iPhone 5 goes for length and bigger screen

Thu, Sep 13, 2012, 01:00

THE LAUNCH of the new iPhone has been the hot rumour for weeks, but yesterday at an event in San Francisco, Apple finally showed off its slimmer, sleeker phone that is aimed at keeping the competition at bay.

Chief executive Tim Cook took to the stage to kick off the event at 6pm Irish time yesterday, putting an end to months of speculation about what Apple’s next move would be.

“Apple has never been stronger,” Mr Cook told the audience. He did not introduce the new iPhone himself, handing that job to Phil Schiller, Apple’s vice president of marketing.

He outlined all the benefits of the new handset, including its better display and battery life than its predecessor.

Longer, not wider, was the key to the new design. The sixth generation of the popular smartphone includes a 4in screen. Many of its competitors have gone larger, with the Samsung Galaxy S3 sporting a 4.8in HD Super AMOLED display.

Mr Schiller told the audience though that Apple wanted the device to be able to fit in the palm of a user’s hand and still remain usable.

Internally, the phone runs on a new A6 processor and the phone supports high-speed 4G LTE wireless networks. However, the move could prompt new legal action from South Korea’s Samsung, which holds a number of patents on 4G LTE. It has been reported in recent days that the firm will take action against Apple if it revealed a new phone using the technology.

Apple is also ditching the 30 pin connectors used in its previous iPhone, iPod and iPad models in favour of a new “Lightning” connector. That could prove a headache for committed iOS device users who have invested in docks and chargers over the years. However, Apple said it would provide an adapter to allow the new iPhone to work with older accessories.

The iPhone 5 also includes an enhanced battery, a common complaint with many smartphones. Apple’s newest device will offer eight hours of 4G web browsing.

iPhone 5 is Apple’s chance to fight back against growing competition from Android and Microsoft’s new line of Windows 8 phones. Competition has ramped up in the smartphone market in recent years and Apple needs to bring back the wow factor.

But the decision to only increase the height may disappoint some users, analysts said.

“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,” Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum said.

“On the other hand, the addition of LTE, the improvements in battery life, performance and the camera and so on will help the device appeal to existing iPhone users, and either close the gap or broaden its lead against competing devices. It seems likely that Apple will nevertheless sell tens of millions of iPhone 5 devices in the next few months.”

One of Apple’s main competitors is Samsung, which has adopted Google’s Android platform for many of its smartphones, along with Windows Phone.

Samsung, embroiled in an ongoing patent battle with Apple, has reached 20 million sales of its Galaxy S3 in just 100 days, breaking its previous record for the S2, which took 10 months to hit that milestone. Samsung is holding on to its popularity, despite the ongoing legal actions between the two companies.

Although results have been mixed across the different actions – more than 30 have been filed across four continents – Apple scored what was viewed as a major victory last month when a US court ruled that Samsung had infringed its patents.

Apple is currently taking action to try to prevent the sale of a number of Samsung smartphones that it claims infringe its patents and it is setting its sights on the Galaxy S3 next.

The new iPhone 5 will go on sale in the US and Britain on September 21st, before making its way to Europe and Ireland on September 28th.

iPhone 5 verdict: Slimmer, lighter and brighter

THE iPHONE 5 may not be quite as different from the 4S as rumours had led us to believe, but it is certainly distinguishable from its predecessor.

At first glance, it is noticeably brighter and you definitely notice the weight and size difference. This is partly due to the new technology used in the screen and partly because the Gorilla glass panel on the rear of the iPhone 4S has been replaced by an anodised aluminium body, with glass inlays to give it a bit of design flair. It certainly feels different.

Because Apple has made it longer rather than wider, there is no trouble operating the device one-handed. There is more screen space for calendars, emails, texts and the like, but that brings its own challenges for app developers – older apps will be centred with a black border either side to fill out the space. The phone certainly seems that bit faster, but the real test will come when it is laden down with extra apps.

It may not be the complete redesign that many were hoping for, but the iPhone 5 does enough to stand out from the crowd.

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