Apple have officially announced the next generation of the iPhone, fortunately sticking to the product numbering logic set by the previous four iterations with the name 'iPhone 5.'
So how much of the rumours and leaks from various sites and blogs were true? Let's just say Tim Cook failed to 'double down' on securing unannounced products, starting with the introduction of a long overdue 4" display, constructed by Sharp.
The much stronger body construction shows off a new 'two-tone' design direction for the iPhone. It's made up of an aluminium unibody chassis (a la Mac) on the back, and two "windows" made of glass to aid phone reception. Coming in white and black: the former with a light brushed metal back, and the latter with a more gunmetal grey colour.
While I do not agree that larger displays make a better device, the 3.5" standard set since 2007 is looking awfully small. Without a sufficient hands on, it's impossible to tell how much this affects the ergonomics; but as the width hasn't actually been altered (the design is just taller), I can't see this new display making much of a difference. Plus the module is actually thinner in construction and lighter, leading to a 18% slimmer body at 7.6mm (weighing 112 grams). Retina resolution has also been maintained at 640 x 1136, leading to a 16:9 resolution for optimum video content viewing and the addition of an extra row of icons to the home screen.
4G LTE has made it to the iPhone 5, righting the wrongs of AT&T's misleading claim of '4G' on its previous Apple device. Plus, as Apple have implemented the global standard, we'll also be prepared for it here in the UK. As EE have announced their introduction of LTE to Britain, we eagerly anticipate confirmation of this device on their network, now that the lid has been officially blown by Apple.
The iPad 3 power has been surpassed with the A6 processor, touting 2x faster CPU Power and graphics than the previous A5. This performance boost in the grand scheme of iOS power usage isn't really necessary; but it's a welcome excess of speed to maintain a future-proof capability for over the next year of app development possibilities. This is being put through its paces, as Rob Murray from EA Games is demoing a startlingly good looking Real Racing 3.
The battery has also undergone a much needed upgrade, to ensure a slightly improved lifespan with all of the new technology: 8 hours talktime, 10 hours video, 40 hours music, and 8 hours 4G browsing. We weren't going to see blow-away battery life with the new standard of mobile data; but it's good enough for a day.
The camera has remained the same at 8 megapixels, along with the backside illuminated sensor of old and the hybrid IR filter. However, they are also touting a lens that is made from sapphire crystal, with precision lens alignment. The A6 processor has also contributed toward software image improvements such as Spatial Noise Reduction, 40% faster photo capture, and an all new Panoramic photo mode.
Video recording has also undergone improvement, with improved stabilisation and the ability to take photos while recording. The front facing camera is now capable of capturing in 720p HD (well, Apple's version, which probably means its still a sub 1mp sensor). And with three microphones, call and audio recording quality is set to a level that doesn't peak via noise cancellation from all angles.
Probably the biggest change rumoured (and confirmed by a leaked photo of the data transfer cable) is the smaller dock connector, named 'lightning.' This could prove slightly problematic to people with third party accesories, or cars with dock connectors. Thankfully, there's an adaptor that connects snuggly to Apple's USB cable of old; but hopefully some compatability with speaker docks is worked out.
Pricing has been kept very much in line with what has been before, with the 16GB costing $199, 32GB at $299 and the 64GB model priced at $399. The iPhone 4S has been bumped down to $99, and the iPhone 4 has taken the 3GS' spot as the free model of the range. This is making for a rather formiddable range to all price entry points. We'll be writing about UK prices when they are announced by carriers here.
The iOS6 software update will be coming to iPhone 4S, 4 and 3GS, iPad 3 and 2, and the fourth gen iPod Touch on September 19th
So overall, it may not have been the jaw dropping announcement due to us knowing the vast majority of it; but it's exactly what we wanted, and we're rather excited to put one through its paces.