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Apple launches iPhone 5

Bigger, faster, best-ever handset looks set to be another winner for Apple

Apple has finally announced its iPhone 5 smartphone after months of rumour and speculation.iPhone 5

As expected, the firm has shown off its next-generation iPhone and, unlike last year's disappointment when Apple announced the iPhone 4S, this time it really is the widely expected iPhone 5.

The design of the iPhone 5 is larger than previous iterations, as indicated by the first case which was announced by Sculpteo before the launch event.

See also: iPhone 5 review.

iPhone 5: screen

The main reason for this is the larger 4in screen which has a 1136 x 640 resolution (that's 326ppi - the same as the iPhone 4S with its 3.5in 960x640 resolution). It's the first time Apple has used a screen size other than 3.5in for the iPhone, and also the first with a 16:9 aspect ratio.

This means there's room for a fifth row of icons on the Home Screen, and allows more information to be shown in apps such as Mail and Calendar. All of Apple's apps are being updated to make better use of the screen real estate including iMove, GarageBand, iPhoto, Keynote, Pages and Numbers.

Some apps will remain unchanged, such as the App Store. This will be shown centred with black borders above and below. Of course, videos also appear larger because of both the bigger diagonal, and the wider aspect ratio which minimises the black bars.

The screen has 44% more colour saturation, and has the touch-sensitive layer integrated into the display itself, removing a layer and making it sharper.

iPhone 5 vs iPhone 4S

iPhone 5: wireless

One detail which was almost a certainty before the launch event is support for 4G in the UK, so you'll get up to 5 times the download speeds of a 3G iPhone 4S. The iPhone 5 will work on EE's 1800MHz 4G mobile network when it becomes available to the public in a few weeks' time. See also: EE 4G in the UK: what you need to know.

Plus, it has new dual-band Wi-Fi, operating on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. This means you could get a stronger signal from hotspots or home routers which also have dual-band capabilities.

iPhone 5: performance and design

The main chip has also been updated, as expected, to the Apple A6 processor. Apple claims it's twice as fast as the A5 (including graphics performance), yet is 22% smaller.

Despite the bigger screen, the new iPhone 5 is 20% lighter than the iPhone 4S at 112g. It measures just 7.6mm thick, and is constructed entirely of aluminium and glass. That's not great news for anyone hoping the iPhone 5 would be more durable.

iPhone 5 landscape

iPhone 5: cameras and audio

The camera has been improved with an 8Mp back-illuminated sensor. To counteract the impact of a thinner lens, there's more precise lens alignment and sapphire crystal glass. The faster processor also means faster photo capture, and better processing for better low-light performance.

The camera can also shoot 1080p video, has improved stabilisation and now supports panoramas, creating up to 28Mp images with supposedly seamless transitions.

iPhone 5 camera

At the front is another updated camera, which now adopts the iSight moniker. It can capture video at 720p.

Audio is improved as well. To make calls (and FaceTime) better, there are three microphones, bottom, front and back, plus a better speaker that's 20% smaller than the 4S's. There's also wideband audio support, so as long as it's supported by the network, you'll get better call quality - something the iPhone has been crying out for.

iPhone 5: Lightning dock connector

Another virtual certainty before the launch, the iPhone 5 has a new smaller dock connector, called Lightning.  Wireless is now used for a lot of what a cable used to be for. It's all digital, and 80% smaller than the old 30-pin connector. Apple will offer adaptors so your old 30-pin accessories can still be used.

The headphone jack has been moved to the bottom, presumably for space reasons.

Lightning dock connector

iPhone 5: pricing and availability

You can pre-order an iPhone 5 on September 14th, and it will cost from £529 from Apple. It will ship on September 21st.

If you don't plan to upgrade, you'll be able to get a free update to iOS 6 for most recent devices on September 19th. That includes the new iPad, iPad 2, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.

Follow Jim Martin and @PCAdvisor on Twitter.


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