Apple announces iPhone 5, 4G LTE ability added

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Photo Credit: The Associated Press

It is risen.

Technocrats everywhere burst into digital chants of joy Wednesday afternoon as Apple finally announced the long-awaited iPhone 5 in a keynote at their Silicon Valley headquarters. The new iPhone, marketed as “the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone”, is slightly thinner and lighter than its previous iterations and features a vertically longer screen. It welcomes key improvements over the iPhone 4S such as 4G LTE technology, a new Apple A6 processing chip, and a brand-new charging system dubbed “Lightning”.

Different from the 30-pin charging setup currently used on iPads, iPhones, and iPods, Lightning is an all digital, simplified, and thinner charger– 80% smaller than previous ones. Meant to match the smaller size of the new iPhone, Lightning also promises an improved durability and reversibility which users of the current charger will surely appreciate. Apple is also offering a $30 Lightning adapter to current Apple users with 30-pin cables, so as to reduce clutter from several cords and increase adaptability.

Early adapters and later consumer waves can expect an improved web-browsing experience with the phone’s 4G LTE chip, which, combined with the phone’s CDMA chip, is a breakthrough simplification that would make Steve Jobs proud. Meaning “long term evolution”, LTE is a step up from already zippy 4G technology that the iPhones 4 and 4S featured. Apple boasts faster connection speeds with LTE than a home’s wifi connection. However, while LTE is certainly an improvement, data speeds will also depend on service providers and their network’s coverage.

Along with the iPhone, Apple unleashed a new processing chip, the A6. According to Senior Vice President Bob Mansfield, “[the chip] delivers performance up to two times faster than the previous processor,” to be noted especially when using apps with high frame rates and/or heavy graphics loaded with detail. Efficiency is also stressed, as the improved performance of the processor does not come at the expense of battery life. This appeases app aficionados, who would never want to compromise portability with decreased power supply.

The overall handle-ability of the phone remains relatively user-friendly. Although it is longer the iPhone’s width remains the same, making it easy to keep a grip and type with one hand whilst having an increased display space to keep sight on the phone’s operations. The design does not change much, keeping the aluminum unibody style with the glass screen front. The back of the phone has a lightly textured feel to it, catering to slippery hands and distracted grips. And iOS 6, the new software that the iPhone 5 will carry (available for download September 19) promises to integrate with the iPhone seamlessly, something Apple has a proven track record with and keeps pursuing. Another integration is Apple’s own Maps application, which shies away from working with Google Maps. That as well as the seeming lack of a Youtube app out-of-the-box is the latest move in Apple’s separation from Google; a separation whose result is yet to be seen.

Whatever it may be, the competition will undoubtedly yield some interesting products. For now, those enchanted by the iPhone 5 can pre-order the device on Apple’s website, to be shipped and released to the public on September 21. Three major carriers, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon, will offer the phone with a base price of $199 for a 16GB model. New, yes. Innovative, kind of. With the iPhone 5, Apple pulls all the expected stops for a new device: the faster processor, lighter design, bigger screen, and even some whose benefit other than a change of style, is yet to be determined- Lightning. Nevertheless, the iPhone seems to fall short of Apple’s usual role in breaking ground around the world’s technoscape. Maybe shying away from the ridiculous vanity in “the biggest thing to happen to the iPhone since iPhone” and thinking outside their well-designed box would help the bitten fruit folks in California get back on track. In the end, the iPhone 5 is just another hand-sized slate that will be obsolete and forgotten in a couple of years.