Apple Answers the Bell With the iPhone 5

Not so long ago Apple was the unquestioned king of the smartphone market, a market many could argue they created with the first iPhone. In recent years competitors have launched a major challenge backed by Google’s Android OS platform. While no single phone maker can claim supremacy over Apple’s iPhone, Android OS has overtaken iOS in the market. On 12 September Apple fired back with the announcement of iPhone 5.

The quiet rumblings over the past few years for a better iPhone have become a louder beating drum that Apple needed to answer. Apple devotees watched as competitors rolled out phones with bigger screens, better cameras, and sleeker looks while the iPhone received minor cosmetic upgrades and a few software improvements. With the iPhone 5, Apple has shown a serious intention to re-establish the iPhone as the unquestioned champion in the smartphone market.

Let’s start with the hardware changes and physical differences between the iPhone 5 and its predecessors. This is the area where Apple answered most of its critics by making the first true physical change. Here’s a rundown of the new physical features:

–       BIGGER Screen: iPhone fans spoke and Apple listened by giving the iPhone 5 a new 4-inch screen. The iPhone 5 is the same width as previous versions but is slightly taller. The biggest plus is the home screen now accommodates a fifth row of apps.

–       Thinner, Lighter: The iPhone 5 is not only slightly taller than predecessors, it is thinner and lighter. Constructed entirely of aluminum and glass, something Apple touts no other phone offers, the iPhone 5 is 18% thinner than the 4S and one-fifth lighter as well.

–       FINALLY, 4G: The iPhone 5 will be the first iPhone capable of tapping into 4G LTE speeds. In the U.S, the iPhone 5 will work with AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint 4G systems for greater speed on the go. The device will also ship to Canada and Europe, with only carriers in the U.K. known at this point. Those carriers include EE, Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone, O2, Three, and Virgin Mobile.

In addition to these big changes for the iPhone 5, Apple has outfitted the device with a new processor and an improved iSight camera. The iPhone 5 has a fast A6 processor that will help users launch apps, music, and photos faster than previous models. As for the iSight improvements, users will find their iPhone 5 captures pictures 40% faster than previous models and performs better in low light scenarios.

As expected, the iPhone 5 will run on Apple’s latest iOS 6. There are almost too many improvements with iOS 6 to cover quickly, but let’s not skip the best ones. The iPhone 5 will no longer come preloaded with Google Maps, instead using a new Apple Maps app powered with turn-by-turn voice navigation thanks to iOS 6. Other improvements came in Notification Center, Safari, and Mail, but perhaps the neatest piece of new software is Passbook.

Passbook will serve as a repository for all manner of documents such as boarding passes, coupons, and payment methods. The goal of Passbook is to render your wallet unnecessary by allowing users to store payment methods on their device as well. Get ready to interact a little more with Siri as well as Apple improvements now make it possible to ask your favorite virtual assistant for sports scores, movie recommendations, and help launching apps.

As impressive as the new iPhone 5 appears, there is one glaring omission in the new device that many had been hoping Apple would change. While nearly every other smartphone device on the market uses the same connection point regardless of manufacturer, Apple resisted this change and stuck with the 30-pin connection. The 30-pin connector on the iPhone 5 is 80% smaller than that for previous models and Apple is working with Bose, JBL, and other supporting device manufacturers to ensure a smooth transition. Apple has promised an adapter for devices using the old connectors, but it remains unknown if users will have to purchase the adapter or if it will be included at no extra charge with the iPhone 5.

If Apple’s history in launching new devices is any indication, the iPhone 5 is likely to be a smashing hit. The fact that it includes some of the most significant changes made to the device since its first launch years ago might just help propel the iPhone back to the top of the mountain. Available in black or white, the devices will ship in the U.S. on 21 September and preorders can start this Friday, 14 September.

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