Apple said, “let there be an iPhone 5!” Thus, we have an iPhone 5. Those of you who didn’t know, Apple had scheduled their annual iPhone event for yesterday, September 12 – a full month ahead of last year’s event. The iPhone 5 is real and only managed to be leaked months ahead of its official arrival, but how does it fair as a whole?
Just half a decade ago, specs weren’t all that important to phones. Hell, I’d argue that specs weren’t important to Apple and the iPhone until just three years ago with the introduction of the iPhone 4. That’s all changed now, though. Android handset makers tout 4.65″ and 4.8″ displays, which also use top-of-the-line display technologies like AMOLED, SUPER AMOLED, SLCD, and SLCD2. On top of displays, Android handset makers also release phones with the latest ARM CPUs, decent GPUs, gigabytes of RAM, and some Android phones feature some of the best cameras in the game. With Windows Phone 8 on the rise and Android reaching a full stride, does Apple have what it takes to continue to compete in the mobile space? Let’s take a look at the next phone people will line up to get their hands on.
Display: The iPhone 5 features a 4″ Retina Display; Apple’s own custom extremely dense, yet thin, mobile display. With a resolution of 1136×640 it packs over 700,000 pixels in and is the most saturated display Apple has put in the iPhone line. To be exact, it’s about 44% more saturated than the iPhone 4S’ display. In fact, it’s so saturated that Apple is calling it the most accurate display on the market. How does the iPhone’s Retina Display get so thin? The rumors say that Apple’s been tapping Sharp’s back for some of their IGZO display tech which laminates the cover glass to the actual display. No gap in the display, sharper image, less glare, and thinner than ever. That is Apple’s new 4” Retina Display.
SoC (System on a Chip): The iPad debuted what some of us thought would be the iPhone 5′s SoC, the A5X. The A5X is a dual-core A9 CPU with the quad-core variant of the PowerVR SGX543 GPU. After some much-needed thought, some speculators figured that the SGX543MP4 is complete overkill for the iPhone’s resolution size, even if the phone received a bigger display. What did we get? Who knows. Apple has always been straight forward with the CPU + GPU combos that they pack in the iOS devices, however, that’s not the case this time around. The only thing we know about the A6 in the iPhone 5 is that it’s supposed to be 2x the performance in the CPU department and 2x the performance in the GPU department. Apple could be using a fresh off the grill dual-core A15 CPU – not to be confused with the A6, Apple’s SoC – or a quad-core version of the cortex A9. They could have also just as easily clocked the CPU and GPU chips in the A5 a lot higher and slapped on an A6 sticker.
GPU (Extended): It was important to cover what may have been in the A6 SoC, but I wanted to extend some extra time for the iPhone 5’s mystery GPU because Apple spent a pretty good amount of time showing off what the GPU can do including Real Racing 3, a sequel to the beautiful Real Racing 2. The demo is just unbelievable. Cars are an alarming amount of detail including real-time rear-view mirrors: the mirrors actually display the cars that are behind you. Considering that no handheld racing games are doing this, I’d say that’s a pretty big deal. Apple is claiming 2x better graphics for the iPhone 5, could that actually be true?
RAM: This, too, is also unknown. It has been said that the iPhone 5 will feature 1GB of RAM, but Apple has not graced us with a specific answer for this component. If the new iPad is any indication, the new iPhone will have 1GB of RAM.
iSight Camera: Apple took that same 8MP sensor in the iPhone 4S and squeezed it in the new, sleeker iPhone 5 body. At first glance, this is kind of disappointing, but after further review, I can see why a 10-12MP camera would have compromised the thinness of the phone. There were a couple enhancements including better low-light performance and a new sapphire crystal lens. The test shots shown during the presentation did look quite impressive, if you ask me. The images looked even better than the iPhone 4S despite being the same megapixel count. In addition to the iSight enhancements, Apple is debuting Panorama for iPhone.
FaceTime Camera: Apple’s FaceTime camera has also increased in resolution. The camera itself is very simple. It’s a 1.2MP shooter and records in glorious high definition, 720p. It is now also has a backside illuminated sensor for better low-light performance and hopefully less grainy noise.
Cellular connection: Yes, yes, yes, the iPhone 5 is the first iPhone to carry the famous LTE chip. Theoretical download speeds reach 100Mb/s. That’s fast. Realistic speeds on AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint will most likely hover around 10Mb/s on a saturated network.
iOS 6: iPhone 5 launches with the most advanced version of iOS yet. iOS 6 plugs many holes that iOS was infamously known for. Features like turn-by-turn navigation make its way to iOS and Siri is now more knowledgable. iOS 6 wasn’t bursting at the seams with ways to interact with the OS, but Facebook and tweets can now be done through Notification Center, and Passbook allows users to rid themselves of all of those pesky girt cards, flight tickets, and other redeemable tickets.
I/O: Apple recently had a change of heart when viewing the standard 30-pin connector. It’s too big and carries legacy technology within it that is no longer needed in today’s iPhone world. The result of this burden is a complete redesign of the port. The 30-pin connector is out; the new Lightning port is in. It is an 8-pin, all-digital port with a snazzy, little-brother name derived from Thunderbolt – a port saved for Macs and PCs. In regards to the headphone jack, it’s the same, it’s just been moved to the bottom of the phone.
Design: Above all else the design is the single biggest change within the phone 5. The iPhone 5 sheds its rear glass panel from the iPhone 4S and takes on a tougher aluminum unibody shell. Filling up the top of the back of the device and the bottom of the back are small glass panels – windows, if you will. The top window houses the 8MP camera, flash sensor, and mic. It’s suspected that these pieces are needed to let all that Wi-Fi (Wee-Fee) and LTE connection. The front of the device is bare per usual but is dominated by the 4″ Retina Display. The FaceTime camera has been repositioned above the earpiece and towards the middle. Weighing in at 112 grams and achieving a gaunt look being 18% thinner than the 4S, the final result is quite magnificent.
So, in the end, a lot of what the iPhones 5 managed to be is a culmination of specs, bringing it on par with the current cream of the crop handsets, while retaining a strikingly thin frame. True, the iPhone may not be full of blinding-edge technology, but it manages to do what Apple tends to do best: it takes everything we thought we knew about mobile technology and iPhone-ifies it. Other phones match the iPhone in almost every way, but Apple manages to make the technical specifications look and act like something most of us can understand. iOS 6 doesn’t raise the bar past what we’ve come to expect in this day and age, but it enhances the already established iOS experience. The iPhone is big. Similarly, this is the biggest iPhone yet in its physical length. Only time will tell of this iPhone 5 is really truly deserving of the iPhone brand. The iPhone 5 will be available to pre-order on September 14th at 12:01a.m PDT and it launches on September 21st for $199, $299, and $399. What do you think? Is this the iPhone you’ve been waiting for?