SAN FRANCISCO — Apple on Wednesday introduced a new iPhone 5 with a bigger screen and slimmer body that analysts quickly branded a sure hit for the culture-changing tech giant.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook called the launch “the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since the iPhone.”
The California company called the iPhone 5 “the thinnest smartphone in the world,” with an anodised aluminum body that is 18 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter than iPhone 4S.
The new iPhone has a rich 10-centimeter display, prime for the red-hot smartphone market, in which screen size is one of the key factors important to buyers, according to Nielsen senior vice president Jeff Wender.
At a packed launch event in San Francisco, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller praised the new iPhone as “an absolute jewel.”
Apple will start taking orders for the phone Friday and begin shipments on September 21 in the US, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan, and the phone will be available in 100 countries by the end of the year.
Pricing for US customers will start at $199 with a two-year telecom service contract.
The introduction has been among the most keenly anticipated in the tech world, with rumours and leaks over several months about the new device.
Schiller said the taller iPhone nestles in one’s palm to naturally align with thumbs and works on the faster mobile Internet networks known as LTE.
“When you carry your phone it should fit beautifully in your hand, that is just how we designed iPhone 5,” he said.
“Everything you do looks gorgeous on this beautiful widescreen display,” he said, describing the so-called Retina high-definition display.
The new device features Apple’s own new A6 processor, which according to Schiller doubles the speed for loading Web graphics.
Battery life, a key complaint of smartphone users, is extended to eight hours with mobile phone and browsing and 10 hours if Wi-Fi connections are used.
Apple has also installed its own mapping software, upgraded its voice-activated assistant known as Siri and incorporated Facebook in the iOS software.
An iPhone change with the potential to irk fans, however, is a new “Lightning” connector to replace 30-pin connections, the piece that connects devices to computers, power outlets or docking stations.
Apple will sell adaptors ($40) for plugging the new generation iPhone into accessories they may already own such as stereo speakers or car sound systems.
By Glenn Chapman (AFP)