Since the iPhone was launched back in 2007, it has transformed how we see and use our mobile devices. The world of usable touch screen devices that consumers could afford was something of a novalty back then, but we expect it as standard now on all smartphones. Our expectations of what smartphones can do has continually risen and this poses a great challenge for the likes of Apple, Samsung, Google and Microsoft.
Every year since 2007 Apple has released the next version of the iPhone and this year was no exception. On wednesday Apple annouced the iPhone 5, the latest and greatest iPhone, but what are the new features and do they, once again, make the iPhone the stand-out handset to have?
If you have an iPhone 4 or 4S then you'll notice the similarities to the iPhone 5, cosmetically it's very similar. It's thinner, lighter and taller than its predecessor and looks stunning. The display is the biggest cosmetic change, moving away from the 3.5" screen to a taller 4" one, this means that the resolution of the iPhone is now 1136x640 and still has the retina display. Apple have gone to great lengths to make this a quality product, the body is made out of Aluminium and Glass and has been machined with a level of detail not seen in phones before.
The headphone jack has been moved to the bottom and is sat next to the new dock connector called Lightning. The new Lightning connector moves away from the 10 year old 30 pin connector that we have got used to. It's smaller, more durable and reversible meaning to more working out which way it needs to be plugged in. This new connector is set to be the standard for the next decade. There is an adaptor to connect the old 30 pin connection to the new Lightning port, this can be bought through the Apple store.
Although there are a number of cosmetic changes, there are quite a few more under the skin. The new A6 chip provides twice the graphics and processing power of the old A5 chip in the iPhone 4S and the battery life is slightly longer, boasting 8 hours of talk time and 10 hours of video playback. The cameras have been upgraded. The rear camera is now an 8-megapixels and can shoot full 1080p HD video, the front camera is now capable of recording 720p HD video as well, providing HD FaceTime. There's also improved lenses, stability, auto-focus and face detection. Apple also made quite a song and dance about the new panorama feature which provides the ability to take 360 degree panoramic photos. It is impressive and extremely easy to use but nothing particularly new as other apps have been doing this for years.
Probably the biggest fanfair was for the new 4G LTE capability. 4G LTE is the next version of mobile internet, similar to 3G. 4G LTE boasts potential speeds of 100Mbps, this is 10x faster than the average home broadband and twice as fast and home fibre. Currently the UK doesn't have an 4G LTE network, but Everything Everywhere (T-Mobile & Orange) recently announced that the UK will get 4G LTE at the end of this year, just in time for Christmas. This makes the iPhone 5 a very desirable product and in a league of it's own. There are a number of plans for future Android phones to have 4G LTE support but these will come in the next few months, for now Apple lead the way.
Ever since the iPhone was released, the worst part of the phone was the headphones, they are terrible. Shocking sound quality, never fit in your ears properly and quite uncomfortable. Well Apple have released, what they're calling, EarPods. Apparently, they have spent three years looking at ears and designing the new headphones. They look different from any other headphones that I have seen and are supposed to be a significant improvement on the existing headphones. The proof is in the listening, until we try them we simply don't know, but they can't be any worse! Every new iPhone & iPod will be shipped with a set of these headphones, or you can buy a pair on the Apple Store.
So that's the iPhone 5, not a massive, new device but a very solid upgrade that once again puts Apple in front of the competition but only just. However, the hardware isn't the only thing that makes an iPhone an iPhone, iOS plays a massive part in making the iPhone a success and Apple, once again, has released a new version.
iOS 6 is the latest version of iOS and boasts some impressive new features and upgrades. Let's take a look at the most significant ones.
Let's start with Siri. If you've not heard of Siri, then quite simply is a voice recognition app that allows you to do pretty much anything on your phone using your voice. For example, you can dial numbers, schedule appointments, send messages, etc. That sounds pretty normal and expected, but now you can book tables at a restaurant, find out the latest sports scores, launch applications, tweet, check the weather, get directions, set an alarm, check stocks or just have a conversation with it! Basically Siri is your personal assistant. We're only at the beginning or what Siri could do on the iPhone, developers can now use Siri in their applications making the possibilities endless.
Facebook is now tied very heavily into iOS, as is Twitter. This means that you can post direct to Facebook or Twitter without having to be in the app to do it.
You can now share photo streams with other iOS users very quickly and easily with just a few touches of a button. Those perople you shared the stream with can even comment and like a photo.
FaceTime is now able to work over non Wifi connections. This means that FaceTime is available all of the time, just be careful of your data limits!
One of the more interesting additions is Passbook. Passbook allows you to store and manage your coupons, movie tickets, boarding passes and loyalty cards all on your phone. So no more credit card size vouchers in your wallet, it's all stored on your phone and backed up on iCloud. It will also tell you if you are at the correct gate to board your flight and inform you if your gate changes after you check in. Passbook has a lot of potential and some big names such as Starbucks, American Airlines, Delta etc have already signed up and made Passbook compatible apps. No doubt there will be more to come in the near future.
Lastly the biggest update is to the Maps app. Gone is Google Maps and in is Apple's new vector based mapping system.