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Apple unveils new iPhone 5, launches in Australia on September 21

By Patrick Stafford
Thursday, 13 September 2012

A thinner, faster and larger version of the iPhone, a new range of iPods and a completely rewritten update of iTunes were all unveiled as part of Apple’s annual product update keynote this morning.


Most of the predictions for the new iPhone turned out to be correct: it features a four-inch Retina screen, a faster processer and a two-tone design.


And in a move that’s set to make Australians very happy, the iPhone 5 will feature global 4G. That means unlike the iPad controversy from earlier this year, the iPhone 5 will connect to Australian 4G networks.


Australia will also be one of the first countries to receive the new iPhone, which will launch next Friday, September 21, alongside the United States, Canada, Britain, France and Germany.


There are plenty of new announcements including the new-sized dock “lightning” connector, and the completely rewritten version of iTunes to be launched next month.


Here’s everything you need to know about today’s announcement, including all the details on the new products:


iPhone 5 


The biggest change in the iPhone 5 is the larger screen. Apple has upgraded the 3.4-inch display to a four-inch screen with a resolution of 1136x640, in line with expectations.


But there have also been several cosmetic changes. It’s entirely made of glass and aluminium, and features a two-tone design that was the subject of many of the leaks over the past several months.


It’s also extremely thin, 18% thinner than the iPhone 4S, and at 112 grams it’s also 20% lighter. The whole point of the redesign is so Apple can provide “much more room to work and play”, although the smartphone industry’s move towards a larger screen has obviously nudged the company in this direction.


However, it says the screen isn’t so big that you can’t operate it with one hand. It’s meant to fit comfortably.


Apps won’t stretch or scale to the larger screen, so newly designed apps will fit the screen if developers choose, but existing apps will be letterboxed. There are some new upgrades to the screen as well, including integrated touch sensors and 44% more colour saturation.


One of the biggest changes is the new dock connector. Having used the old version since 2003, Apple now says the “lightning” connector is much faster, and 80% smaller. It’s also reversible, meaning you don’t have to put it in a specific way for it to work.


In a big move, the iPhone will also feature global 4G. Australians will be able to connect to the 4G networks being rolled out by Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, along with any other carrier. Wi-Fi has also been given an upgrade, so downloads will be much faster on wireless internet networks.


A good 4G connection can be faster than a home Wi-Fi network.


Inside, Apple didn’t reveal full specs but said the new A6 chip will make the phone twice as fast, with graphics power also doubled – with an output similar to games consoles, according to senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller.


And in a win for Australian developers, Firemonkeys, (formerly Firemint), chief executive Robert Murray took to the stage to show off the company’s new game, Real Racing 3.


The new battery also provides an estimate eight hours of 3G talk time, and 225 hours of standby time.


There’s also a new camera, with an eight megapixel sensor and a stronger, sapphire crystal lens. It also features 40% faster photo capture.


There are three microphones built in used for voice recognition, and a noise cancelling earpiece. As was expected, there was no inclusion of an NFC chip. Such a move would have been seen as a step towards contactless payments.


The new iPhone will cost:


$AU799 for 16GB, $AU899 for 32GB and $AU999 for 64GB. Previous models will also drop in price, with a 4S now available starting at $AU679 for 16GB. Preorders will start from tomorrow, although customers will still have to wait and see whether the major carriers provide deals of their own.

iOS 6


Most of the features of iOS 6 were announced earlier this year. They include the new maps product, (which will boost Google Maps as the native maps program), updates to the Safari browser, social networking integration and the Passbook app to store commerce cards and tickets.


There have been several improvements to Siri as well, with the ability to now launch apps – including the ability to post to Facebook.

There are also a variety of other features including Facetime over 3G connections, updates to the phone app, VIP mail and better privacy settings. The full rundown of features can be read here.


The iOS 6 update will be released on September 19, and it’s a free upgrade.


iTunes 11 - a complete rewrite 

Music is still a huge part of Apple. Tim Cook said on stage the music business is “deeply embedded in our DNA”, and it shows in sales – there have already been 20 billion songs purchased on iTunes.


There have been rumours for years now that Apple was working on a new, faster version of iTunes. It unveiled that update today.


The new iTunes store on the iPad features integrated Facebook sharing options, and a much better searching system.

But the biggest update is iTunes 11 for desktop.

The whole software has been completely redesigned, getting rid of the sidebar. The interface is different and it integrates with iCloud. Overall, it looks much more like the iOS version than the previous desktop version.

There’s also a new miniplayer.


iCloud brings a few new features, including the ability to keep track of your content across devices. You start watching or listening to something on one device, and another device will pick up from where you left off.


The new software will be available in late October. 


New iPod updates


Apple is still in the iPod business, and updated its range today with a new, seventh-generation Nano.


The new Nano looks more like the thinner, longer version of the Nano from a few years ago. It features an aluminium body, 5.4mm thick and a plastic casing. It also features the largest screen ever seen in a Nano at 2.5 inches, and large volume and play buttons.


It looks much more like an iPod Touch than a Nano, with a multi-touch screen. 


And speaking of the iPod Touch, that’s been given an update is well with a four-inch Retina display. It’s also the thinnest iPod Touch, at 6.1mm, and weighs just 88 grams.


The new iPod Touch also runs the A5 chip, which is the first dual-core processor to come to the iPod. A new battery gives 40 hours of music, a new lens provides a five megapixel camera. There’s also a small hook on the iPod to add a small lanyard.


One big announcement was the addition of Siri to the iPod Touch, with all the same features as Siri provides on the iPhone.


Both the iPod Touch and Nano will be available in a variety of different colours.


New headphones


There was a rumour Apple was working on new headphones, and it turned out to be correct. In fact, Apple said these headphones are so important to the company they’ve been in design for the last three years.


They’re designed to direct sound right into the ear, and are available today. They may not seem like a big update, but the iconic Apple headphones have been a big part of the success of the iPod – any change won’t have been taken lightly.


…and some statistics for good measure


Apple always rolls out some statistics along with its key product updates. Here are just a few Tim Cook confirmed this morning:

  • There have been 17 million new iPads sold between April-June. In total, 84 million iPads have been sold through June. It claims a 68% market share, with 91% of web traffic.
  • Apple now has 435 million accounts on file – each one of those accounts has one-click purchase capability.
  • Mountain Lion has been downloaded seven million times.
  • The app store is growing, with 700,000 and 250,000 dedicated for the iPad. Average customer uses over 100 apps.
  • Last quarter Apple reached 400 million iOS devices sold.

This story first appeared on SmartCompany.

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