Apple's iPhone 5: Everything You Need to Know

By Jesus Diaz on at

The new iPhone 5 is here. It's thinner and faster than ever, with a new form factor that uses a gorgeous panoramic screen with a higher resolution and less power consumption. It also surfs the web much faster, thanks to its new LTE capabilities. And, just as we suspected, it has a new smaller dock connector called Lightning.

Overall, it seems they have improved every single aspect of the iPhone. Very nice.


Physical features

The iPhone 5 looks exactly as the leaked phone: an unibody aluminium body with a glass screen. "It's thinner than ever," says Phil Schiller. 18 per cent thinner in fact, which puts it at 7.6 millimetres. They are claiming this is the world's thinnest smartphone.

It's also 20 per cent lighter than the current iPhone, just 112 grams. It comes in black and white models.

Their new manufacturing method seems quite extraordinary. According to Jon Ive, they "have never built a product with this extraordinary level of fit and finish." They claim that the "variances from product to product is now measured in microns."



As expected, it uses LTE connectivity, so it will be much faster that the current iPhone 4S. It supports all the standards needed for all networks: HSPA+, DC-HSDPA and LTE. Apple says that its single-chip solution works everywhere.

The iPhone 5 also has dual-channel 5GHz Wi-Fi — aka 802.11N. That means a 150Mbps maximum connectivity speed.



Apple claims that the new 16:9 4-inch panoramic screen has 44 per cent more saturation than the iPhone, which makes the display full sRGB. The display has its touchscreen sensor built-in, which was crucial to its thinness. Apple says that no other phone in the market has this.



It also has a new CPU, the A6 — which Apple claims is 2 times faster than the current iPhone 4S, both in CPU and graphics. In real life, it claims it loads web pages 2.1 times as fast.



If true, this is impressive: 8 hours of 3G talk time, 8 hours of LTE browsing, 10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing, 30 hours of video and 225 hours of standby.



They have also updated the camera. On paper, it's better than the one in iPhone 4S, with a five-element lens and a 8 megapixel sensor (3264 x 2448 pixel), backside illumination, a new hybrid infrared filter, and a nice f/2.4 aperture.

It has a new dynamic low light mode too (I wonder how it compares to Nokia's IOS) and a sapphire crystal. Knowing how scratched the glass on my iPhone is — making the photos not as crisp as when it was new — that's good news. Shapphire crystal is the hardest thing you can get this side of a diamond.

The new image processing chip has spatial noise reduction, with a system to analyse which parts of the image need noise reduction and which should be left alone. As a result of all this, it claims low light photography is now much better than before.

Here's an image taken with the new iPhone, which Apple claims it's completely unretouched:


Panorama mode

The image capture is also faster: 40 per cent, they say. The iPhone 4S camera is already quite fast, so it will be interesting to see how this thing handles. Certainly, there's no such thing as fast enough when it comes to taking photos.

They have also added a new capture mode called panorama. It doesn't require you to stitch photos one by one: just pan the phone and it will automatically capture a panorama for you. Even if you can't hold it steady, the phone is smart enough to know how to correct for it and make a perfect panorama. It also gets rid of any moving object, they say.


Video face detection

Like the previous iPhone, this one has 1080p HD capture. They claim they have improved the image stabilisation in this version, added face detection (so it will be able to tag people automatically in videos) and, this is good, it will allow you to take full still photos while recording video.


Front FaceTime camera

They have also make the 720p front camera better. It also has face detection and—at last—the operating system will enable FaceTime over cellular.



Apple has also upgraded the audio, both the microphones and the speakers.

It now has three microphones — one the front, back and bottom. They will improve the quality of your voice calls — who actually calls anymore? — and sound recordings. More importantly, they have included noise canceling without the need for external specialised headphones.

The speakers are much better quality now, going from three to five magnet transducers, which will result in a clearer, richer sound. Any improvement over the cricket boxes of previous versions is welcome.

Apple has also improved the quality of voice calls. According to Phil Schiller, the new iPhone 5 can use something called wideband audio. If supported by the network (like Orange's HD calling), the phone will use more of the spectrum bandwidth to send a much better and high-fidelity version of your voice over the network.


New Connector

As predicted, the dock connector has changed. It's now much smaller. Apple calls it Lightning (a name play on its other connector technology: Thunderbolt). It's all digital and has 8 connectors. It also has an adaptive interface, which I guess means that the connector will send different signals according to the kind of features you need in your connection.

They best thing about the new connector, however, is that it is reversible. This may seem stupid, but being able to connect your cable no matter of the orientation will protect humanity against the 529th Article of Murphy's Law: "Thou will always try to connect your iPhone cable the wrong way up."

Does that mean that you would have to trash your old dock accessory? No, they are giving us an adapter that will turn the old connector into the new Lightning. Phil Schiller says that they are working with peripheral manufacturers to include Lightning in their next batch of products, which will arrive this Christmas.


Price and availability

We're waiting on full pricing in the UK, but it'll cost you from £530 off-network, which is £30 more than the iPhone 4S used to be.

In the United States, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore you will be able to pre-order it this Friday and get it the next, September 21 The other countries will have it on September 28.

Oh, and if that's still too expensive for you: the iPhone 4S has been lowered in price, too, with a two-year contract. The iPhone 4 will be free with the same contract, bumping out the iPhone 3GS.

For a full list of everything Apple announced at its September keynote, take a look over here.