No surprises with latest iPhone from Apple

There weren’t a lot of surprises at Apple Inc. under-wraps launch event on Wednesday, with an as-anticipated iPhone launch and preview of the new iOS 6 operating system, along with upgrades to Apple’s line of music products.

For the most part, we’re looking at incremental improvements, nothing revolutionary. The common refrain: “It’s the best iPhone/iPod/iPod Touch we’ve ever made.”

In terms of details, the iPhone 5 (it did get a number, unlike the new iPad) is all aluminum and glass, thinner at 7.6 mm, and lighter at 112 grams. The four-inch screen makes the phone taller, not wider, and almost brings it into a widescreen aspect ratio.Its new “Lightning” connector is smaller than in the past. Onboard cameras remain more or less the same as the 4s, though a new Panorama mode produces pictures of up to 28 megapixels from the 8-MP sensor.

On the hardware side, what’s under the hood may be the most significant improvement. Apple says the new A6 processor is twice as fast as the A5 it replaces (which gets handed down to the iPod Touch) and has twice the graphics-handling power. Battery life is eight hours talk, 10 hours browsing on WiFi.

Of course, it’s an LTE phone, with a single radio for talk and data. This was no surprise, and in fact Samsung was reported to have already filed suit over LTE use before the iPhone 5 had even launched.

Apple will be taking preorders of the iPhone 5 starting Sept. 14, and will begin shipping Sept. 21 in the U.S. and Canada — the fastest rollout of an iPhone n the company’s history, according to CEO Tim Cook. U.S. contract-based pricing will be $199 for the 16GB version, $299 for the 32GB version, and $399 for the 64GB version, with the existing 4S dropping to $99. In Canada, the iPhone 5 will be available through Rogers, Bell, Telus, Fido and Virgin.

The launch event lacked Apple co-founder Steve Jobs trademark “bonus reveal,” but did feature a three-song set from rock band Foo Fighters.

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Dave Webb
Dave Webb
A journalist of 20 years experience in newspapers and magazines. He has followed technology exclusively since 1998 and was the winner of the Andersen Consulting Award for Excellence in Business Journalism in the eEconomy category in 2000. (The category was eliminated in 2001, leaving Webb as the only winner ever.) He has held senior editorial positions with publications including Computing Canada, eBusiness Journal, InfoSystems Executive, Canadian Smart Living and Network World. He is currently the editor of ComputerWorld Canada and the IT World Canada newswire.

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