Apple introduces the iPhone 5

In case you hadn't heard, there's a new iPhone. Rumors about the device have been swirling for months. This morning, while live blogs buzzed, Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller unveiled the iPhone 5 at a press event in San Francisco. As expected, the handset supports 4G LTE in addition to the usual mix of wireless networks.

Like most new Apple products, the iPhone 5 is thinner and lighter than its forebear. The glass-and-aluminum body measures just 7.6 mm thick and weighs only 112 grams—18% thinner and 20% lighter than the iPhone 4S. The new screen, which features in-cell integrated touch sensors, gets some of the credit for the slimmer body.

Despite having a thinner profile, the iPhone 5's screen is actually larger. It measures 4" diagonally, or half an inch larger than iPhone 4S's LCD. The resolution has gone up from 960x640 to 1136x640, increasing real estate and boosting PPI slightly. Even though the aspect ratio is a movie-friendly 16:9, the screen can't display 720p content in all its glory. Picture quality should be good, though. Apple says the new screen improves color saturation by 40% and covers the full sRGB color gamut.

In addition to an upgraded screen, the iPhone 5 features a new system-on-a-chip: the Apple A6. That new processor has dual cores based on ARM's Cortex-A15, and it's claimed to offer twice the CPU performance of the A5 chip in the iPhone 4S. Graphics performance has purportedly improved by a factor of two, as well. EA Executive Producer Rob Murray was brought on stage to give a quick demo of a racing game, and he said the iPhone 5 offers "full console quality" graphics. We've heard that claim before, and it gets less impressive the older current-gen consoles get.

Although Apple didn't reveal the fabrication process used to manufacture its new SoC, the chip is supposed to be 22% smaller than its predecessor. It should be pretty power-efficient, too. The iPhone 5's battery is said to be good for eight hours of 4G web surfing.

The iPhone's 8MP rear-facing camera has also gotten a boost from the A6, which can capture images 40% faster than the old shooter. Looks like the A6 provides the processing grunt behind some fresh filtering and noise-reduction algorithms, plus new low-light and panorama modes. The front-facing camera is now capable of 1080p video capture for FaceTime calls, too, and there are three separate microphones onboard.

As expected, the iPhone 5 features a smaller docking connector, which Apple dubs Lightning. The connector is reversible—a nice touch—but the adapter for existing accessories looks far from elegant. There's no word on how much that adapter will cost, either.

Naturally, the iPhone 5 features a new version of iOS that will trickle out to some older iDevices. The original iPad isn't on the list, but the iPhone 3GS is. Incidentally, the 3GS is being discontinued. Apple's updated iPhone lineup starts with the 4, which will be free on contract, followed by the 4S at $99 and the base iPhone 5 at $199. That $199 will get you 16GB of storage, but you'll be able to grab 32GB and 64GB versions of the iPhone 5 for $299 and $399, respectively. Pre-orders will start on September 14, with shipments to the US and a several other countries set to begin a week later. Thanks to live blogs at The Verge and AnandTech for the details on Apple's presentation.

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