It’s probably not news to anyone keeping up with the tech community that the iPhone 5 was launched yesterday. At around 1PM San Francisco time, Apple held their usual “top-secret” press conference to make a big announcement. And of course, it was no surprise when they unveiled the new iPhone 5, because the phone looks quite similar with the leaks we’ve seen few months ago.
Obviously, there was plenty of speculation on what the new phone would be capable of, but have those rumors lived up to the hype? Let’s take a look and see what’s new.
What’s New? A Summary
- The iPhone 5 is slimmer and taller than the iPhone 4.
- The screen has made a half inch jump in size.
- iOS 6 and faster processor.
- LTE Wireless support.
- Nano-SIM cards, not MicroSIM cards.
- New Apple EarPods
- A new charging plug style.
Form: The most apparent change to the iPhone is that the iPhone 5 is now shaped much differently from the previous iPhones. It gained a bit more screen real estate by growing in length, not width. The iPhone 5 is 4.87 inches tall and 2.31 inches wide. This is about a quarter inch longer than the previous iPhone models. There’s also a pretty significant difference in thickness. While maintaining the same ergonomic form of the previous phones, the iPhone 5 has shaved about 20% off of its waist.
Screen: The new iPhone 5 screen is a full 4 inches in diagonal size. This is a half inch wider than the previous iPhone 4 or 4S. The screen is powered by Apple’s newest Retina Display technology, which allows for the packing of more pixels per square inch delivering a crisper, shinier display. But since the Retina Display has been around since the iPhone 4, not a whole lot is different in that department.
Features: Inside the new iPhone there’s the new A6 processor, which double the processing power, more RAM memory and a dual-band Wi-Fi chip. iOS 6 brings new Siri enhancements, a new Maps app, Facebook and Twitter integration and also a redesigned iTunes store.
Coverage: This is where some of the real changes are being implemented in the iPhone line. In addition to all of the standard 3G coverage that iPhones have had for a little while now, the iPhone 5 now supports LTE data, which amounts to better 4G coverage in more places around the planet. The iPhone 5 is a world phone and supports GSM and other worldwide mobile networks, making transitioning between world networks that much easier.
SIM: This is a minor update that has been glossed over a little bit by other coverage, but it’s worth mentioning. For those who were used to using Micro-SIM cards previously, there has been a shift to Nano-SIM cards, meaning you’ll have to purchase a new SIM card for your phone instead of being able to simply transfer an existing one over. It’s a bit of a minor inconvenience, but Nano-SIMs are much faster and reliable than their predecessors.
Facetime: The FaceTime camera has gotten a pretty big upgrade on the iPhone 5. Instead of taking VGA quality photographs like the iPhone 4 did, the iPhone 5 can now take up to 1.2MP photographs, as well as record 720P high definition video, which was not previously possible.
Camera: The camera has stayed relatively the same in the upgrade. It’s still an 8MP camera that takes great photographs and they’ve revamped the lens on the camera so that it’s thinner and more durable, leading to a slightly crisper photograph in the end result. One noticeable change they’ve made is the ability to now take panorama photographs within the Camera app without capturing 20 images and piecing them together within the phone. Now, you simply pan the phone and record what looks like video of a panoramic scene and the iPhone 5 will automatically create a photograph from the “video” stills.
Video Recording: Nothing really new to see here other than face recognition software in the camera that makes auto-focusing a bit nicer all around.
Charger: Apple just changed the look and feel of their charging cables, which means that your old ones are now obsolete. It’s called a “Lightning” connector and charges your phone the same way you’re probably familiar with charging the Macbook Pro. It “snaps” into place within the bottom of the phone and isn’t a pin based connector, meaning it’s much easier to put in and take out. It’s also reversible, so there’s no “right” way to insert the charger.
Maps: The last notable change to the iPhone is the removal of Google maps. There’s now an Apple based map system that works exactly like you’d expect it to, but without the big G watching over your shoulder wherever you are in the city. This move towards a Google-less phone was made so that Apple could become less dependent on their biggest rival in the industry. We’ll see how it goes.
OK, so that’s a run-down of everything you can expect to find in an iPhone 5, but the question still remains; is it worth it? Sure, the iPhone 5 is only going to cost you another $399(64 Gb version) to stay on top of the technology game while competitors dual it out to try and catch up, but there’s not really anything in this release that makes it worthy of being a new iPhone.
The bigger screen is fantastic, as is the ability to connect to faster and better networks as you travel around the globe, but considering other phones on the market already have that functionality…why bother? Apple feels like they’re playing catch-up with themselves, integrating functions that their competitors have had for a while already or functions that third party apps have been working on since the iPhone 4 release (namely the panorama photo function).
The rumors nailed all of the features pretty well and there weren’t any surprises at the iPhone 5 press conference. Sure, if this was 1998 and Apple announced a new phone that had things like Nano-SIM technology and a better FaceTime camera, this would have been the release of the century, but considering the fact that developers and competitors have been working with these “new” technologies for at least a year already while Apple caught up, the iPhone 5 feels like a desperate attempt to simply release a new product for the sake of it, without any actual substance behind it. If you have a few hundred dollars lying around, sure it’s an awesome new gadget that will wow your friends, but in the long run, the iPhone 5 won’t go down in history as the groundbreaking technology that other iPhone models have been(eg iPhone 4).
It’s time for Apple to stop using their own laurels to try and woo customers with snazzy minimalist commercials and British accents and step up their game to make Steve Jobs proud.
Related Links: Apple iPhone 5