Is There Anything Special About The iPhone 5?

It’s been almost a year since Apple unveiled the iPhone 4S, with some significant upgrades like Siri voice recognition and both CDMA and GSM compatibility. So today the company announced the latest iteration of the iPhone, but would the iPhone 5 have enough new bells and whistles to make 4S users take a hammer to their old phones in disgust?

As expected, the iPhone 5 will not only work on 4G wireless networks like HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA but is 4G LTE compatible. Of course, this may mean nothing to you if you live in the overwhelming majority of the nation that does not access to LTE yet.

The prices for the iPhone 5 remain the same as for the original 4S: $199 for 16GB; $299 for 32GB; $399 and for 64GB. All of these require two-year contracts with the carrier.

Pre-orders begin Friday Sept. 14 and the device ships Sept. 21.

The phone’s exterior is made entirely of glass and aluminum, and the company claims it’s not only the lightest and thinnest iPhone yet at 18% skinnier and 20% lighter than the 4S, it’s also the thinnest smartphone in the world.

The 4-inch Retina display has a 1136 × 640 resolution and a full 16 x 9 aspect ratio. The device is taller than previous iPhones. “It’s because of your hand,” said Apple exec Phil Schiller. “It should fit there.”

“You see more of your email in mail. Your calendar shows more events,” he added.

With the wider aspect ratio and 40% more color saturation, the new display should work better for streaming videos and gives some apps more room to play around with.

Schiller also claimed the display “is the most accurate display in the industry. The touch sensors are integrated right into the display itself. We removed a layer and made it sharper. This is the world’s most advanced display.”

The iPhone 5 is also capable of faster WiFi connections than previous iterations with 2.4ghz and 5ghz on 802.11n added to the device.

Apple says the new A6 chip doubles the speed of the CPU and graphics on the iPhone 5.

“It’s a huge jump in performance, but 22% smaller,” says Schiller.

The battery should allow for eight straight hours of web browsing over LTE networks.

The iPhone 5 camera is now 8 megapixels and Schiller claims that other camera upgrades allow for 40% faster image capturing. He also showed off a new built-in panorama mode that stitches together photos. There are currently any number of third-party apps that do this, but this appears to be included with the device.

And of course there is FaceTime Over Cellular, which allows users to use the native video chat app over their wireless connection. It had previously only been available for use over WiFi.

Sure to be of annoyance to some people is Apple’s decision to finally do away with the wide 30-pin connectors that have been associated with iOS devices for years. But rather than go the industry standard with a micro USB connection, Apple is using a connector it dubs “Lightning.”

There will of course be clunky adaptors for people who have purchased any number of 30-pin based accessories over the last half-decade.

iOS 6 has a new feature called Passbook, that appears to allow users to make certain things — boarding passes, movie tickets — available from the lock screen, rather than requiring them to search through the phone for them.

The updated OS also has built-in, cloud-based photo sharing that allows you to pick images and then select the contacts you wish to share them with, rather than sending a photo via text or through a third-party app.

Like its predecessor, the iPhone 5 will be available in black and white.

Earlier in the press conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that over 400 million iOS devices have been sold to date.

He claims that even though the market has been flooded with tablets in the last year, the iPad now has 68% of the market share in the U.S., up 6% from a year ago.

What’s more, Cook says that iPads account for 91% of web traffic from tablets.

“I don’t know what these other tables are doing,” he zinged, “They must be in warehouses or on store shelves, or maybe in someone’s drawer.”