Apple Unveils Taller, Faster iPhone5—Called A ‘Jewel’

Phil Shiller

After all the waiting and speculating, Apple today finally unveiled the iPhone5, which is bigger and faster than its predecessor and which one Apple exec called “an absolute jewel.”

The big unveiling was held at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco and the anticipation around the world was palpable—a phenomenon unequaled anywhere else in the contemporary retail world.

Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook began by saying, “We’ve got some really cool stuff to show you.” He then gave updates on Apple Stores, MacBooks, OS X Mountain Lion and iPads. But that’s not what the crowd was waiting for. Cook left the dramatic moment to Apple senior vice president Phil Shiller, who took the stage to introduce the iPhone5.

“It’s an absolute jewel,” Shiller said.

At first glance, the iPhone5 isn’t a radical departure from previous models. It’s clearly taller and thinner, but looks the same. The new phone has a 4-inch 1,136 x 640 pixel display, 4G LTE connectivity, A6 chip and weighs 112 grams, which is 18 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter than iPhone 4S, if you’re keeping score.

The camera and iSight got the biggest upgrades. The camera now has an 8 megapixel sensor, 3,264 x 2,448 pixel resolution with backside illumination, hybrid IR filter, five-element lens, f2.4 aperture, is 25 percent smaller and can take panoramic photos. The iPhone5 video camera captures 1080p HD quality. Front-facing camera features 720p support, backside illuminated sensor, and FaceTime works over 3G with iOS 6.

The iPhone5 will also get a new dock connector, called Lightening, that is 80 percent smaller, has an adaptive interface, improved durability and is reversible. Apple said it will release an adaptor to allow users to make the transition.

As for the pricetag, iPhone5 will retail (in white or black) for $199 for 16GB mode, $299 for 32GB model and $399 for 64GB model.

You will be able to pre-order starting on Friday and the phone is expected in stores next Friday, Sept. 21, in the U.S, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. Additional countries will have access on Sept. 28.

And here’s some fine news for those of you who don’t need the newest of the new: the iPhone4 will now be free with a two-year contract and the iPhone 4S will drop to $99.

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