Apple iPhone 5 launched with 4G capability

Apple has launched a new iPhone 5 smartphone which is 4G enabled at an event in San Francisco.The device’s new size allows it to display an extra row of app icons on its home screen.

The firm said it was 18% thinner and 20% lighter than the iPhone 4S. However, it does not feature an NFC (near field communication) chip to allow it to make touchless payments.

Apple said the handset would work on Everything Everywhere’s (EE) 4G LTE network in the UK- which give it an advantage against its rivals which will not launch the higher-speed data service until 2013.

Apple said that the handset would start to be shipped on 21 September.

The new screen offers a 16:9 ratio, matching that of widescreen televisions.

But its 4in (10.2cm) size remains smaller than rival displays used by Samsung, Nokia, Motorola, LG, HTC and Sony’s flagship models.

A better camera, more uses for the voice activation feature Siri, and its own mapping system with turn-by-turn navigation all add up to an impressive device.

But Android users, and in particular fans of Samsung’s best-selling Galaxy S3 will say Apple is just playing catch-up. Features like the ability to shoot a panorama have been on their phones for years.

That won’t stop the new iPhone being a big hit – with millions of existing users now nearing the end of their existing phone contracts.

The camera is an eight megapixel model – the same as in the iPhone 4S, and a lower specification than LG and Sony’s most recent devices.

The handset also uses a new, smaller, socket for its charger. This means owners will need to use a new adapter to plug the device into existing speakers and other equipment.

It will be sold with either 16 gigabytes, 32GB or 64GB of storage. The basic model will be sold for £529 in the UK, but the figure will be lower if bought with a network contract.

In addition to launching the new model, Apple will continue to ship versions of the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4, but is phasing out 2009’s iPhone 3GS.

It is possible that Apple Inc might have made a mistake by rejecting omit NFC in order to make the model thinner.

It is just a matter of time before the smartphone replaces the plastic credit card payment system and by skipping the NFC technology, Apple may have missed a valuable opportunity to take the lead in this market.

With over 400 million active credit card accounts on file- through it’s apps and iTunes-  Apple had a prime opportunity to convert its customers using a sleek mobile payment system tied to the iPhone.

According to the firm’s most recent earnings report the iPhone and related services and accessories accounted for 52% of £74 billion ($120 billion) total net sales over the nine months running up to July – 98 million handsets were sold in that time.