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Apple Announces Taller, Thinner, Lighter iPhone 5

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The iPhone is getting a redesign, Apple executives announced this afternoon. The iPhone 5 will be available for pre-order Friday, September 14, and will begin shipping one week later. This latest iPhone will be thinner and lighter than the previous iPhone 4S, but with a taller display. It will measure 7.6mm thick (18 percent thinner than before) and weigh 112 grams (20 percent lighter), but will offer an expanded 4-inch screen with a resolution of 1136 by 640 pixels.

That puts the new screen close to 16:9 widescreen resolution, so Apple is playing up its movie abilities. Menu screens will now offer five rows of apps, plus the shortcut row.

The screen will offer improved color saturation -- 44 percent better, Apple says -- and the touch sensors are integrated into the display, making it thinner and sharper.

The iPhone 5's camera gets a boost. It's still an 8 megapixel camera, but the five-element lens is thinner than before. A new dynamic low light mode should help with indoor shots. Apple claims it will deliver 40 percent faster image capture. The camera is gaining a panorama mode, and a cloud feature will let users share photos with family and friends.

For video, the camera can record at 1080p, as before, but includes better video stabilization and facial recognition. Users can grab photos while recording a video. The front-facing camera records at 720p, as before. FaceTime now works over cellular connections, but we'll have to wait and see if some cellular carriers place restrictions on it.

Audio will be improved with three microphones, placed on the top front, top rear, and bottom, designed to help noise cancelation and voice recognition.

The iPhone 5 will support LTE, DC-HSDPA, and HSPA+ cellular connections, resulting in dramatically faster cellular speeds. Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon all support LTE in the United States.

The iPhone 5 is powered by an A6 chip, which Apple says will deliver double the speed and graphics performance of the A5 chip. It's also smaller and more energy efficient: Apple claims the iPhone 5 will offer 8 hours of LTE browsing time, 10 hours of video playback, and 225 hours of standby.

As was widely rumored, the iPhone 5 will introduce a new connector, called Lightning. It's 80 percent smaller than the current connector. Apple will sell adaptors for existing docks, but didn't announce the price. Speaking of price, the iPhone 5 will have the same price as the 4S: $199 for the 16GB version, $299 for the 32GB, and $399 for the 64GB (with contract).

Apple demoed the new iOS 6, which will include an Apple-created Maps app (with navigation and satellite imagery), redesigned Safari (that can share tabs with a desktop browser), and improved Mail (with VIP support and the ability to flag messages for follow-up).

A redesigned iTunes is on the way in late October for both iOS devices and the desktop OS. Using iCloud, iTunes will now remember a movie's playback position, so that a viewer can continue watching on a different device.

But that wasn't all: Apple surprised with iPod upgrades. The seventh generation iPod Nano will have a larger multitouch display, and will list for $149 for 16GB of storage. The fifth generation iPod Touch gains the iPhone 5's new taller display, and will sell for $299 for 32GB and $399 for 64GB. New iPods go on sale in October.

Apple is also redesigning the familiar white earbuds, a mainstay since the first iPod. Now called EarPods, they're shaped to funnel sound directly into the ear canal. They'll ship today, and will be included with new mobile devices.

The Foo Fighters took the stage to finish the two-hour presentation with a three song concert.

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