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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Apple unveils thinner, taller, faster iPhone 5




Apple's announcement of the upcoming iPhone 5 was, well, anticlimactic. A majority of rumors and speculations that popped up like mushrooms turned out to be true, so the presentation seemed to lack the "Wow" factor. 

That said, the iPhone 5 surely is the best in the iPhone lineup so far. 
Appearance and display: The 5 has a glass and aluminum exterior and is .30 inches thick, 18 percent thinner than the iPhone 4S. It's about as thin as the aluminum sides of the iPhone 4/4S. So far, this is the thinnest smartphone on the market. At 3.95 ounces, the 5 is 20 percent lighter than the 4S. Its shape is familiar, much like the 4 and 4S, with flat edges, flat back, and the same width, but it will be taller (4.87 inches), enough to have a fifth row of icons on the home screen. The 4-inch Retina display as a 16:9 aspect ratio, 1136x640 pixels, with 44 percent more color saturation, and touch sensors built into the display.
Network and speed: Biggest news here probably is the 4G LTE capability, first for iPhones. This combined with the A6 chip -- which Apple says is two times faster than the A5 in the 4S --  would surely make this a strong contender is the increasingly competitive smartphone market.
Camera: Like with the 4S, the iSight camera is 8 megapixels, with auto focus, tap to focus, LED flash, backside illumination sensor, face detection, hybrid IR filter and f 2.4 aperture. But the photo capture is faster, a "smart filter" reduces spatial noise, and there's the dynamic low-light mode where the camera can improve an image by 2 f-stops. The new Panorama mode lets you stitch together a series of images for a panoramic image of 28 megapixels. The camera is also capable of 1080 pixel video, and you can take photos while you're shooting a video. The front Facetime camera gets an upgrade to 1.2-megapixel HD (720p) with backside illumination sensor. 
OS: The 5 will come with iOS 6. Major change here is the new Maps app, which replaces the Google Maps. The app is capable of turn-by-turn navigation, traffic information, 3D mapping, portrait or landscape orientation, and the "flyover," an aerial view of certain cities. The 5 is better connected to Facebook, where you can share photos directly to Facebook from Camera or Photos. Photo streams can be shared with only the people you choose. Siri is back and is now capable of talking sports stats, movies or restaurants. It can make a reservation through Open Table, or post a status on Facebook for you. Passbook can be your virtual wallet with tickets, loyalty cards, boarding passes, etc. Disappointingly, there's not Near Field Communications (NFC) technology incorporated in the 5.  
Phone: The 5 comes with 3 mikes (front, bottom and back). The earpiece has noise cancellation technology with "wideband audio," which helps to make voices sound more natural. 
Connection: The 30-pin connector is history, and in comes Lightning, an all-digital 8-signal design, which is 80 percent smaller. You can plug it in either direction. But what about all the docks and accessories you already have for the 30-pin iPhone? Apple has a 30-to-Lightning adapter (sold separately) so you can still use the peripherals you have. 
Earphones: Out with the old, painful earbuds. In with the newly designed EarPods which is better designed to fit the ear. It comes with a mic, a larger remote, and a storage case, and is included with the phone. It plugs in to the earphone jack, which is now at the bottom of the phone.   
Battery life: A slight improvement. Talk time -- Up to 8 hours; browsing -- up to 8 hours on LTE and 3G, up to 10 hours on Wi-Fi. Standby -- up to 225 hours.  
Note: The iPhone 5 uses a nano-SIM, and is not compatible with the micro-SIMs of previous iPhone models.
Prices: $199 for 16 GB, $299 for 32GB, $399 for 64GB, same pricepoints as the existing lineup. But price for the 16GB iPhone 4S is reduced to $99, and the 8GB iPhone 4 is free. All of these with a two-year contract with the carrier. 
Colors: Black with a slate aluminum back, or white with silver aluminum back. 
Preorders at the online  Apple Store starts this Friday, Sept. 14. Or if you'd rather pick one up in person, you can stand in line at the Apple Store when it becomes available at 8 a.m. Sept. 21.
(Photo: Apple)

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 7:17pm]


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