iPhone 5 launch brings few surprises

David McQueen/Informa Telecoms & Media
13 Sep 2012

With the iPhone 5, Apple has delivered a new iPhone that offers few surprises but promises a significantly better user experience as a result of its faster LTE connectivity, processor speeds and better Retina display.

The iPhone 5 screen has increased to 4” and while it has the same width as its predecessor, it is longer in a near-16:9 aspect ratio. This not only allows old apps to work (using black bars top and bottom) but also fits with the scalability of the new software upgrade iOS 6. The iPhone 5 is powered by an A6 chip, which Apple claims the CPU operates at twice the speeds and graphics than the A5 chip. Further, the screen is lighter owing to in-cell technology and the device overall is both lighter and thinner than the iPhone 4S.

Now with LTE, the new iPhone will also be available on GPRS, EDGE, EV-DO, HSPA, HSPA+, and DC-HSDPA. In the UK, the full LTE capabilities of the device will first be available on EE although the fallback technologies will allow all carriers to range the device. The iPhone 5 is now equipped with a dynamic antenna that can switch between different networks.

In line with the rumours, Apple has changed the connector for the iPhone 5 to a smaller version, the 8-pin “Lightning” connector, which is both thinner and double-sided making it easier to use. Apple has already partnered with Bose, B&W, JBL and Bang & Olufsen in bringing to market new accessories and speaker docks. The headphone jack has also been relocated to the bottom of the device next to the connector, possibly to accommodate the new LTE hardware.

Apple laid out a comprehensive set of international markets for the iPhone's first wave of distribution starting 21st September (US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore), including all three LTE enabled operators in the US. A second group of 20 countries will receive the new iPhones starting September 28th. Pricing for the iPhone 5, on contract, will be the same as that for the 4S: $199 for 16GB; $299 for 32GB; and, $399 for 64GB. In addition, the iPhone 4 and 4S are to be kept in market at significantly reduced prices.

The iPhone 5 release has provide a much needed physical update of the device, despite the screen not being the largest in the smartphone market and it still lacks NFC and wireless charging. From a connectivity angle, the iPhone 5 needed LTE connectivity as it becomes more fundamental for all new flagship devices. With Apple’s strong existing relationships with a number of major carriers, the new iPhone model promises great potential sales for the 4Q holiday shopping season, even in the face of new LTE-capable devices from Samsung, HTC, Nokia and Motorola also being launched in 4Q.

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