Apple reveals iPhone 5
The tech giant Apple announced the release of the upcoming iPhone 5, and suffice it to say, it’s kind of a big deal.
With a slew of new features and a ton of upgrades, this is undoubtedly the best iteration of the iPhone yet. But as consumers, we are posed with a tough question: Is upgrading or switching over from another smartphone to the iPhone 5 truly worth it?
This is a tough decision to make, and one that should not be undertaken without the proper information.
So what is it about the new iPhone 5 that makes it stand out from its predecessors? The most noticeable upgrade is the look and feel of the new device, which sports a bigger 4-inch screen, a full half-inch more than the previous iPhone 4S. The resolution of this new retina display screen remains the same as that of the 4S, but the increased size allows the phone to have the 16:9 aspect ratio that has become standard in almost all wide screen formats. The increased size of the screen also allows for a fifth row of icons to be displayed on the home screen.
The iPhone 5 is also 18 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter, with Apple claiming that it is the thinnest handset around. Apple has also chosen to replace the prone-to-cracking glass back of previous models with a new metal back, remedying a huge design issue that plagued the 4S. The standard headphones that ship with all new iPhone 5s has also been overhauled, switching from the clunky, rounded design to a better-fitting style, aptly named “earpods.”
Many upgrades have been made to the functionality of the new iPhone 5 as well. One of the more requested additions to the phone has been the ability to connect to 4G LTE networks, an option that Apple has been slow to integrate until now. Considered the fastest broadband network available for current handheld devices, 4G LTE will allow the iPhone 5 to access the fastest Internet speeds available.
The iPhone 5 will also sport the new A6 chip, an upgrade from the previous A5 chip in the iPhone 4S, which promises to double the speed and graphics of the iPhone 5.
Both the front-facing and back-facing cameras have also been given some subtle upgrades. Although the back-facing (main) camera shares the same eight megapixels as the camera in the 4S, its quality has been upgraded through enhanced stability and lighting features. The iPhone 5 will allow the camera to take panorama shots as well as face recognition of up to 10 people. HD video is still shot in 1080p, but the iPhone 5 allows for the ability to take photos directly from video.
The front-facing (secondary) camera can now shoot in 720p HD, and Apple has stated that FaceTime video chatting can now be accessible over a 3G network rather than being restricted to Wi-Fi (although some carrier services may block this). The addition of a third microphone (up from two microphones on the 4S) should allow for better audio quality on the device. Battery life has been extended on the device as well, with Apple promising up to eight hours of 3G talk time and 225 hours of standby time.
Apple also introduced the next upgrade to the iPhone operating system titled iOS 6. The new update will provide nearly 200 new features and will be downloadable for all iPhone devices 3GS and above, but many of these new features will be restricted to the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5. Some of the new features include the previously mentioned camera abilities, enhanced email and call functionality, phone controls and app integration.
The virtual assistant Siri will be overhauled with some new features as well, such as real-time sports updates and the ability to launch and interact with apps. The new “Passbook” function will allow users to store electronic versions of tickets, boarding passes, and coupons all in one place, which can be scanned straight from the phone’s screen at various outlets.
Navigation on iOS 6 has also undergone a huge overhaul, with a new mapping system that now provides turn-by-turn voice navigation on the 4S and iPhone 5, a feature that is standard on most Android phones and was much requested for the iPhone. The iOS 6 will come standard on the new iPhone 5, and is available for download on older iPhone devices.
Not all of the design changes, however, are for the better.
Apple introduced a new, smaller 8-pin dock port at the bottom of the phone called “lightning.” Although the previous 30-pin model has become a bit outdated, the new dock port will render all prior chargers, adaptors and accessories unusable. Apple has promised the release of a purchasable convertor, but the extra cost and the possible issues with prior device compatibility is sure to leave many consumers who own iPhone accessories in the lurch. A switch to a Micro-USB dock, the informal industry standard on most devices, could have helped to ease this transition.
Many features prominent in other new smart phones are also missing from the iPhone 5. Customizable home screens, widgets, digital payment functionality through near-field-communication technology, touch to share options, wireless charging and biometric security are all appearing on new smart phones but remain absent from the new iPhone 5. The storage options of 16GB and 32GB, a staple for the past few iterations of the iPhone, is another outdated feature that the iPhone 5 has retained in the face of other smartphones having 32GB storage as a standard with an option to add additional storage through micro SD cards.
Aside from all the updates (and flaws) to the design and functionality of the new iPhone, consumers need to beg the question: Has Apple done anything new and exciting to warrant the purchase of their shiny new phone? Is the new iPhone 5 worth it?
The simple answer is whether or not you feel it’s worthwhile for you.
Pre-orders have been available since Sept. 14, with a U.S. release date on Friday for AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.