel camera, the same as what you find in the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5's camera will have new better low-light capabilities and a panorama mode, Apple said.
The iPhone 5's battery will "exceed battery life of the iPhone 4s," Schieller said, with eight hours' talk time and 225 hours on standby.
Available in slate and black, or silver and white, the iPhone 5 is made out of glass and alumnium. The back of the phone is all metal -- a change from the iPhone 4S, which had a glass back that, users complained, shattered easily. The phone also comes with a new, smaller cable connector, called Lightning, which is designed to work with more iPhone accessory makers. An adapter will be available for users with older Apple hardware.
What will this cost? Apple said the iPhone 5 will sell for $199, $299 and $399 for the 16GB, 22GB and 64GB devices, respectively, with new carrier contracts. The iPhone 4S with 16GB device of memory drops to $99 with a new contract. The iPhone 4 with 8GB is now free on a new contract.
Pre-order sales start on Sept. 14. Apple said the new phones would start to ship on Sept. 21.
The iPhone 5 will have an LTE data connection -- also known as 4G -- and will be available through Verizon, Sprint, AT&T in the United States, as well as other carriers around the world.
The new phone will run Apple's iOS 6, which the company showed off in June at its Worldwide Developers Conference.
"iPhone 5 and iOS 6: the biggest things to happen to iPhone since the iPhone," said Apple CEO Tim Cook.
The iOS 6 has a range of new features, including Apple's own homebrewed maps app (which will replace Google Maps), Facebook integration and a new passbook app, which organizes airplane tickets, coupons and other passes users might have. Siri was also upgraded to launch apps, recommend movies, check on restaurant reservations and update your Facebook status.
The improved graphics will please everyone from the serious gamer to the average app user, said Apple executives. With 700,000 apps currently in the App Store, Apple said all apps have been updated to take advantage of the bigger screen and better graphics.
"The average customer is using more than 100 apps," said Cook.
YouTube is not preloaded with the new software, but Google has released a new iPhone YouTube app one can download.
Demand for the phone announced today was clearly high. Sites like Gazelle and Glyde, which buy older iPhones, have seen a huge surge in traffic over the last few days as people try to unload their phones before they switch to the new one. Some analysts predict the company could sell over 10 million phones in its first month on the market. Apple noted on its last earnings call that it saw a significant drop in iPhone sales in recent months as consumers waited for the new phone.
In addition to the iPhone, Apple also announced upgrades to its iPod Touch, iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle, as well as new headphones, called "EarPods," and a redesigned iTunes store for iOS devices.
The iPod Touch is the "thinnest iPod Touch ever," said Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of iPod, iPhone, and iOS product marketing.
Just 6.1 millimeters thick and only weighing 88 grams, the new Touch comes with a 4-inch Retina display, iOS6, Siri, a 5-megapixel iSight camera with panorama mode, and an A5 processor. Processing will be 7 times faster than the older iPod Touch, according to Joswiak.
The new "mini player," the iPod Nano, with its improved home screen, is 5.4 mm thick with a 2.5-inch display -- the biggest display on a Nano yet -- and has up to 30 hours of music playback.
All three devices come in a rainbow of colors -- a first for the iPod Touch. The iPod Shuffle will now match the colors of the Nanos, but was otherwise unchanged.
The 2GB iPod Shuffle is being sold for $49 and the new iPod Nano with 16GB is $149. The new iPod Touch, 32GB will be sold for $299 and the 64GB will be sold for $399. The older Touch prices drop to $199 for the 16GB and $249 for the 32GB device. They can be ordered starting Sept. 14.
And what good is a new mp3 player without good headphones? Apple took three years to design new headphones, Joswiak said, taking 3D ear scans to find a common size.
EarPods come with new, bigger controls, and are included in the new iPod Touch, new Nano, and the new iPhone 5. They will also be sold as a stand-alone accessory starting today.
The new iTunes store design, with bigger icons to make it more "shopper friendly" and the ability to see playlists side-by-side in the music library, will be on iOS6 devices starting Sept. 19.
Noticeably absent was any mention of the so-called "iPad-Mini," a rumored smaller version of the iPad, but Apple is expected to hold another press event in October.
For a market that didn't exist two years ago, Cook said that Apple sold 17 million iPads just in the last quarter.