Apple wasn't about to let a few silly, and ultimately accurate leaks ruin the annual ritual of a new iPhone launch in San Francisco on Wednesday.
With the usual fanfare, but very few surprises, the company announced the thinner, lighter, bigger iPhone 5, which includes a faster processor, faster Wi-Fi, LTE, better camera capability, and better audio--all delivered with even better battery life, and, of course, running on the newest version of iOS, version 6.
And lets not forget the controversial new connector, which Apple has dubbed "Lightning." This all-digital, 8-signal, reversible connector can connect to an adapter to the current 30-pin connector that all of Apple's existing mobile products use.
Here's the pricing for the iPhone 5: $199 (16 GB), $299 (32 GB), $399 (64 GB). Exactly the same pricing as the iPhone 4S when it first arrived. All of these prices are contingent upon a two-year contract.
The rumor mill even got the ship date right: available September 21 (pre-order this Friday, September 14). It will be available in 100 countries and through 240 carriers by the end of the year.
Additionally, the 16-GB iPhone 4S will now be $99, and the iPhone 4 (8 GB) will be free. All phones going back to the 3GS will be able to run iOS 6.
The iPhone 5 leaks were at an all-time high leading up to the event, and in this case it looks as if there was plenty of fire behind all of the smoke. The iPhone was getting a bit dated with its 3.5-inch display, even if its 326 pixel-per-inch retina display was unmatched in the industry.
Thus, the iPhone 5 has a 4-inch screen, with a resolution of 1136 x 640.
It's 18% thinner (7.6 mm; the iPhone 4S was 9.3 mm) and 20% lighter (112 grams; the iPhone 4S was 140 grams).
By comparison, the Samsung Galaxy SIII is 133 grams and 8.6 mm thin, but it has a 4.8-inch display, with a 720 x 1280 resolution (306 pixels per inch).
The display's touch sensor is embedded in the display's LCD, which is one of several changes that allowed Apple to make the device so thin. Additionally, Apple used a nano-SIM card (44% smaller than the current micro-SIM, according to Apple), put LTE voice and data on a single chip (most phones use two chips), and the Lightning connector is 80% smaller than the current connector design. Also, Apple said the camera is 20% smaller.
The iPhone 5 is made completely of aluminum and glass, according to Apple. It comes in the usual black or white.
"All your software works just like before" said Phil Schiller, senior VP of worldwide marketing. That is, there shouldn't be any worries about modified applications.
The iPhone 5 is powered by the A6 processor (again, this was expected), a quad-core CPU that Apple said is twice as fast as previous processors, and its graphics also run twice as fast. [Editor's Note/Update: There are no hard details on the A6 yet, at least not on Apple's site; the expectation was that this would be a quad-core processor.] Apple has added support not only for HSPA+, but also LTE. The phone's Wi-Fi capabilities now include dual-channel mode--it will support 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, with theoretical throughput of 150 Mbps.
Last week, Amazon made a big deal about the necessity of fast Wi-Fi with its Kindle Fire HD: Amazon added dual antennas and support for MIMO.
Apple provided the following specifications on battery life: Talk time (over 3G): 8 hours; LTE browsing: 8 hours; video playback: 10 hours. These are just guidelines, as we've learned through experience. We'll know more in the first few days of hands on testing.
In addition to the normal camera improvements (better quality in low light, five-element lens, more and better filters, better image stabilization, and faster photo capture), Apple has added a much-needed panorama feature (there were applications that provided this, of course).
Apple also included three microphones on the iPhone 5, and enhanced the speakers a bit.
As part of Apple's launch of some new iPods (a fifth generation iPod Touch and a seventh generation iPod Nano; these are taking on many of the iPhone features, like bigger, thinner displays, Retina displays, multi-touch, Siri, better cameras, better performance--the iPod Nano even has a pedometer), Apple also introduced EarPods, which the company says it has been working on for three years. It's a vast upgrade to the ubiquitous ear buds, and they'll be introduced not only with the new iPods, but also the iPhone 5. They'll be more comfortable, a better fit, and, naturally higher quality, Apple said.
Apple reiterated some of the advantages in the new iOS 6, including iCloud tabs, Maps, Siri integration in apps, and some new email additions. One of the most exciting things in the new operating system is Passbook, with its ability to consolidate purchasing and reservations and tickets into a single app. Early on, observers predicted that the iPhone 5 would include NFC support, especially after Apple announced Passbook in iOS 6, but the latest, accurate leaks revealed the truth: Apple must be leaving NFC to some future generation of its phone. This is a disappointing omission: Apple has the power to give the mobile payments industry a huge push.
iOS 6 becomes available on September 19, two days before the iPhone 5 arrives in customers' hands.
By the way, Apple CEO Tim Cook, in the normal obligatory event preamble that includes a stream of impressive sales and installed base numbers, actually mentioned enterprise iPad adoption, noting that almost all Fortune 500 companies are testing or deploying iPads, and that many of them are creating custom applications (presumably iOS versions of corporate applications). Not a big surprise, but it's nice that he acknowledged it.