Apple debuts new iPhone, upgraded iTunes and iPods

Amid a swirl of early leaks and blog chatter, Apple debuted the iPhone 5 at a news event Wednesday afternoon. The latest model smartphone boasts a nice upgrade of features across the board but lacks a game-changing addition like Siri – the iPhone’s personal voice assistant that caused a huge splash at its launch.

Apple marketing executive Phil Schiller said of the new iPhone, “Each year we set a new bar with a new iPhone, and we’re going to do that again today.”

Schiller, along with CEO Tim Cook and other company leaders, went on to showcase the many new and improved features of the iPhone 5 (the device’s official name) starting with the basic design.

Available in black and white, the iPhone 5 is taller with a metal back made entirely out of glass and aluminum. Buttons are in the same places as previous models. Schiller said the iPhone is also the thinnest ever by Apple at 7.6mm thick.

The phone also boasts a Retina Display and 4-inch screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio. That last featuer was adopted to make the phone “easier in your hand.” Apple said touch sensors are now built into the display itself, making the device 30% thinner and less prone to glare.

The iPhone 5 will be 4G LTE compatible, with a “dynamic antenna” that can switch between different networks. Look for the device in the United States on Sprint, AT&T, Verizon.

A new chip, the A6, allows for faster graphics and processing. Despire that, Schiller said the battery life will allow 8 hours of 3G talktime and 3G browsing. 8 hours also of LTE browsing, 10 hours Wi-Fi browsing, 10 hours video, and 40 hours of music.

There’s also an improved “iSight” 8 megapixel camera with improved photo features and an audio system including three microphones – one on the bottom, one on the front, and one on the back. That’s an upgrade from two.

Another big change coming Wednesday was the adoption of a new “plug in” for the iPhone going forward. In place of the old 30 pin connector launched in 2003, iPhones will now have a Thunderbolt connector and Lightning. Apple said accessory makers are already working to adapt to the change. There will be an adapter to let you plug your 30 pin connector into a Lightning plug.

How about software? The new iPhone will include iOS6. The iPhone 4S, 4, 3GS, new iPad and iPad 2, also all get iOS 6 on September 19.

Siri also got a facelift, and can now pull up sports scores and standings at a moment’s notice. You can also now post to Facebook via Siri.

The iPhone 5 will sell for the same price as the iPhone 4S. $199 for 16GB. $299 for 32GB and $399 for 64GB. The iPhone 4 8GB model will now be free with contract and the 16GB iPhone 4S will sell at $99.

Pre-orders begin Sept. 14th with a release date of Sept. 21st.

Apple also announced an upgraded iTunes platform Wednesday, as well as changes to its iPod line. The Nano gets fitness and pedometer apps built in, among other spec upgrades. The iPod Touch also gets the thinner, longer screen of the iPhone 5 and improved internal hardware. For more information, visit Apple’s website.

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