Apple unveils iPhone 5

Last updated 10:54 13/09/2012
Reuters

The iPhone 5 is better than its predecessor but not as good as some rivals.

Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple, speaks about iPhone 5 pricing.
Reuters Zoom
Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple, speaks about iPhone 5 US pricing. Kiwis will pay up to $1350 if they don't want to commit to a plan.
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Kiwis will be able to buy Apple's new iPhone 5, unveiled this morning, in two weeks.

The wraps were taken off what is the fastest, thinnest iPhone, at an event in San Francisco.

It sports a 4-inch "retina" display, ability to surf a high-speed 4G LTE wireless network, and is 20 per cent lighter than the previous iPhone 4S.

The iPhone 5, which runs Apple's latest operating system iOS 6 - features more than 200 new features, the company says.

It goes on sale in selected countries on September 21, and will be available in New Zealand on September 28.

It will carry a recommended retail price here of $1049 for the 16GB model, $1199 for the 32GB model and $1349 for the 64GB model. Vodafone and Telecom will both sell the phone.

The release of the new phone sees the iPhone 4S and 4 drop in price. They will be available for a recommended retail price of $899 (4S) and $599 (4).

While the new iPhone has been listed for as little as US$199 in the US, this will most likely be in conjunction with a contract plan from a telecommunications provider.

The new phone will come in black and white.

Following the announcement, shares in Apple ended the day up 1.4 per cent at US$669.79.

NEW PROCESSOR

The iPhone 5 comes with Apple's newest "A6" processor, which executives claimed runs twice as fast as the previous generation.

The new iPhone has three microphones instead of two. They are located on the back, the front and the bottom. It also comes with a noise-cancelling earpiece for better sound.

The phone will have a battery with eight hours of talk time and eight hours of web browsing.

NEW CAMERA

It will have an 8-megapixel camera, with special features to eliminate noise in images and perform better in low light. There's also a feature that lets you stitch multiple images of a landscape for a panoramic view.

NEW CONNECTOR

One big change: The iPhone is getting a new connector to attach to computers and chargers.

It had been using the same one from the iPod. Senior Apple executive Phil Schiller says the old connector has "served us well for nearly a decade, but so much has changed."

That means the new iPhone won't be compatible with old accessories, though Schiller says accessory makers are already working to update their products. Apple will sell an adapter to work with older accessories.

IMPROVED SIRI

Siri is supposed to get better at fielding questions about movies, restaurants and other things. Apple is partnering with OpenTable Inc to make reservations, for instance.

The new software also has a better tie-in with Facebook. You can talk to Siri to post a status update.

Siri will now be available in more languages and more countries.

Apple also says it's working with car manufacturers to let you use a button on the steering wheel to talk to Siri, allowing you to keep your hands on the road.

Apple says General Motors, BMW and Daimler's Mercedes are among the automakers that have promised to offer Siri integration in the next 12 months.

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NEW EMAIL, PASSBOOK

The new phone's software - iOS 6 - promises enhancements to email. You can deem certain people "VIPs" and flag emails from them so you can go back to them more easily.

Apple has also demonstrated Passbook, a central place to keep your boarding passes, tickets and gift cards.

The new software also has a better tie-in with Facebook. You can talk to Siri to post a status update.

And Facetime video calls will work over cellular networks for the first time. It had been limited to Wi-Fi connections.

MAPS

The iPhone 5 - and Apple's mobile devices running iOS 6 - will have a mapping program, built in-house.

In the past, Apple has given prominent billing to Google's mapping app. But the two companies have increasingly become rivals as people buy more devices running Google's Android operating system. Google also has been keeping some features, including turn-by-turn directions spoken aloud, exclusive to Android.

Apple's new Maps application will have a voice navigation feature. It will have real-time traffic data and offer alternative routes as traffic conditions change.

It will also include "flyover" three-dimensional images taken by helicopters hired by the company to fly over major cities. Google has been dispatching its own planes to produce similar 3D images.

Apple's map program will be integrated with its Siri virtual assistant so that you can ask for directions and pose other questions.

FACEBOOK

The iPhone 5's new iOS 6 software promises better integration with Facebook.

It will enable you to log into Facebook just once, and then you will be able to post to the social network from a variety of apps. You can also post about websites directly from Apple's Safari browser.

Siri will be there to post status updates you dictate to her. Siri will show you what she's going to post so you can correct typos before you approve it.

Facebook will be integrated with Apple's online app store so that you can declare that you "like" specific apps there, as well as songs and movies in iTunes.

Events in Facebook's calendar and birthdays of Facebook friends will also appear on your phone's calendar.

CALL FEATURES

Don't want to be disturbed? Apple's new software will give you more options for preventing messages and text notifications from disturbing you at night, for instance.

You can control how and when you get back to people. If you can't call someone back right away, you can set a reminder to call that person back later or have a text message sent directly to the caller.

There's a "call when you leave" feature that reminds you to call back when you are leaving a building or office. The phone can detect when you are leaving.

iOS 6

Older phones will get Apple iOS 6 upgrade for free next Thursday (NZT). Apple has said it will be available for the 3GS, 4 and 4S models, though some new features won't work on them.

It will also be available on last year's and this year's iPad models and newer iPod Touch devices.

SIRI FOR IPAD, IPOD TOUCH, NEW 'EARPODS'

Siri, the virtual assistant launched on the iPhone last year, is coming to the iPod Touch for the first time. Apple already has said Siri will appear on the iPad with the new software update.

Meanwhile, the iconic white earbuds are getting an update. Now called earpods, they sport an earpiece that is more cylindrical.

Apple says they were built to meld to the shape of your ear.

The earpods will go on sale as a stand-alone accessory and will be included with new devices out in October.

IPOD TOUCH TWEAKED, NEW NANO

Apple is updating the iPod Touch - essentially an iPhone without the ability to make calls. Like the new iPhone and the new iPod Nano, it will use the new connector, which Apple calls Lightning.

It will have a 5-megapixel camera and the same panorama feature as the new iPhone. It will be possible to edit photos on the Touch for the first time.

Apple is also refreshing its iPod Nano.

The seventh generation of the device is thinner than the previous one, with a bigger display.

It now has a home button similar to that on the iPhone and the iPad. It also will come with Bluetooth wireless capability, allowing you to stream music.

ITUNES UPGRADE

Apple also unveiled a new version of its iTunes software for traditional computers.

There are new ways to create playlists and to decide what to listen to next. It also promises improved search - as you type the name of an album, for instance, those in your music library will be suggested.

The iTunes software comes with a new mini player - a small window from which you can play songs while you are still in your music library.

The new software will come out in late October.

- Stuff.co.nz, Reuters, AP, SMH

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