Apple's New iPhone 5: Six Key Changes

 Apple

Apple announced an updated iPhone 5 today at a press event in San Francisco. 

The new phone retains the same prices as the old iPhone 4S ($199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, $399 for 64GB with a 2-year contract).  

But the iPhone 5 improves on the existing iPhone 4S in many ways.

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Here's six important changes to Apple's popular cell phone:

1. The new model features a taller 4-inch screen with a resolution of 640 x 1136 pixels (versus 3.5 inches and 640x960 on the current model).

2. The iPhone 5 ditches the traditional 30-pin dock connector Apple has used for nine years in favor of a new much smaller connector, about the size of a micro-USB plug, called Lighting.

The company touts that Lightning is 80 percent smaller, more durable and easier to use. Apple will sell an adapter turning the new dock into an old 30-pin one to allow the iPhone 5 to work with existing accessories and speakers.

3. At 7.6 mm and 112 grams in weight, the new iPhone is the thinnest and lightest model yet.

The added length allowed Apple to add a fifth row of icons on the home screen, in addition to the four shortcut buttons on the bottom. Apple also revised its own apps to take advantage of the extra screen space, with Calendar, for example, showing a full five-day workweek. Older apps will run letterboxed at 640x960, showing black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. The new screen, which is closer to the 16x9 dimension of widescreen movies means only a minimal amount of letterboxing. 

4. The new phone comes with advanced cellular technology, including 4G LTE, making it the fastest iPhone yet.

The company also touted its dynamic antenna technology that can switch internal antenna connections automatically to aid reception.

5. The phone also includes the new--and much faster--A6 processor chip, which has twice the graphics processing power of the previous generation A5 chip.

Even with the improvements to the display and processor chip, Apple touts an 8-hour battery life for 3G or LTE talk and browsing, increasing to 10 hours for just wifi use.

6. Apple improved the cameras and microphones on the new phone as well, the front-facing Facetime camera now records in 720p video and the phone has three microphones (front, bottom, back) for improved sound pick up.

iOs 6, Apple's latest mobile operating system, comes pre-installed on the iPhone 5. Among the changes are improvements to SIRI voice recognition, Facetime and the Safari web browser.

Another new feature called Passbook allows users to store tickets, coupons, membership cards and similar items electronically. 

The iPhone 5 starts shipping on Sept. 21. Apple will begin taking pre-orders on Sept. 14.

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