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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Apple iPhone 5 Keynote Breakdown...(Updated)

Every iPhone user with (or without) a contract upgrade has been waiting for this announcement for a long time. Yes, Apple has unveiled their new iPhone 5. Contrary to rumors suggesting that Apple mobile devices (such as iPhone and iPad) will no longer receive generational numbers, the new iPhone is in fact called the iPhone 5.

Since I own the iPhone 4 and my two-year contract has been up since June 2012 (two years since iPhone 4's release date) I am anxious to get my hands on the new device. So let's get down to business and outline the new iPhone 5 in some serious detail! Just to preface, the iPhone 5 is 7.6mm thick (18% thinner than the 4S) and 112 grams (20% lighter than 4S) - now that is pretty neat! Here is a look at the new iPhone 5.

A (Slightly) Larger Screen

The biggest and most anticipated change to the new iPhone 5 is the 4" screen. We all knew this was coming, especially if you have been following the rumor-mill about Apple manufacturing orders. This is no where near the 4.8" screen on the Samsung Galaxy S III. But really, we wanted a bigger screen that still fits in our pockets, not necessarily a phone that is too big to be comfortably portable.

The new larger retina display is true16:9 panorama (wide screen) with 44% more color saturation and 1136x640 (or 72,320) pixels at 326 ppi. This is a nice upgrade from what we have all been used to, but I know some people will complain that it is not larger. Personally, I would have liked a 4.3" or 4.5" screen, but I'll take the 4" retina.

Of course apps will have to be updated to fit the new screen and until the app designers do so, apps designed for the 3.5" screen will be displayed in letter box format.

4G LTE... Finally...

Yes, we finally get a 4G iPhone. Apple has been WAY behind the curve with this feature as 4G has been around for several years now. The iPhone 5 not only has High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) and Duel Cell HSDPA for 3G but it has added Long Term Evolution (LTE) or 4G connection speeds. The phone can switch automatically between antenna connections and they claim that the phone will always give you the best connection possible via antenna switching.

The iPhone 5 is worth purchasing for this new feature alone. A world phone with 4G LTE no matter where you are. It's not really that impressive due to the fact that most iPhone competitors have has 4G for quite some time and if the iPhone 5 didn't have this update everyone would most likely question how competitive the product would be. But nevertheless 4G comes to iPhone! The antenna is also much smaller on a single chip.

The Wi-Fi is updated as well with 802.11 a/b/g/n with up to 150Mbps speeds! Another nice addition, but no where near groundbreaking.

Hardware... A6 Chip is Awesome!

The iPhone 5 has a new A6 processor which they claim is 2 times faster (specifically, that it loads web pages 2.1 times faster) than the A5. It is still a duel-core chip and Apple has yet to reveal its actual speed. They also claim 2 times faster graphics which are built to "console quality", which I took to mean as good as a PS3 or Xbox 360. There really wasn't much more to say about the A6 chip until just recently. Apple simply didn't make a big deal about it but now we have more information. The chip is a duel-core Coretex AR-15 which is best of the ARM build processors. This is actually a major innovation and explains how Apple was able to get 2x speeds from the chip - an upgrade from AR-9 to Ar-15. This is impressive! Read more here

The battery life is a little more than slightly better. We get 8 hours of 3G talk, 225 hours standby, 10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing, 8 hours of LTE browsing, 10 hours of video, and 40 hours of music. To be sure, we will have to see what users get on an average day of use. Right now I charge my iPhone 4 each and every night and only occasionally does my phone die before the day is over. It seems like the new battery life will be pretty similar.

The camera is also slightly better but pretty similar to the iPhone 4S. It is still 8MP iSight but it is smaller with a f/2.4 aperture. The pictures are 3264x2448 (or 7,990,272) pixels and the camera has 40% faster photo capture. It also has spatial noise reduction, precision lens alignment, and sapphire crystal construction (no more scratches to the lens). But the fact remains the camera update is nothing to get all that excited about - although the panorama mode is pretty awesome. The video feature is still 1080p and the front facing camera is now 720p. Plus, Facetime is 30% less blurry and can be used over cellular - that is a great upgrade! 

The microphones are now at the bottom, front, and back; the speaker is supposed to be smaller and better sounding with a change from three to five transducers; and the earpiece is noise cancelling on both sending and receiving ends. The new iPhone also has something called "wide-band audio" which is supposed to use more of the spectrum bandwidth and a better high-fidelity VoIP. These are also nice upgrades.

The Death of the 30-Pin and Birth of the 8-Pin Connector

As most Apple iPhone users I have acquired a lot of accessories for my devices over time. I have owned an iPhone since 3G. I have 4 docking stations, a car audio receiver with the 30-pin connector built-in, over 10 spare 30-pin to USB cords, several car chargers, and several travel and home chargers. Now most of these have a USB connector so that I can use them with the new smaller 8-pin Lightning, but I will still need to continue to transfer the single Lighting to USB cord from charger to charger. of course, Apple is selling a Lighting to 30-pin adapter FOR $29.99! That is outrageous and means that if I want all 4 docks to work with my new iPhone it will cost me about $120 before tax. It is going to take a long time to acquire all the new accessories I have for the 30-pin for the 8-pin. I don't even think the phone comes with an adapter in the box.

The new connector is digital and it is reversible - and probably faster - but it is still a massive inconvenience. I am not happy about this transition. Why is this such a big deal? Well I use my iPhone for pretty much everything music related in my life. I listen to my Sirius radio on it in the morning while I get ready for work. I purchased a special dock just for the bathroom! There goes $29.99. I use my iPhone as my alarm and yes I purchased a dock for the bedroom - another $29.99. Wait, I also have a dock in my office - $29.99. And a dock in the kitchen - $29.99. Will I actually buy adapters for all these docks? Nope. I will most likely just use my (now Wi-Fi only) 3G and 4 devices on the old docks and begin looking for a new one with Lightning. I will also need a new travel charger and I can go on and on - not to mention my just purchased iPad uses the 30-pin connector - so now when I travel I will need to carry two types of charging cords with me. I am not a fan of the new connector and I will not be a fan of it until my transition is complete. Thanks for letting me vent... :) Anyway, in the end the smaller connector will bring good things to updated devices; it is only in the short-term that this will be rather annoying.

Select Software Updates to Note

The new 3D Apple Maps is awesome! The aerial view and turn-by-turn directions are great updates. However, it looks like walking, subway, and public transportation directions that we had with Google Maps will be left of the iOS 6 update. I hope Apple gets on that soon because I used those features a lot and will be sad to see them go.

The notification center is improved, Siri has received more abilities and sports updates, and iCloud Tabs lets you access any open tabs on any device. Mail received a new VIP feature - which is nice - and with Photo Stream your friends get notified when you have taken pictures. There are over 200 new features in iOS 6 most of which were revealed at WWDC. 

Passbook But No NFC...

Passbook is a new feature in iOS 6 that collects information such as coupons, boarding passes, and gift cards into one place on the iPhone. This will allow the user to pay for a cup of coffee or use a gift card at their favorite store by using one's iPhone. But it still has no Near Field Communication (NFC) capability. NFC gives the phone the ability to establish radio communication with other phones in close proximity (easily trading contact information). This technology can also be used to make purchases with your phone by simply connecting to a point of sale communicator. This technology could literally make the iPhone your wallet, letting users change between credit, debit, and gift cards right from an application! I was really hoping for a contact-less payment system with the new iPhone but possibly we will get this in a year or two. 

Price and Release Date

The 16GB is $200, the 32GB is $300, and the 64GB is $400. It comes in both black and white - which are actually a type of two-tone design. 

We can begin to pre-order the phone on Friday, September 14th and the official release date is Friday, September 21st! iOS 6 can be downloaded on Wednesday, September 19th. The $29.99 Lightning to 30-Pin adapter is available to pre-order now, but it is already back-ordered into October. 

The keynote also gave us a new look at the new iTunes, iPod Nano, and iPod Touch - which are some pretty nice upgrades. 

Some (More) Thoughts on the New Release

This release was no longer kind of lame in my opinion. The iPhone 5 has some really nice updates and I can definitely say "completely redesigned". The phone has a slightly screen with a  much better processor,  slightly better camera, better battery life, an annoying new connector, late arriving 4G LTE, and a new iOS with some cool but minimal updates. Nevertheless, the processor is the most important part of the phone because it makes everything else possible. With the A6 the experience should be fast... very fast!

I am sure some people will disagree but I still think the last few major keynotes have been minor compared to say, the iPhone 4 or iPad 2 releases. I know the hardcore Apple followers will rave about this new device being a breakthrough (and it is) - but just look at the Samsung Galaxy S III or some of the other smartphones on the market. Many of them have had may of the iPhone 5 specifications for quite some time now - not to mention, super-large screens, NFC, and a very capable Android OS. However, the big difference-maker with iPhone 5 will be the A6 chip - this will deliver performance on multiple levels and really make the iPhone 5 better than any other iPhone (possibly "phone") on the market today (as of right now). Outside of all the other minor upgrades, this is the one to get excited about!

I will be upgrading to the iPhone 5 and I am excited to be getting a new device but I am still not as impressed with Apple as I have been in the past (outside of the processor). Listen, I know that they will sell more iPhone 5 devices than then any of their previous releases. I know their market share will continue to grow. I know that this device will probably be rated the number one smartphone in the country by various tech websites. This may all happen. But I still think that this was lackluster "redesign", especially in regards to NFC and the Lightning dock connector.

Maybe once the phone is in my hand I will change my perception. Nevertheless, I am excited about the iPhone 5 release! Friday can't come fast enough! (UPDATE: - Yes I have Pre-Ordered!)