Despite efforts to keep new features secret, details of the new iPhone 5 leaked. It wasn't surprising that the "5" is all glass and aluminum and is thinner, lighter, and faster than any of its predecessors. Compared to the current 4S model, the new device is 1.37 inches taller. The only thing not smaller is the screen. It goes from 3.5 to 4 inches, which allows you to stack five rows of apps on your home screen, instead of four.
And that's just the beginning. Apple's secret sauce is inside. A faster processor will make it load and run applications faster and improve graphics. And it now will run on the fastest wireless networks, called 4G LTE. Battery life has also been improved.
"The hardware and software engineering that has gone into this product is the most challenging our team has ever taken on, and what they've accomplished is simply amazing," said Phil Schiller, Apple marketing VP.
Apple also has dropped Google for its map program, and created its own that provides spoken turn-by-turn navigation. There are also overhead maps that give you a 3D view of major landmarks.
A smaller camera inside still produces eight megapixel images. While a new program called Panorama can produce wide-screen scenes stitched together as the app helps you take a series of shots.
Apple also introduced a new digital dock connector called "lightning," which replaces a 30-pin connector. And new earbuds it now calls EarPods. It made them fit better by measuring the ears of hundreds of people. Apple also claims the sound quality is better.
Siri, Apple's personal digital assistant, also has been improved to provide sports data and to launch apps.
Analysts give thumbs up to Apple for keeping the iPhone 5 a manageable size, "Just because everyone else is making bigger, fatter, wider devices, we're not gonna do that. You know, we're gonna to keep it the same size in terms of width and give you more dimension in the height of the screen. And I think that's a smart move," Gartner research vice president Van Baker said.
CCS Insight director Ben Wood added, "They've made some important changes to the product, added some new technologies, and consumers are going to love it."
Apple starts taking pre-orders for the iPhone 5 this Friday. Apple will then start releasing the phone a week later on September 21. The price will range from $199 to $399, depending on amount of gigabytes of storage on your phone. That's the same price as the current model 4S.