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Apple launches power-packed 4-inch iPhone 5 with 4G LTE; Nothing we haven't seen before

The wait is over; the curtains have been raised; lo and behold – here's the iPhone 5! But wait. Doesn't it look exactly the same as the leaked images that have been doing the rounds for so long? Unfortunately, yes. This is one thought that will repeatedly cross your mind while we take you through a close-up view of the device that Apple is claiming to be 'the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone.'

But before you get alarmed, let us clarify that we are not saying the smartphone hasn't lived up to expectations. We are merely stating that each and every aspect of the phone has turned out to be exactly the same as the rumours had it.

Without more ado, let us have a look at the specifications.

This time, the device sports a bigger 4 inch (diagonal) multi-touch retina display (1136×640 pixel resolution) with 326 pixels per inch (the same as iPhone 4S) and the company claims it has 44 per cent more colour saturation than the 3.5 inch screen of iPhone 4S. The longer size means that an additional 5th row of icons will be added to the home screen. But don't worry about how the old apps will look on a bigger screen. Instead of being stretched or scaled, those will get black borders on the sides.

The new iPhone is powered by the next-generation A6 chip that is smaller in size (compared to the A5 chip) but still provides 2x faster CPU and 2x faster graphics. As far as internal memory goes, Apple has stuck to the same 16, 32 and 64 GB combination.

The smartphone features an 8 megapixel autofocus rear camera with LED flash (we were hoping for a 12 MP one) that is thinner and better than the one in iPhone 4S (although that one is also 8 MP). The camera comes with five-element lens, f/2.4 aperture, a dynamic low-light mode and has a sapphire crystal lens cover. It can also record 1080p high definition videos (at 30 frames per second) and comes with improved video stabilisation and face detection.

Additionally, photo capture is now 40 per cent faster than iPhone 4S. You can also take snapshots while video-recording (guess they took a cue from their competitors) while a new feature lets you capture panoramic pictures (already possible in iPhone 4S with third party apps). The front-facing camera has also been bumped up to a 1.2 MP camera that can record HD videos at 720p. Moreover, FaceTime is no longer limited to Wi-Fi, which means you can now make FaceTime calls over cellular networks.

As for connectivity, the device has Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G LTE (a new addition). It measures 123.8mm x 58.6mm x 7.6mm and weighs 112 gm. And that means iPhone 5 is 20 per cent lighter and 18 per cent thinner than its predecessor (which is kind of amazing), making it the thinnest and the lightest of phones Apple has ever built (at least that's what the company claims).

Additionally, the new battery will provide up to 8 hours of talk time on 3G, 10 hours of video and Wi-Fi browsing, 40 hours of music and 225 hours of standby time. The new smartphone is entirely made of glass and aluminum, and it will come in black-and-slate and white-and-silver colours. Although these hues are chic and soothing, the strips at the top and the bottom of the device at the back (they don't match the new slate and silver finish) are a little bugging.

The audio has been scaled up as well. The smartphone will now sport three microphones (one more than the iPhone 4S), one each at the front, back and bottom. Apple has ditched the 30-pin connecter (that had been around for almost a decade) in favour of an 80 per cent smaller connecter called 'Lightning' that can be plugged both sides. The company has also removed Google Maps from iOS6 and added its own mapping app with a 3D mode instead. Plus, there are improvements to Siri including a new feature that lets you post directly to Facebook (nice). The headphone jack has been shifted to the bottom and finally, the device will support a nano-SIM that is even smaller than the micro-SIM used in the iPhone 4S.

Pricing and availability

Apple will start iPhone 5 pre-orders from Friday and will start shipping the device from September 21, 2012. It will be initially available in nine countries including the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, followed by 22 more countries a week later (by September 28). The company has also mentioned that the device will be available in 100 countries by the end of this year (so don't be surprised to see it in India as well), making it the fastest iPhone rollout.

The smartphone has been priced like its predecessor – at $199, $299 and $399 for the 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB versions respectively (under a contract). The 16 GB iPhone 4S is now available for $99 while iPhone 4 is available for free (again under contract).

If you want a thorough comparison of the device with the iPhone 4S, read our detailed coverage of the same here.

Also, there's good news for existing iPhone users as you can get your hands on iOS 6 from September 19 (note that its compatibility ends with iPhone 3GS), which is also the date set for the launch of the new apps store.

All in all, it is an excellent device (note that we are not using the term mind-blowing) and considering it's pricing that should lie in the same Rs 45,000-Rs 60,000 range as the iPhone 4S, it is definitely worth the buy. It's just that we expected more from a company that has been pleasantly surprising us since 2007 (when the first iPhone was launched). After all, everything from the design of the iPhone 5 to the connecter and the specifications are exactly what had been already predicted.

(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)

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