As expected, Apple unveiled the iPhone 5 at its media event in San Francisco on Wednesday. It's taller, it's thinner, and it's already sold out in pre-orders. Mac OS Ken's Ken Ray digs into what the new iPhone brings to the table, and yes, his is already on order.
Hello, iPhone 5
In looking over what happened at this week's Apple media event, I was reminded of the chorus from a song by Radiohead: No Alarms and Nor Surprises. It's not that it was bad -- that's the "no alarms" part -- but there was almost nothing unexpected. That would be the "no surprises" bit.
Well, no surprises unless you're me or someone like me. Despite the shadowy number 5 on the invitation, I really didn't think they were going to call the sixth iPhone -- the first to run iOS 6 -- iPhone 5.
I also thought they would, or at the very least might, take five or ten minutes at the top to quickly introduce new Macs.
There's a reason I don't go to the track.
Just like the leaked pictures showed, the iPhone five is taller, though no wider than its iPhone predecessors, allowing for a fifth row of icons on the home screen and a sensible 16:9 aspect ratio, perfect for watching the widescreen video that Apple would love for you to rent or buy from them. And just as everyone expected, it is a 4G/LTE device.
No surprises there, though it still manages to stun in a lot of ways.
It's decidedly thinner than the iPhone 4S; 18 percent thinner according to Apple. Coming in at 7.6 millimeters thick, the company declares iPhone 5 the thinnest smartphone in the world. It's also lighter, 20 percent lighter than iPhone 4S, weighing in at 112 grams.
What's inside the device? Magic elves, cleverly disguised as an Apple-designed A6 chip. Apple says the A6 was designed "to maximize performance and power efficiency," driving the phone's 4-inch Retina display while "delivering even better battery life."
The phone's techs and specs page says it should attain Up to 8 hours of talk time on 3G, Up to 225 hours of standby time, up to 8 hours of internet surfing on either 3G or LTE, up to 10 hours on Wi-Fi, up to 10 hours of video playback and up to 40 hours of audio playback. Plus, says the company's PR, "With up to twice the CPU and graphics performance, almost everything you do on iPhone 5 is blazing fast."
How'd they accomplish the thinness? Rumors of the integrated touch technology, which removes one of the three layers present in the iPhones that came before, turned out to be spot-on, as did most of the rumors. Not only does that shave off some thickness, it also offers the most accurate display in the industry, according to the all-things-iMaker.
iPhone 5 supports ultrafast wireless standards including HSPA +, DC-HSDPA and LTE, as has been mentioned, plus 802.11n. Also in the phone, an improved, 8-megapixel iSight camera, sporting a sapphire crystal lens cover that is thinner and more durable than regular glass, and this too has been reduced in size: 25 percent smaller than the camera in the iPhone 4S.
As for what you can do with that camera -- no I'm not gonna talk dirty -- there's a feature that had been the domain of app developers to this point: Panorama lets users grab panorama images of up to 28 megapixels just by simply moving the camera from left to right or right to left. Whichever. Photo capture is also said to be 40 percent faster.
For video, it'll capture 1080p HD video with improved stabilization from the back-facing camera, while the side that faces the front can capture 720p HD video. Which is better.
Thinner, taller, lighter: Apple's new iPhone 5
How do you hook it to things? Don't call it a 8-pin dock connector. Call it by its proper name: Lightning. "Smaller, smarter and more durable than the previous connector," according to Apple. It's reversible, which I love, though it won't work with with any current peripherals without a 30-pin to Lightning adapter, which will run buyers either $29 for a nibbly one, or $39 for an adapter with a cord. 80 percent smaller, letting Apple do all kinds of weird things like move the headphone jack to the bottom of the phone.
Audio is also said to be improved, but let's be honest: you don't use smartphones to talk to people.
Though Apple made no mention of it during the event, Engadget says the new phone does employ the Apple-designed nano-SIM standard. So no moving your old micro-SIM to your new phone.
I'm predicting "invisa-SIM" for iPhone 7, which could well be the ninth or tenth iPhone.
Of course iPhone 5 comes with iOS 6, which you can get before the new hardware hits. The new mobile operating system will be available as a free upgrade on compatible hardware on Wednesday, September 19th.
With all of the improvements and upgrades for iPhone 5, prices remain the same for the new phone: $199 for a 16 gigabyte model, $299 for the 32 gigger, and $399 for the 64 gigabyte unit, each with two-year contracts, of course.
Pre-orders started on Friday, September 14th in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the UK with iPhone 5 shipping on Friday, September 21st. For line sitters, Apple Stores will open at 8AM on that Friday.
International expansion is nutty aggressive this time around. One week later, Friday September 28th, iPhone 5 will ship to 22 more countries and Apple says it'll be available in 100 countries on 250 carriers by the end of this calendar year.
This does, of course, cause a shuffle in the iPhone line-up. The iPhone 4S is now Apple's $99 phone, the iPhone 4 is Apple's free phone, and the iPhone 3GS is a memory.
So I got one right.
Gotta get a New iPhone... Maybe
I'd imagine a lot of people are going to say the first day of iPhone 5 pre-orders did not go well. Actually, I'd imagine a lot of people will say the first hour didn't go well.
Here's how it looked from where I sat. Five minutes 'til midnight PDT (3:00 AM where I live) there was no access to the Apple Store online, as had been the case most of the night. Four minutes. Three minutes, two minuets, one minute... and here we go... still waiting... for one minute... two minutes... three minutes... five... 10... then @ericof on Twitter tells me he's placed his order. And I'm still looking at Apple's "We'll be back soon" sign rotating through languages.
He'd ordered his through the Apple Store for iOS app, which I'd removed from my phone forever ago. Quick to the App Store, re-download and there, big as you please, is the ability to order the iPhone 5. On my laptop, the store is still promising to open again soon so I ordered iPhone 5 through my iPhone 4, which felt a little weird.
There were a few timeouts -- about five minutes of those -- but by 25 minutes past the hour, I had a confirmation email from Apple with an order number and everything. The store didn't come back up for pre-orders until 42 minutes past the hour. So yeah, it was a bit late.
Still, we're rocking, we're rolling, we're one hour and 17 minutes into the pre-order parade... and Apple shows shipping times for iPhone 5 slipping from 9/21 to "Available to Ship: 2 Weeks."
I'd imagine a lot of people are going to say the first day of iPhone 5 pre-orders did not go well.
The question in my mind is does the slip in shipping times indicate production shortages, which have been rumored for the past few weeks, or does it signal what some financial analysts said was coming: the biggest launch for a consumer electronics product ever? It'll be interesting to hear what Apple says, assuming Apple says anything, which is not a safe assumption.
Cue the Analysts
How did the financial analysts following Apple feel after yesterday's presentation? "Giddy" might be overstating it, but not by much.
Fortune runs down some early notes from a few of them:
Topeka Capital's Brian White: "The Hot New iPhone 5 Unveiled. Let the Lines Begin. We believe these changes will drive the biggest upgrade in consumer electronics history." He's still got a price target of about a bajillion dollars on the company's shares. $1,111 to be more precise.
Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster:
Apple officially announced the iPhone 5 today and we believe the phone will meet or exceed consumer expectations. The redesigned phone gives us greater confidence in our feeling that Apple will sell 6-10 million iPhone 5s by the end of September and we are increasing our September quarter iPhone unit estimate to 27.2 million from 22 million to reflect our confidence.
And BMO Capital's Kieth Bachman:
For Apple product launches, we usually call out a few features that stand out. However, our take on the new iPhone 5 is this is more about a sum of the parts. With the larger screen, improved software included iOS 6, Siri and maps, in lighter form factor, we think the phone will do well.
Listen to This
Shipping with all of that new hardware, some brand-new ear... things.
In my day, we called them headphones. Then Apple called them Ear Buds. And from those buds, something new has grown. Say hello to EarPods.
Apple is really proud of these. Says it took them three years from start to finish. The Mac Observer has Apple calling the ear-hole feeders "a breakthrough design for a more natural fit, increased durability and an incredible acoustic quality typically reserved for higher-end earphones."
They're still white. they're available now for $29, though they'll ship with the iPods and iPhones as well.
Buck iPhone Stops Here
And finally this week, you know how easy an iPhone is to use? Not President Obama.
The Washington Times says the POTUS was on the campaign trail in Florida this past weekend. He stopped into a campaign office in Port St. Lucie to thank volunteers and decided to call a couple of campaign workers who were out spreading the word about the president while he was back at their office.
That's when White House trip director Marvin Nicholson gave the president his iPhone, which is when the president started looking "befuddled," according to one reporter. He had trouble dialing, explained that he still has a BlackBerry, then went back to having trouble dialing.
He gave Nicholson back his iPhone, then was handed another iPhone with which he was able to make his calls.
So maybe they're no completely intuitive. They are, at least, quick to figure out.