And finally it has arrived. In what is the biggest gadget release of the year, last week Apple unveiled its latest toy amid huge speculation and conjecture. The iPhone 5 was revealed at a press conference with the tag line, ''The biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone.'' Indeed, Apple has created its own world with the iPhone range and is the envy of the market, but competitors such as Samsung and Nokia have thrown down challengers with releases such as the Galaxy S III and the Lumina 900, respectively. But Apple is a mighty competitor. So, was it worth the wait, and can Apple release a phone without Steve Jobs at the helm? Let's take a peak.
At first glance, the iPhone 5 isn't all that different to the 4S. The points Apple is bragging about are that it's 18% thinner at a wafer-like 7.6mm and 20% lighter at 112g. In this world of nano-gains, these are impressive stats in anyone's language. While its width remains unchanged at 58.6mm, it has been stretched to 123.8mm to accommodate the new screen, which grows to 4in. This also means the resolution has been stretched to 1,136x640 (from 960x640), but the app developers shouldn't take too long to catch up. It also incorporates an integrated touch layer and is even clearer than the dazzling Retina display on the 4S.
The materials of the phone again feel premium in the hand. The headphone socket is now at the bottom, which shouldn't take too much adjusting to.
The other big design change is the Dock Connector, which replaces the cumbersome 30-pin connector of older models. This means new cables for everyone, although Apple is selling a converter cable for a reasonable US$35 (1,090 baht).
The micro SIM has been replaced with a nano SIM, just to save those precious nanometres inside. This proprietary size means that users will be dependent on vendors to convert their existing SIMs to the new format.
The average headphones of earlier releases have been replaced with EarPods, which seal out external noise and are said to have improved sound quality.
Inside the engine room, a new A6 processor provides the grunt for the bigger screen. Apple is being a little cagey about the details, but in the blogosphere the chip has been said to smooth performance. But the main handling change comes with the new operating system, iOS 6.
The new system features better Facebook integration, which has been sorely lacking, and an impressive new Maps app with a 3D feature that enables a fly-over of a city. It also offers Facetime over a mobile network, but will roll out more slowly in Thailand due to the lack of infrastructure.
We won't be able to benefit from the LTE technology here just yet since there is no 4G network available. (Even Myanmar now has 3G connectivity in parts of Yangon).
AVAILABILITY AND PRICE
The phone will officially ship in the US and other selected countries on Friday, and is already available for pre-order online in these places for eligible customers. Singapore and Hong Kong are included in the first release batch, which means the phone will trickle into Bangkok quickly enough, before it is officially released in Thailand (slated for December).
In the US, pricing has been set to the old scale of the 4S, while the 4S has come down, predictably enough. In Singapore the 5 starts at S$948 (24,000 baht) for the 16GB model, $1,088 for 32GB and $1,238 for 64GB, all unlocked. We expect Thai prices to be similar.
It's a great phone. Apple has stood up to the pressure and hype and delivered arguably the best phone ever. But it's still an Apple phone. If you weren't warmed by the 4S then this won't convert you from Android or elsewhere either. But its reduced thickness and weight, new processor, bigger screen and new OS will immediately empty the wallets of plenty. Samsung and Nokia have their work cut out.
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