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Apple unveils iPhone 5 at San Francisco event

Apple(AAPL) officially showed off the newest iteration of its wildly popular smartphone Wednesday morning in San Francisco, confirming that the iPhone 5 will be larger, lighter and faster while connecting to newer cellular networks among other new offerings.

Apple CEO Tim Cook got acolytes and analysts fired up at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, kicking off the unveiling of the first all-new Apple phone since the death of co-founder and longtime CEO Steve Jobs last year by telling the large crowd, "We've got some amazing things to show you." Apple marketing guru Phil Schiller followed Cook on stage for the official introduction, calling the iPhone 5 the "most beautiful device we've ever made." He immediately showed that the new iPhone will be taller than previous iterations, with a size of 4 inches instead of the previous 3.5 inches, allowing Apple to add a fifth row of icons to the home screen. The phone will be the thinnest and lightest iPhone yet despite the size change, with Schiller saying the iPhone 5 is 20 percent lighter than the iPhone 4S at 112 grams.

Schiller then expounded on the technical abilities of the iPhone, which will connect with 4G, or LTE, cellular networks as well as HSPA+ and dual-band Wi-Fi-n.

The phone has an A6 chip that will double the speed of the CPU and graphics, which Apple demonstrated by having Rob Murray of Redwood City gaming company Electronic Arts come out on stage to show off a racing game on the device. IDC analyst Al Hilwa was impressed by the level of tech Apple achieved in the iPhone 5, saying in an email that "the actual level of engineering and design that has gone into it is quite amazing." "The power of the chip and the new graphics capabilities alone will however prove a cornucopia for app developers in the ecosystem," Hilwa wrote.

When Schiller returned to the stage, he announced that the iPhone 5 would have a battery life of 8 hours for 3G talk or 4G Web browsing, an improvement from previous iPhones but less than the announced battery times for other new smartphones, such as Motorola's Razr line. Schiller also touted the phone's new camera, which he said is 25 percent smaller, works better in low light and can produce large, panoramic photos. The front-facing camera will improve to 720p and the phone will add more microphones for better sound capability. The new iPhone will also have a new connector, a change that had been rumored before Wednesday's event.

Schiller told the crowd that the iPhone was still using the same connection type that Apple introduced in 2003 for the iPod, and said the company will change to a smaller, more durable connection dubbed "Lightning." Schiller noted the durability of the new connection, and announced that Apple will sell converters to fit on older chargers and other devices. The Cupertino company's mobile operating system and software was the next focus for Apple, as iOS chief Scott Forstall took the stage to show off changes in offerings for iOS 6, all of which were also highlighted at Apple's June event where iOS 6 was introduced.

The iPhone 5 will include Apple's new mapping app, which becomes the native application as a replacement for Google (GOOG) Maps. Forstall also demonstrated capabilities for Siri, the voice-activation system Apple introduced for the iPhone 4S and has relentlessly hyped in advertisements. Siri will now be able to help users post to Facebook, access sports scores and delve deeper into apps to perform functions such as booking restaurant reservations and buying movie tickets.

The iPhone 5 will start at $199 for a 16GB version and cost as much as $399 for versions with more storage. Previous iterations will have their prices cut, with the iPhone 4 8GB offered for free with a two-year contract through carriers AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, while the iPhone 4S 8GB will be $100 with 2 year contract.

The iPhone 5 will arrive on Sept. 21 in the United States and selected other countries, with pre-orders beginning Friday. The phone will arrive in more countries a week later, with availability in 100 countries expected by the end of the year. iOS 6 will arrive on Sept. 19.

Posted on: 13 Sept 2012, 5am IST

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