The iPhone 5 has finally launched and is already a commercial success. But no one should be surprised by its multi-million sales numbers: every year the arrival of a new Apple handset is greeted with increasing public fervour.
Many people will be asking themselves what makes the iPhone 5 so special, since this sixth generation model looks superficially similar to last year’s iPhone 4S and even 2010’s iPhone 4. Meanwhile the iOS software interface seems almost identical to that which appeared on the original iPhone back in 2007.
The first distinguishing facet of the iPhone 5 is its touchscreen display. It measures four inches across the diagonal, a significant increase from the 3.5 inch panels that have been present from day one.
The screen is not actually wider than that of the iPhone 4S, but it does give the handset extra length, which when translated into a landscape orientation allows for a full 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. In layperson’s terms, this means that you can watch widescreen video clips without the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen, which was a limitation with the iPhone 4S’ 4:3 display.
With a resolution of 640 x 1136 the iPhone 5’s screen is still classed as a Retina Display, sharing the same pixel density as the panel of the iPhone 4S. This means images appear crisp and clear, while the added room means that the home screen can now include an additional row of icons.
More improvements to the display, including in-cell touch technology, have allowed Apple to make the iPhone 5 both thinner and lighter than any of its predecessors. At 7.6mm thick it is easier to slip into your pocket than ever before, although the additional screen area means that the handset is a little longer.
Apple has equipped the iPhone 5 with a brand new A6 dual core processor, which supersedes the A5 chip found in the iPhone 4S. While the manufacturer tends to be cagey about performance figures, it has said that this new device has twice the processing and graphical power of the previous generation.
In terms of camera capabilities, the iPhone 5 sports an eight megapixel device on the back and an upgraded 1.2 megapixel front-facing unit. The latter can now shoot 720p HD video and will offer better quality FaceTime calls for the increasing number of people now using this service.
Apple endeavours to make its new operating systems backwards compatible with older version of the iPhone even if a new model is available, so the iPhone 5 is not unique in supporting the iOS 6 platform. However, because it boasts more power than its predecessors it will be able to deliver the definitive iOS 6 experience.
The Siri voice controlled assistant software has been updated for this version of iOS. It is far more accurate and functional than it was in previous iterations. Meanwhile the Apple Maps service, which replaces Google Maps for iOS 6, has been criticised by some, although future updates should address any limitations.
The iPhone 5 is without a doubt the best iPhone yet. It is sufficiently evolved to differentiate itself from the iPhone 4S while still sticking with a stylish, powerful formula.
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