Yesterday, Apple put an end to all of the speculation and finally revealed the details of the iPhone 5. A 16GB version of the phone—which you can preorder starting tomorrow (ships September 22)—will set you back $199 with a two-year contract. So is it worth the money? What's so great about the iPhone 5 anyway?
At 4 inches instead of 3.5 inches, this is the biggest iPhone screen ever. The taller screen means you'll be able to see a fifth row of apps instead of just four, and the 16:9 aspect ratio makes it ideal for watching movies. Apple also claims the Retina display offers a sharper, richer picture with 44 percent more color saturation than the iPhone 4S. Normally touchscreens are built with three layers; Apple reduced that to just one, integrating the sensors directly into the display. That means…
Lighter and Thinner
Reducing the thickness of the screen helped Apple make a phone that is 18 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter than its predecessor. Other than that, the iPhone 5, made entirely out of aluminum and glass, doesn't look terribly different from the iPhone 4 or 4S. The fact that it's taller but not wider means you'll still be able to use it comfortably with one hand.
The previous knock against the iPhone was that it downloaded content at 3G speeds as high-end Android phones were using 4G LTE. Now the iPhone 5 is joining the 4G LTE club on AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. That means you'll be able to download things twice as fast as you could before.
The eight-megapixel camera features a sapphire-crystal lens, which means it won't be getting scratched anytime soon. With an f/2.4 aperture, it's capable of shooting great photos in low light. It also captures photos 40 percent faster, so no more lag time. The camera also captures 1080p HD video and lets you take still photos while recording video. The front-facing camera used for FaceTime also got an HD upgrade.
Apple says its new A6 chip can run apps and games twice as fast as its previous A5 chip. It's also more efficient, giving the phone a longer battery life, with up to eight hours of Web browsing at LTE speeds.
Apple has updated its Maps app so that your iPhone 5 can give you turn-by-turn directions, a feature that was frustratingly missing from old versions of the iPhone. Apple also replaced its famous white earbuds with new EarPods, which supposedly fit and sound a lot better. The iPhone also has a new smaller dock connector called Lighting. So, yes, you'll have to buy a separate adapter to plug it into any docks you use with your current iPhone.
Overall, they're not dramatic changes. Apple basically took every part of the iPhone 4S and made it better. Still, it's enough of an improvement that you can expect to see lines outside of your local Apple Store come September 22. As for those looking to save a little money, know that you can now get the iPhone 4S for $99 and the iPhone 4 for free with a new two-year contract.
—Keith Wagstaff is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn. Follow him @kwagstaff.