news Consumer technology giant Apple has revealed its new iPhone 5 smartphone will launch in Australia next week on Friday September 21, and will support the 1800Mhz 4G networks which Telstra and Optus operate locally. It will also launch through Australia’s third major carrier Vodafone, but without 4G speeds.
Physically the new iPhone retains much of the same form factor as the previous iPhone 4 and 4S models. However, Apple has redesigned the smartphone to take advantage of a longer (but not wider) 4″ display that features a resolution of 1136×640 pixels. The phone is a great deal thinner than the previous iPhone 4S, at 7.6mm thick, and it is 20 percent lighter at 112 grams.
At its heart the iPhone 5 runs Apple’s new A6 processor, which Apple says delivers up to twice the CPU and graphics performance of the previous model, and the iPhone’s camera has been redesigned to be 25 percent smaller than the camera in the iPhone 4S, but it takes still photos faster than its predecessors, as well as coming with new features that let users take panorama images of up to 28 images, as well as still photos while recording video up to 1080p. The iPhone 5 also comes with a HD front-facing camera for video calling and recording up to 720p video.
Apple has introduced a new ‘Lightning’ connector for connecting the iPhone 5 to a battery or to other devices such as PCs and laptops. This connector is smaller and “more durable” than the previous model and is also reversible. There’s also a legacy adapter so that users can connect their new iPhones to their old accessories using Apple’s old 30 pin adapter.
The iPhone 5 also comes with what Apple has described as new enhanced audio features, including “a new beam-forming, directional microphone system for higher quality sound”, and the company this morning said that “background noise fades away with new noise cancelling technology”. The iPhone 5 supports ‘cellular wideband audio for crisper word clarity and more natural sounding speech’ and the iPhone 5 comes with new Apple headphones which Apple is touting as coming with a more natural fit and increased durability, as well as “an incredible acoustic quality typically reserved for higher-end earphones”.
This morning all of Australia’s major mobile carriers — Telstra, Optus and Vodafone — confirmed that the new iPhone would launch through their networks on Friday September 21 (next week). However, only Telstra and Optus will be able to initially support the iPhone 5’s 4G speeds, with Vodafone not planning to launch its 4G network until next year. Vodafone has, however, announced this morning that it had switched on DC-HSPA speeds (between 2Mbps to 16Mbps in major Australian capital cities). 4G capacity offers speeds significantly higher, however — with some users reporting speeds of up to 40Mbps on Telstra’s 4G network and 60Mbps on that of Optus.
The iPhone 5 comes in either white & silver or black & slate, and will be available in Australia for a recommended retail price of AU$799 for the 16GB model, AU$899 for the 32GB model and AU$999 for the 64GB model (all prices include GST). Customers will be able to pre-order their iPhone 5 from Friday 14 September (through Apple’s website).
The pricing of the iPhone 4/4S moels has also been revamped; it will now be available for recommended retail price of AU$679. The iPhone 4 will be available for a recommended retail price of AU$449. Apple has also announced that its iOS 6 software will be available on September 19 as a free software update for existing iPhones; the iPhone 5 will come with iOS 6.
“iPhone 5 is the most beautiful consumer device that we’ve ever created,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “We’ve packed an amazing amount of innovation and advanced technology into a thin and light, jewel-like device with a stunning 4-inch Retina display, blazing fast A6 chip, ultrafast wireless, even longer battery life; and we think customers are going to love it.”
Well, the leakers pretty much got this one right. Apple has launched basically the new iPhone which everyone thought it would; with a longer screen and 4G speeds, plus slightly improved versions of every other feature, the new iPhone looks set to be a quality model like its predecessors. So what does its release mean for Australians? Three things.
Firstly, the iPhone will be the smartphone which will almost singlehandedly drive the adoption of 4G/LTE speeds in Australia. Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of people who will be itching to get their hands on an iPhone 5 when it launches in Australia next week, and likely this handset will be bought by a number of people in the millions over the next several years. I hope Telstra and Optus have their 4G networks ready for this behemoth, because they’re about to see an influx of 4G customers of biblical proportions.
Consequently, as I’ve previously written, the release of a 4G iPhone is horrible news for Vodafone. Despite the fact that the company scrambled this morning to put out a press release regarding its DC-HSPA update in major metropolitan areas, Vodafone has a clear disadvantage compared to Telstra and Optus when it comes to iPhone 5 sales, as it does not operate a 4G network. I anticipate that many current Vodafone iPhone customers will be switching to low-cost Optus brand Virgin when the iPhone 5 launches. The lack of 4G speeds will bite Vodafone.
Lastly, the iPhone 5 offers the fast-growing cadre of Australian Android fans very little incentive to switch back to iOS and away from Google’s popular operating system. Why buy an iPhone 5, after all, when both the Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC One XL have bigger screens and comparable features in every other area? The iPhone 5 offers Android fans nothing they couldn’t get from Android manufacturers anyway — and many of them already had equivalent handsets.
In essence, the iPhone 5 merely brings Apple’s handset line up to par with existing Android models. This gives Android manufacturers a window of opportunity to steal a march on Cupertino and leap ahead over the next six to nine months again, with a plethora of new and funky handsets. I expect the ranks of the Android faithful to only continue to grow in Australia over the next year. And, as a new Android user myself, that’s something I welcome. The iPhone 5 definitely doesn’t do enough to entice me to switch back. It’s just a slightly bigger, more powerful, iPhone 4S, with 4G speeds.
Image credit: Apple