Apple unveils iPhone 5, previews revamped iTunes & showcases new iPod family

On Wednesday Apple unveiled the next-generation iPhone and it’s called the iPhone 5. They also used their stage time to discuss iTunes+iPod, showing off a redesigned iTunes Store for iOS, a simplified version of iTunes for desktop, and showcasing the next-generation iPod nano and touch. We begin with the top story…

iPhone 5

The iPhone 5 is a beautiful piece of hardware made entirely of glass and aluminum. It’s the thinnest and lightest iPhone to date, measuring at 7.6mm thin (that’s 18% thinner than the iPhone 4S) and weighing 112 grams (20% lighter than the 4S). Apple’s calling it “the world’s thinnest smartphone.” The screen has grown for the first time to 4-inches, boasting a Retina display with 326 pixels per inch and a resolution of 1136×640. The additional screen real estate allows for a fifth row of apps in the home screen, and all of Apple’s apps take advantage of it. Third party apps will see the letterbox effect, but developers can easily tweak their apps to also fill up the screen properly. The iPhone 5 also features 44% more color saturation than it’s predecessor and integrated touch sensors in the screen make it 30% thinner than before outputting a sharper image and less glare in sunlight.

The bigger screen is just the tip of the iceberg. The new iPhone packs ultrafast wireless with built-in GPRS, EDGE, EV-DO, HSPA, HSPA+, DC-HSDPA, and, yes, LTE. In the U.S., LTE will be provided by Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. A single chip does voice and data; also inside is a single radio chip and a dynamic antenna. 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi is there as well.

The newly designed-by-Apple A6 chip features a CPU that’s 2x faster than before, with 2x faster graphics as well. The chip itself is 22% smaller than the previous A5 processor. Apple managed to make battery life better, too. It goes like this: 8 hours of 3G talk time, 3G browsing, and LTE browsing; 10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing and video playback; 40 hours of music playback; and 225 hours of standby time.

Both the back-facing iSight camera and the front-facing FaceTime camera have been upgraded. The iSight cam features an 8 megapixel sensor (3264×2448) with backside illumination, hybrid IR filter, five-element lens, and fast f/2.4 aperture. The 25% smaller design also boasts a dynamic low light mode, spatial noise reduction, a smart filter for improved color matching, better low-light performance, and faster photo capture (40% faster than the 4S). 1080p HD video recording is still here with improved video stabilization, face detection, and the ability to take photos while recording video. The back-facing camera can also take panoramic shots now thanks to a simple enhancement in the Camera app in iOS 6. Moving to the front side, the FaceTime camera takes 1.2 megapixel photos, shoots 720p HD video, and features backside illumination, face detection, and FaceTime over cellular (with Verizon and Sprint only).

Audio is better with three built-in microphones located in the front, back, and bottom of the phone. The improved speaker design is 20% smaller than before and features a five magnet transducer, a noise-canceling earpiece, and wideband audio for better phone call performance.

Say goodbye to the nearly decade old 30-pin dock connector. Apple announced the new Lightning connector that is found in the iPhone 5. It’s 80% smaller than its predecessor, it’s all-digital with an 8-signal design and adaptive interface with improved durability and get this–it’s reversible, meaning you can plug it into the bottom of your device face up or down. Apple will sell a 30-pin to Lightning adapter for those who own accessories like sound docks that were strictly designed with the 30-pin connector in mind.

Apple spent time detailing the next version of their mobile OS, and you can read all about iOS 6 right here. It brings Apple-designed Maps, the new app Passbook, and enhancements to Notification Center, Safari, Mail, Photos, and Siri (among over 250 new features) to the iPhone and its brethren. It’s available as a free upgrade to iPhone 4S, 4, 3GS, 3rd-gen iPad, iPad 2, and 4th-gen iPod touch owners on September 19.

Now it’s time to talk pricing and availability. The iPhone 5 features a two-tone exterior and will come in two hues: black/slate and white/silver. It’s priced exactly like the 4S was: $199 (16GB), $299 (32GB), $399 (64GB). It’s available for preorder starting Friday, September 14 and ships one week later on September 21 in the U.S., Canada, UK, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. A week after that it releases in 20 more countries, and by December it will ship in 100 countries with 240 carriers around the world. In other news, the iPhone 4 (8GB) is free and the iPhone 4S (16GB) is dropping to $99 effective immediately.


iTunes is getting a makeover. In the mobile space, the iTunes Store is sees a redesigned interface, improved performance, the ability to preview a song and continue browsing, improved search results, and Facebook and Twitter sharing capabilities. In desktop mode, iTunes as you now it is about to become “dramatically simplified,” says Apple. iTunes 11, coming in October, not only incorporates the redesigned Store but also an intelligent interface that makes browsing and searching your music collection a better and smarter experience. Besides the new general layout, a new feature called What’s Next let’s you easily queue up songs and see what’s coming up at a glance. Playlist creation is simpler, and a new MiniPlayer is smaller and incorporates playback buttons, search, and What’s Next. Additionally iCloud is built-in, so if you start a movie on your iPhone you can resume it on your desktop exactly from where you left off.


Last, Apple made sure to update their iPod lineup just before the holiday season comes around. The seventh generation iPod nano is seeing a major change in its form from its predecessor. It’s a mere 5.4mm thin (that’s 38% thinner than the previous nano), volume controls on the left side also serve as play/pause and forward/back controls, and then there’s the 2.5-inch multitouch display along with a dedicated physical home button underneath it. Widescreen video playback is back, and there’s fitness apps on board along with a built-in pedometer, radio with a live-pause feature, Bluetooth for wireless streaming, and the new Lightning connector. Apple promises 30 hours of music playback.

The fifth generation iPod touch has been made to look eerily similar to the latest iPhone. Made out of anodized aluminum measuring at 6.1mm thin and weighing 88 grams, the new touch sports the same 4-inch Retina display found in the iPhone 5. Inside you’ll notice the A5 chip that brings dual-core processing power to the touch for the first time; it’s 2x faster than the previously implemented A4 chip, and dual-core graphics is up to 7x faster. Apple claims 40 hours of music playback and 8 hours of video playback. A rear iSight camera is built in; it’s a 5 megapixel sensor with backside illumination, hybrid IR filter, five-element lens, f/2.4 aperture, autofocus, LED flash, with sapphire crystal lens cover, the panorama feature, and you can professionally edit on the go with iPhoto for iPod touch. The cam also does 1080p HD video recording with video image stabilization and face detection. The frontside features a FaceTime HD camera (720p), also with backside illumination and face detection. Apple touted “iPod Touch loop,” a small round button around the back of the device that when pressed allows you to attach a loop that you place around your wrist; the company says this will come in handy when you’re trying to capture shots from hard-to-reach camera angles and it helps protect the iPod from drops. It will surely make your music player look even more like a point-and-shoot camera. Also inside is Bluetooth 4.0 with LE and 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi. The new touch allows for AirPlay Mirroring and runs iOS 6 with Siri functionality.

Once again, let’s talk pricing and availability. On the latter, Apple played coy and simply said to expect the new nano and touch to release in October. The new 16GB iPod nano will sell for $149 and come in eight mostly vibrant colors, including a (Product) Red variant. The new iPod touch has two storage capacities–32GB for $299 and 64GB for $399–and comes in six different colors, (Product) Red edition here too. Apple will continue to sell the fourth-gen touch in 16GB ($199) and 32GB ($249) models, and although the 2GB ($49) iPod shuffle didn’t see a hardware update this week, it is shipping in eight new colors to match those paint jobs available in the new nano.

One more thing. After three years in the lab, Apple has finally updated its white earbuds. The new headphones are called EarPods and it’s Apple’s best shot at developing one-earbud-fits-all headphones. The design is based on the geometry of the ear, and the company believes it will make for a better fit and at the same time boast a higher quality sound than their previous effort. The EarPods are shipping now as a standalone accessory for $29, but if you decide to pick up one of the new touches, nanos, or iPhones you’ll get them gratis.

That’s a wrap. To dive even deeper into Apple’s recent slew of product announcements, head over to to see pretty images of the drool-worthy, shiny devices. Or just slide down to watch Jonny Ive discuss the iPhone 5 and another video breaking down the EarPod.

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