Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller introduces the iPhone 5. Photo courtesy of

Much to the surprise of the seven people who haven’t been following the rumors all over the web, Apple announced the iPhone 5 today. The rumors and leaked photos turned out to be accurate. The new iPhone is taller and thinner. The phone itself is an exciting upgrade. It has some great performance improvements. From an iPhoneographer’s perspective, the camera, though, is only a moderate update from the iPhone 4S. Read on for more details. >>>

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This was probably the most leaked iPhone pre-release that I’ve seen. Nearly everything we’ve seen over the past few months ended up being included in the device with the exception of Near field communication technology (NFC) that lets you use your iPhone as a wireless wallet.

The phone itself is faster, taller, thinner and has improved screen. The iPhone 5 is 7.6mm thick, 18% thinner than before. The phone itself is made of glass and aluminum — a throwback to the original iPhone 2G. They will come in black and white cases. The new phone gets an ultra fast LTE wireless radio, which is faster than 3G and the fake 4G that AT&T is currently using for the iPhone 4S. If your carrier and market support LTE, the data speeds on your iPhone 5 will probably be faster than the connection speeds on your home internet.

The new screen, as expected, is taller than previous iPhones. It’s a Retina display with a larger 16:9 aspect ratio — the same as Hi-Def video. Screen resolution has been increased to 1136 x 640 — the same width as the current iPhone 4 and 4S but taller than the 960 x 640 currently used. Legacy apps will sit in a matted screen floating between two black bars until they are updated. Despite the larger screen, the iPhone 5 is still smaller than a Samsung Galaxy S3.

The new screen has 44% better color saturation with full sRGB color space rendering. While this doesn’t effect the camera, processing images should produce better results that closer match screen and print outputs.

The device itself has a new, faster A6 processor, with a faster CPU and graphics compared to the A5 currently in the iPhone 4S — up to twice as fast. Despite the additional spped and processing power, the new processor should help battery life. According to Apple, the new battery specs exceed the iPhone 4S, with 8 hours of 3G or LTE talk time or browsing and 10 hours on WiFi browsing.

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The iPhone 5 Camera

What most iPhoneographers were curious about is the new iPhone camera. I’ll have my thoughts on the new camera further down the post, but the new camera is more like a dot oh update than a full version upgrade.

The new iPhone camera still has 8 MP output — 3264×2448. It’s got a a 5-element lens and f/2.4 aperture — the same as the 4S despite the new, taller screen of the 5.

The new camera will have a faster shot-to-shot time with up to a 40% faster image capture.

One of the big new features of the iPhone 5 is more functional than fun. The rear camera now has a sapphire lens crystal cover which replaces the easily scratched plastic one that’s there now. The new cover is harder than glass making it more durable and clear.

The A6 chip has a new image processor which should help reduce noise and includes a “smart filter” to help improve color-matching. The camera has a new Dynamic Low-Light mode. It evaluates nearby pixels to give up to 2 f-stops greater low-light performance. With the same fixed f/2.4 aperture, this will most likely be enhanced on a chip. According to Apple’s Phil Schiller, the new iPhone camera should deliver improved low-light photography. “Amazing” was the word he used.

A beta-only feature in iOS 5 Makes its way into the new camera. The iPhone finally has a built-in panorama mode. You just sweep the scene — vertically to get the greatest resolution. The resulting image is a 28 MP pano. Apple’s samples looked great at first glance. Panorama has a proprietary stitching algorithm that smooths out the image if you weave or shake. It also removes any artifacts if someone moves — a minor but irritating problem with current pano apps. No word yet as to whether or not the iPhone 4 or 4S will get Pano.

The new iPhone 5 will run Apple’s new iOS 6, which releases soon.

The iPhone’s video camera gets a minor update as well. It’s 1080p still, but with better video stabilization. There’s also facial recognition. You can grab photos while shooting a video, too.

Okay… When Can I Get One?

The iPhone 5 is available for preorder starting Friday, September 14. As expected, it ships on September 21st in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. It rolls out in 20 more countries next month.

In the US, prices will be the same as the current 4s — $199 for 16GB. $299 for 32GB, $399 for 64GB. The 4S drops to $99 and the iPhone 4 will be free with a 2 year contract.

iOS 6 streets September 19 and will run on the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, 3GS, new iPad, iPad 2 and iPod touch in addition to the new devices.

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iPod Touch

The iPod Touch line got an exciting refresh today. In addition to a new, faster A5 processor — the same CPU currently powering the iPhone 4S, the iPT line’s camera got a major upgrade — a bigger improvement than the iPhone 5’s.

The new iPod Touch gets the same as the iPhone 5 — an 1136 x 640 pixel Retina display. The device itself is taller and thinner than the current models.

The camera is bumped to a respectable 5 megapixels. The sensor itself is a Backside illuminated, f/2.4, five element lens with the same sapphire crystal lens cover. It’s essentially a 5 megapixel iPhone 5 camera. It will have 1080p video but gets new image stabilization as well. The iPod Touch loses its lo-fi charm, but you’ll now be able to take some serious photographs with the device.

What Do I Think?

I think the iPhone 5 itself is an exciting phone. I really like the faster processor (always good) and I really like the new LTE bandwidth support. Dallas/Fort worth is an AT&T market that already supports LTE, so I’ll be able to take advantage of blazing internet on my phone right way. Hello data overage charges….

The new screen with its better color saturation and sRGB support will make processing images a little nicer. While we don’t shoot on our iPhones primarily for color accuracy, the new screen will make it easier for us to process images to get them closer to what we see. The sRGB support is a basic color calibration profile. Our photos will now better match what wee see on our desktops, laptops, and enlargements. I’m a Photoshop production artist and this new feature actually excites me more as I think about it. No other iPhone has had this much potential for screen calibration. iPhone videographers will really appreciate the new 16:9 aspect ratio of the new screen.

I wasn’t expecting much else from the new camera and the iPhone 5 delivered. Many iPhoneographers will be disappointed in how little the camera has improved. I’m a surprised at the improvements that didn’t make it into the camera as much as those that did.

I love the new sapphire lens crystal cover. For those who prefer a naked (caseless) iPhone, this improves the durability of the lens cover and will greatly help reduce scratches — something which I’ve championed for a while. While the iPhone 4, 4S, and 5 are beautiful looking devices, the logic of making a plastic lens cover flush with the body of the iPhone always escaped me.

I like the faster shooting and processing times. It’s a very good but not a killer new feature for me. If the claimed 40% increase is accurate in real world shooting, this will mean fewer missed shots and greater opportunities for safety shots. That’ll put the iPhone 5 Camera on par with the full-res burst mode of many third-party camera apps.

The new Pano feature looks promising. I like how Apple has implemented it. It’s a sweep capture instead of a stitch capture. I’m curious to see how its image fixing magic works in real-world photos.

Otherwise, the camera improvements are minor. Most users probably won’t really notice them. In that regard, the camera update is disappointing. There are no new “killer” camera features, such as a resolution bump to 11 megapixels or improved glass (lenses) in the device. The image improvement algorithms for low-light, noise and color are nice, but minor tweaks.

With Apple’s emphasis on iPhoneography for the past few device and iOS updates, I’m very surprised that separate focus and exposure targets in Camera wasn’t at least added as an option. Overall, the iPhone 5 is a solid dot oh update, but is lacking in exciting new camera features worthy of a full version upgrade.

I’m excited about the iPhone 5 overall. It’s lighter, thinner, faster and has a much better screen. As a phone, it’s definitely a worthwhile improvement over my 4s — especially for the new LTE support. I’ll definitely be pre-ordering mine this Friday. The camera updates, though, while Apple tried to put a good sell on them a to me look like an iPhone 4S camera dressed up a little nicer for the new iPhone.

If you’re updating from an iPhone 4 or older, the  new camera will be an awesome and exciting upgrade for you. Those of us upgrading from an iPhone 4S will have to justify the upgrade because the rest of the phone is faster and pretty cool.


What do you think of the new iPhone 5? will you be upgrading or sitting this one out? Let us know in the Talkback below.

You can also head over to the discussion on The iPhoneographer’s Network. If you’re not already a member, join now! It’s free!


iPhone 5 panorama. photo courtesy of

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All photos courtesy of

Stacy Anderson contributed to this report.