SAN FRANCISCO -- Analysts generally praised the new iPhone 5, noting that with its upgraded iPod Touch Apple is attacking both the consumer point-and-shoot camera market as well as handheld games.
Apple rolled out its much anticipated iPhone 5 here Wednesday (Sept. 12.). As expected the device features an upgraded custom applications processor (the A6), support for LTE, a smaller docking connector and a range of media and software enhancements.
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 88 grams, 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, Inc. (Campbell, Calif.).
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 (Austin, Texas). "They effectively plugged specification holes and improved on their differentiators like its thickness, camera quality, and Siri," he said.
Setting the size of the display for the applications community is a BIG deal. Here Samsung et. al. vs. Apple will create issues.
The camera on the iPod Touch could also shake up the DSC point-and-shoot market...maybe.
But LTE and Lightning, that's just playing catch up.
I heard an interesting take on NFC in the iPhone as I was milling about the three-ring circus outside the Apple event. Google has taken the NFC initiative, so now it's actually in Apple's best interest not to adopt it in iPhone. Apple's best bet, according to this theory, is to use competing technology for cashless payment, etc.
Re NFC: I am told there are still a fragmented set of ways to do NFC payments so there is market building to be done, and that's not something Apple does.
Also, what does NFC give consumers they don't have with the swipe of a credit they are carrying anyway?
Re NFC, I think you are right. A lot of infrastructure building is required before the NFC phone becomes useful. Of course, if it is a place like Japan, where NTT Docomo can create a closed NFC environment, your NFC phone works everywhere, and it is actually pretty cool.
For those of us looking for practical NFC implementations, there is a way to do it -- China style. China Mobile is using SIM card to embed NFC technology, so that consumers need to just replace their SIM cards instead of phones.
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