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Apple lifts the lid on iPhone 5

Technology giant Apple has revealed its newest smartphone, the iPhone 5. It's thinner and lighter than its predecessor, and boasts a taller screen.

The new phone will go on sale on Friday, September 21, in Germany, the United States, the UK, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore.

Following months of rumours and speculation, Apple unveiled the smartphone at a packed launch in San Francisco on Wednesday, as it tries to stop product challenges from some of its rivals, such as Samsung, Microsoft and Google.

The iPhone 5 features a 4-inch screen, the largest-ever on an iPhone but still smaller than those offered by Samsung, Motorola and HTC. It measures 7.6mm thick and weighs 112 grams, around one-fifth thinner and lighter than its predecessor, the iPhone 4S.

The company says the phone will run on a chip that is twice as fast as that used in previous iPhones, and have the the capability to connect to the fastest new wireless data networks. Some other phones in the US have already had this ability for 18 months.

The phone's rear camera has the same resolution as the iPhone 4S, but Apple says it takes faster pictures and works better in low light.

Best engineering, claims Apple

One major change on the new phone is the connection port, which is smaller and narrower. There will be adaptors available to connect the iPhone 5 to accessories designed for previous models, like sound docks.

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Apple's marketing chief Phil Schiller described the new smartphone as the best engineering ever done by the company.

But it faces increasing competition in the sector. Google Android has become the most-used mobile operating system in the world, while key supplier and rival Samsung is leading in smartphone sales.

Apple's rivals have been first to release phones with bigger displays or that run on faster wireless networks.

The iPhone 5 will be available in around 100 countries by the end of 2012.

jr/ipj (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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