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Each successive Apple iPhone that rolls out is a nipped and tucked offshoot of the previous model – with modifications that keep getting more and more sophisticated. However, in its fifth installment, is the iPhone 5 merely a retouched version of its predecessor?
At 7.6mm, Apple’s new baby is the world’s thinnest smartphone. And if you thought the 960×640 resolution of the iPhone 4 didn’t play up the subtleties in your photos and videos quite enough, the newcomer’s 4-inch screen features a 1136×640 resolution Retina display. Each pixel doubles as a touch-sensing electrode, a departure from the double-layered touch screens of old that feature touch sensors below the pixel display. It is this clever quirk that enables the iPhone 5 to weigh a wispy 112 grams.
The A6 chip and iOS 6 mobile operating system join forces to deliver “twice the CPU and graphics performance,” claims the press release. Always striving to be superlative, Apple has created the first smartphone with LTE wireless capabilities, which support speeds of up to 150Mbps – a godsend for those who enjoy streaming movies on the go.
Critics have marveled at the ‘Panorama’ feature of the gadget’s 8 megapixel iSight camera, which “stitches” sequences of shots together to form a 240 degree photograph by swiping the phone across a scene. Furthermore, the camera’s sapphire crystal lens is more scratch-resistant and dust-deflecting than the iPhone 4’s standard glass lens. The 1.2 megapixel front-facing FaceTime camera is supported by cellular wideband audio that cancels background noise for clearer video calls.
Apple has bumped off Google Maps, supplanting it for software of its own that features real-time traffic data and turn-by-turn navigation. 3D rendering of major cities and tourism hotbeds is, for the most part, reliable; however, picture quality tends to deviate as users navigate away from these sites.
What the World Says
Despite Apple’s uncanny ability to stretch the iPhone’s product life cycle, technology experts are divided between the impressed and the skeptical. As the first iPhone to feature a 4G network, the iPhone 5 is “playing catch-up with other smartphones on the market,” according to David Bottomley, Business Editor of TODAY. The Economist rates the iPhone 5 a “five out of ten,” dismissing its new advances as “incremental changes.”
The new ‘Lightning’ dock connector has also caused considerable contention, as it renders the charging cables, car adapters and docks of previous models incompatible – unless users purchase the cable or plug adapter for $39 and $29 respectively. “These adapters should not be a profit center for Apple; they should be a gesture of kindness to those of us who’ve bought accessories based on the old connector,” wrote David Pogue in The New York Times.
These minor grievances notwithstanding, analysts have predicted sales of 10-12 million units this September, with stocks for online preorders having depleted within the hour of its 12:01am opening on September 14.
Should users of the iPhone 4 switch to the iPhone 5?
Apple idolaters will no doubt trade their iPhone 4 for the newbie – by no means a shortchange – however, those who watched Wednesday’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live may hesitate. ABC crew took to the streets to ask passersby to test the “new iPhone 5.” Subjects were handed the iPhone 4S, presumed to be the iPhone 5, and asked to compare. Not one person surmised the hoax. “Oh my God, it feels a lot lighter and more high quality!” one man enthused. Three others made remarks about its “superior” speed. One woman took out her iPhone 4, held it up next to the fake iPhone and nodded. “Yeah, that one’s definitely faster.”
While the spoof may have been a hilarious TV moment, audiences began to realize how media hype and trendsetting informs much of Apple’s brand loyalty. In a move that might seem self-effacing, Apple is enabling the iOS 6, the operating system which distinguishes the iPhone 5, to be downloaded for free onto previous models of the iPhone.
The iPhone 5 retails in the USA, UK and Canada on September 21.