iPhone 5 Event: Apple Inc. Finally Takes Wraps Off 4G-ready New iPhone

Apple Inc unveils its fastest, thinnest iPhone on Wednesday, packing a significant larger screen and 4G capability on the six version of the smartphone that helped it become the world’s most valuable corporation.

The iPhone 5 will go on sale Friday from $199, sporting a 4-inch “retina” display, ability to surf a high-speed 4G LTE wireless network, and is 20 percent lighter than the previous iPhone 4S. Photo: Apple Inc.

Apple Inc.’s CEO Tim Cook, who took over from the company’s late co-founder Steve Jobs last year, faces pressure to keep Apple at the forefront of the industry. The iPhone 5 introduced on Wednesday sports a 4-inch “retina” display, ability to surf a high-speed 4G LTE wireless network, and is 20 percent lighter than the previous iPhone 4S.

Mr. Cook began Wednesday’s event at the Yerba Buena Center, San Francisco, by saying the company’s notebooks now rank tops in U.S. sales, leading in market share in the past three months. But it’s the iPhone that carries the weight of Apple’s future on its slim frame, especially with the company continuing to play its cards close to the vest about future growth drivers, including an oft-rumored TV device.

The new iPhone has a larger screen than previous versions, at 4 inches, with a resolution of 1136×640 or 326 pixels per inch — which is still a retina display, as Apple defines it. Colors get a boost, too, with color saturation that’s 44 percent greater than before.

The new iPhone’s larger display has a wide screen 16:9 aspect ratio and has lengthened the phone overall, but it also allows for a total of six rows of apps on the screen — five rows on the ‘pages’ along with the permanent single row along the bottom.

The iPhone 5 comes with company’s newest A6 processor, which executives claimed runs twice as fast as the previous generation. The A6 chip also offers graphics performance that’s up to twice as fast as the previous chip A5. So you can power through graphics-intensive apps and games. And enjoy higher frame rates for smoother, more realistic gameplay.

The phone will be compatible with the high-speed LTE networks of AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, in addition to many global LTE networks. “iPhone 5 does LTE the right way — optimized for better battery life and designed for ultrafast connectivity in a thin profile. The very things you want most from your smartphone,” according to the company’s website.

It also includes ultrafast wireless, which incorporates the 5GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi, giving the iPhone 5 more bandwith overall. Apple says “iPhone 5 supports more networks all over the world. That includes advanced networks such as HSPA, HSPA+, and DC-HSDPA. Browse, download, and stream content at ultrafast speeds. Dual-band 802.11n wireless connectivity accelerates your Wi-Fi experience, too — up to 150 Mbps.”

The smartphone, which is said to be made entirely of glass and aluminum, is also thinner overall. It’s just 7.6 mm thin, 18% thinner than the previous iPhone 4S. It also weighs 112 grams, 20% lighter than the 4S. “The only way to achieve a design like this is by relentlessly considering (and reconsidering) every single detail — including the details you don’t see,” says Apple Inc.

It will have three microphones and a better 8-megapixel camera that can take pictures on higher resolutions. The cameras still has an 8MP sensor, but it’s 25% smaller and includes more features. There’s also a built-in panorama mode for capturing massive widescreen photos – from a family reunion group photo to a jaw-dropping shot of the Grand Canyon.

Dynamic low light mode is said to give you better pictures without using the flash, and other enhancements, such as spatial noise reduction and a smart filter, will improve image quality as well. Apple says the upgraded camera will snap pictures 40% faster.

As we already said, the new iPhone is now equipped with three separate microphones — on the front, on the bottom and on the back. Apple says the multiple mics will help Siri’s performance. The earpiece is equipped with more noise cancellation, and there’s also now “wideband audio” technology, which is said to make voice calls more natural.

The company has also shrunk the dock connector of the iPhone, replacing the aging 30-pin connector with a much smaller jack, which it dubs the “Lightning” connector, a riff on the Thunderbolt port that’s a feature of today’s Macs. Although a new connector effectively renders older accessories obsolete, Apple says Bose, JBL and Bang & Oulefson are already working on devices compatible with it.

The iPhone 5 goes on sale September 21st in the U.S., Canada, Japan, the U.K., Germany, France, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore. It has similar pricing to its predecessors, starting at $199 for 16GB of storage with a two-year contract, and there are 32GB and 64GB models available for $299 and $399, respectively.

Pre-orders start Sept. 14. Apple says the phone will be available in 100 countries on 240 wireless carriers by the end of the year. Apple is keeping the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S in its lineup. The iPhone 4 (8GB) is now free with a contract, and the iPhone 4S (16GB) costs $99. The iPhone 3GS appears to be discontinued.

Apple has sold more than 243 million iPhones since its 2007 arrival, after which the device proceeded to upend the industry and helped usher in the current applications ecosystem. Cook told the audience that its iTunes Apps store now has more than 700,000 on tap – the industry’s largest library.

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