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iPhone 5 sees Apple finally playing catch-up

13 Sep 2012

V3 reporter Shaun NicholsEarlier this week, Apple finally delivered its new iPhone. The much-celebrated iPhone 5 brought with it a number of advances in features and services that allow Apple to remain head and shoulders above its competitors. It also copied key features from rival handsets the iPhone had previously lacked.

While the former is a situation to which Apple and its flagship product are no stranger, the latter is something new for the company. And as much as the company and its devotees may not want to admit that Apple was playing catch-up, in the long run such a startegy could end up proving beneficial for customers.

When it comes to design simplicity and elegance, the iPhone still has no peer. With the iPhone 5, the distance between Apple and its competitors increased that much more.

The company finally got rid of the fragile glass backplate and replaced it with a more attractive and durable aluminium plating. With the addition of a combined display and touchscreen sensor, the company has been able to further shrink down the thickness of the handset to less than 8mm.

And of course, iOS 6 brings with it a number of improvements, most notably an improved Siri voice-activated assistant application. As Google is working to introduce such features in Android, Apple is working to perfect them.

At the same time, however, Apple introduced updates that will seem relatively commonplace to those in the Android space.

For starters, there is the handset itself. The 3.5in screen has been significantly expanded to a 4in widescreen display, the move being the first time Apple has stretched the screen on the iPhone since the fist model was launched in 2007.

While a 4in screen will seem like a massive display expansion for iPhone owners (so much so that it will enable another line of icons on the handset's home screen,) such dimensions would hardly raise eyebrows on other mobile platforms.

The Samsung Galaxy S3, by comparison, is still significantly larger than the iPhone 5 with its 4.8in screen size, and barring any more successful trade bans by Apple, the Samsung handset and other Android models will likely enjoy a significant screen size advantage for some time.

Then, of course, there's the addition of LTE. While the wireless broadband connectivity is being pitched as a quantum leap forward by Apple, the 4G internet standard is hardly new. Android-equipped handsets have been running on LTE networks for some time now, and networks are now active in most major cities and metropolitan areas in the US and Europe.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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