Apple unveiled the iPhone 5 Wednesday morning in San Francisco and rolled out the new iOS 6 mobile operating system.
Following brief comments from CEO Tim Cook, Phil Schiller, the company's marketing chief, introduced the phone — to be available in the U.S. on Sept. 21 — as "the most beautiful product we've ever made."
"I'm going to take you through it," he said. "And I hope you'll love it as much as we do."
The main talking points:
>> The phone is 18 percent thinner than the iPhone 4S, its predecessor, and 20 percent lighter — a departure from the earlier news of the new iPad, which was thicker than the one before it.
>> The four-inch display features more responsive touch sensors and wide-screen video.
>> The phone's new A6 chip will double the speed.
>> Despite the energy-sapping screen size and graphics, the new iPhone has a better battery life — better, in fact, than the 4S.
>> FaceTime video calls now will stream over 3G, not just wi-fi, as on the 4S.
>> The camera features better low-light performance, faster image capture and a widescreen panorama mode
>> Passbook, a new feature, allows users to store tickets, gift cards, coupons, boarding passes and other similar items in its single, native app.
The phone also will have a new charger — significantly smaller, similar to those used by Androids and Blackberry phones. Adaptors for the original 30-pin plug-in, which was introduced in 2003, are available.
Scott Forstall, Apple's senior vice president of iOS software, arrived on stage to demonstrate the new iOS 6.
Having booted Google's Maps from its native navigation app, Forstall revealed Apple's own maps product, featuring detailed satellite imagery, turn-by-turn directions and 3D imagery of buildings on the street.
"All of this works in landscape in addition to portrait," he said. "And that, is turn by turn"
The new system also updates Siri — which appears to be faster and more inclusive in its searches, finding widely recommended movies when asked which are the best films.
The phone also appears to be more tightly integrated with Facebook and Twitter, and Siri, on command, has access to posting on a user's Facebook wall.
As for price, the iPhone 5 has a three-tier price range depending on the size of the storage: $199 for 16 GB, $299 for 32 GB and $399 for 64 GB.
The new iOS 6, which features a redesigned iTunes with Facebook and Twitter integration, will be available for free download on Sept. 19.
Along with unveiling the thinnest iPhone yet, the new iPod Nano with a 2.5 inch display is designed to look like a shrunken iPhone. Also unveiled was a thinner iPod touch, which Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of iOS product marketing, said "is the lightest iPod we've ever created."