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iPhone 5 makes grand debut

Posted: 13 Sep 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:smartphone? multimedia devices? baseband processor?

Apple rolled out its latest iPhone and iPod units in the U.S. yesterday gaining generally favorable reviews from analysts. The iPhone 5, as expected, features an A6 processor, support for LTE, a smaller docking connector, media and software upgrades and a larger screen at 4 inches.

The company provided few details about the chips inside the handset which was expected to include a quad-core ARM Cortex A9 processor and a Qualcomm MDM9600 baseband processor. It did say the new A6 is 22 percent smaller than the prior A5X chip, delivering performance boosts of 70 to 100 percent.

The most visible difference with the iPhone 5 is a new four-inch, 1,136 x 640 pixel resolution display with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Legacy apps are surrounded in black borders to simulate the size of the former display. The touch screen sensor is now built into the LCD, an emerging industry trend.

The iPhone 5 supports a higher fidelity audio quality Apple calls "wideband audio," which it says 20 carriers will support. The handset also sports improved speaker with five magnets, up from two.

Apple did not opt to use near-field communications in the iPhone 5, a design decision at least one analyst had expected. It also did not provide technical details on the A6, such as whether it uses four A9 cores, or specs on the Lightning interconnect.

The iPhone 5 uses a new 8-pin adapter called Lightning, echoing the Thunderbolt interface used in the Macintosh. It is 80 percent smaller than the 30-pin connector Apple has used since the iPod debuted in 2003.

Apple provides Lightning adapters to dock to older peripherals. Bose, JBL, Bowers and Wilkins and others said they support Lightning.

The company also rolled out a new iPod Nano and Touch MP3 players that uses the Lightning connector. The Nano uses a 2.5-inch display and supports Bluetooth. The Touch has the same four-inch screen as the iPhone 5.

The Touch also uses the Apple A5 apps processor to drive new features such as a camera with 1,080-pixel video resolution. It supports Bluetooth Low Energy and 802.11n Wi-Fi and measures 6.1 mm thick and at 88g, Apple's thinnest and lightest iPod Touch to date.

"With the camera in the new iPod Touch, they clearly are going after point-and-shoot cameras and it now becomes the best hand held gaming device available as well," said Tim Bajarin, president of market watcher Creative Strategies.

The iPhone 5 uses iOS 6, integrating many new features that Apple disclosed at its separate developer's event in June. Apple will ship the phone Sept. 21, targeting 240 carriers in 100 countries by the end of the year.

"Apple's decision to redesign every component in the iPhone allows it to be the thinnest, lightest and most powerful smartphone on the market," gushed Bajarin. "There is huge pent up demand for this new iPhone and it should drive record sales for iPhones in the next year and force all smartphone competitors back to the drawing board again as Apple just raised the bar."

Apple will gain market share with iPhone 5, added Patrick Moorhead, principal Analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. "They effectively plugged specification holes and improved on their differentiators like its thickness, camera quality, and Siri," he said.

- Rick Merritt
??EE Times

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