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Apple unveils thinner, faster iPhone 5 at $199

Thomas K Thomas
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iPhone 5 is likely to be launched in India by December.
iPhone 5 is likely to be launched in India by December.

“Now today we're taking it to the next level. Making a huge leap,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said as he launched the iPhone 5 on Wednesday.

The new iPhone is the thinnest and the lightest phone from the Apple stable. At 7.6mm, it is 18 per cent thinner than the existing models. It is also 20 per cent lighter than iPhone4S at 112 gm.

“It's the most beautiful product we've ever made. This is the monumental challenge we had — can you make a phone with more features that is smaller and lighter. Anyone can make a bigger phone," said Apple marketing head Phil Schiller. The iPhone 5 comes in black colour, and also white.

The new screen on iPhone 5 is a 4-inch display compared with 3.5 inch in the earlier version.

Upgraded features

One of the promises made by Apple in the new iPhone is faster performance thanks to a more powerful A6 processor. "Compared to the A5, it's two times faster. It's a huge jump in performance, but 22 per cent smaller," said Schiller.

But perhaps the most amazing new feature in the new iPhone is that it allows you to take panoramic pictures. The 8 Megapixel camera also allows you to take photos while shooting video.

The device, like its predecessor, comes with the Retina display and has the same 326 pixels per inch found in the iPhone 4S. In terms of resolution, users can expect 1,136 x 640, Schiller says.

Apple announced the iPhone 5 will come with support for 4G LTE service, delivering what it calls, "Ultrafast Wireless''.

The new device also comes with improved audio experience. It’s designed with three microphones: one on the front, one on the back, and one on the bottom.

The front and back mics work together to achieve beamforming — a technique that helps iPhone focus on sound from the desired location for clearer audio. New noise-canceling technology reduces background noise.

New Siri features

With iOS 6, Siri understands more questions, knows more answers, and gives you a lot more to talk about. Ask Siri about sports scores and stats, where to eat, what movies to see — even ask Siri to make Facebook posts or tweet for you.

Pricing

In the US market, the iPhone5 will be priced at $199 for the 16GB version and $399 for the 64 GB version under a two-year contract. Unlocked price was not revealed but is expected to be about $900.

The phone will be available starting September 21 in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore... In India, the device is likely to be launched by December.

Analysts take

Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum, said that the new device highlights the inherent risks involved in Apple’s strategy of only releasing one device at a time, in that it always has to strike a compromise that is most likely to appeal to a wide base of users.

The new device strikes that compromise most dramatically in the increased vertical height. With many Android and Windows Phone devices now significantly larger than the iPhone 4S and gaining popularity, the pressure has grown on Apple to release a larger device.

“By only increasing the vertical height, it’s created a device that’s notably taller and thinner in aspect ratio than most of those Android devices, and as a result it will stand out, which may not be a good thing. While keeping the device small enough for some hands is important, many customers would have wanted something bigger, and they’ll be disappointed,” Dawson said.

Dawson, however, added that the addition of LTE, the improvements in battery life, performance and camera will help the device appeal to existing iPhone users, and either close the gap or broaden its lead against competing devices.

Analysts said that Apple will nevertheless sell tens of millions of iPhone 5 devices in the next few months and well over 100 million in total over the next year.

iPhone users who are currently using an iPhone 4 and have the opportunity to upgrade will no doubt do so in large numbers, and the more fanatical iPhone 4S users will do the same. It will also sell lots of the previous two generations of devices as those go on sale at a lower price.

“But Android’s lead in total shipments and installed base will continue to grow, however, as Apple’s devices continue to target just a subset of the addressable market and Android devices meet a much wider range of customer preferences and price points,” Ovum said.

thomas.thomas@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 12, 2012)
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