Nearly every detail of the iPhone 5 was leaked or spied before Apple's Wednesday announcement in San Francisco. Nearly, but not all. Apple didn't offer any astonishing one-more-thing style revelations, but it still tossed a few unexpected features into the iPhone 5.
Here are some of the stand-outs:
Improved Audio -- Apple stuck a number of audio improvements in the iPhone 5 that will be welcome additions for those who still like to make phone calls.
First, the iPhone 5 comes with three microphones. This will help reduce background noise in the earpiece speaker and result in clearer phone calls. Second, the earpiece speaker has a new five-magnet construction that should give it a boost in the volume department. Third, Apple revealed new headphones called EarPods. The EarPods are the culmination of three years' work, says Apple, and are better at directing sound into the ear canal. Toss in WideBand audio (a carrier-supported feature), and the iPhone 5 is a solid win for audiophiles.
A6 Processor -- The A6 processor wasn't a confirmed feature, but is certainly a welcome one. This new processor designed by Apple (and manufactured by Samsung) is 22% smaller than the A5 processor, uses less power, and boosts performance by a factor of two. According to Apple, the A6 chews through graphics-intensive apps and games and boosts frame-rates for ultra-smooth video.
Improved Battery Life -- LTE is a known power hog. Adding it to smartphones is a sure-fire way to kill the battery quickly. Even though the iPhone 5 adds LTE 4G, it boasts better browsing battery life than the iPhone 4S. In fact, at 8 hours of 4G power, it nearly equals the LTE browsing battery performance of the Retina Display iPad.
Additional Camera Features -- Apple was expected to improve the iPhone's camera, but several of the improvements weren't revealed ahead of time. For example, the iPhone 5 can now take panorama shots (up to 240 degrees). The iPhone 5's software accounts for shaky hands when shooting panoramas, and can stitch together uneven shots into a usable final image. Apple advertises panoramas as "28-megapixel" images. The camera also performs 40% quicker thanks to the A6 processor.
Significant Weight Drop and Waistline Reduction -- The iPhone 4/4S was not a thick, heavy device, but Apple still managed to reduce the thickness of the iPhone from 9.3mm to 7.6mm. Further, the weight has been reduced to 112 grams, or 3.95 ounces. That's less than one-quarter of a pound. The device is lengthier to accommodate the larger display, but the thinner profile and reduced weight go a long way to offset that. Few devices are so thin and so light.
The iPhone 5 may not look all that different from previous generations, nor offer that many more new features, but the engineering required to fit everything in such a small package is no, er, well, small feat.