Saturday, September 15, 2012

Apple iPhone 5: Announced!

Apple announced its 6th generation iPhone, the iPhone 5, at a special event in San Francisco this morning. The iPhone 5 brings a huge list of improvements. Apple unexpectedly used the iPhone 5 to introduce its next-generation SoC: the A6.

Apple didn't say anything about core counts and clock speeds, but it did give us a good indication of performance: 2x faster CPU and GPU. Based on the performance gains, Apple's history of SoC naming and some other stuff we've heard recently, it looks like Apple has integrated two ARM Cortex A15 cores on Samsung's 32nm LP HK+MG process. This is a huge deal because it means Apple beat both TI and Samsung on bringing A15s to market.


The GPU side isn't entirely clear at this point, but the 2x gains could be had through a move to 4 PowerVR SGX543 cores up from 2 in the iPhone 4S.

The new SoC is paired with Qualcomm's single-chip 28nm MDM9615 LTE baseband. Apple claims support for EDGE, EV-DO, HSPA, HSPA+, DC-HSDPA and LTE. The WiFi gets updated to dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11a/b/g/n, using 20MHz channels Apple can hit a peak link rate of 150Mbps over WiFi.
The display sees a big upgrade from 3.5-inches to 4-inches diagonally. The new resolution is 1136 x 640, same width but with a taller height (16:9 ratio). Legacy applications will be letterboxed until they are updated to support the added real estate. Within iOS the biggest change will be a fifth row of icons on the home screen; along with added content within apps like the calendar and Mail. 

The iPhone 5 includes three mics, including support for beam forming. The ear piece also now features a noise cancelling feature. As expected there's a new dock connector: the 8-pin Lightning connector. The Lightning connector is reversible and significantly smaller than the previous 30-pin dock connector introduced in 2003. 
Pricing hews to tradition, with configurations starting at 16GB and $199 and adding $100 to the price at each step up in storage (32GB and 64GB). The rest of the lineup shuffles its way down, with the iPhone 3GS being led of stage, and putting the iPhone 4S at $99 and the iPhone 4 gratis, all on contract of course. Preorders start September 14th and will be available in stores September 21st.

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