SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — For the first time, the iPhone is growing even as it slims down. After sticking for five years to the same screen size, Apple on Wednesday revealed a new phone that's taller, and has a bigger display.
The iPhone 5 will go on sale in the U.S. and eight other countries next Friday, Sept. 21.
Even though it's taller than the iPhone 4S, it's lighter, thanks to a new screen technology that makes the whole phone thinner.
The bigger screen — 4 inches measured diagonally — creates room for another row of icons on the screen and lets widescreen movies fit better. The calendar will now show five days at a time instead of just three. Previous iPhone models carried 3.5-inch screens.
In another big change, the iPhone 5 will come with the capability to connect to the fastest new wireless data networks in the U.S. and overseas.
The improvements mean the iPhone 5 is taking a bigger leap up the evolutionary chain than its predecessor, which wasn't that much different than the iPhone 4.
The new device also carries another distinction: It's the first iPhone developed and unveiled since the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs.
The iPhone that Jobs had conceived ushered in what he billed as "the post-PC era" — a shift that is causing people to rely less on personal computers and more on mobile gadgets they can hold in their hand. Jobs died last October the day after Apple introduced the iPhone 4S, which was the fifth version of Apple's phone.
There was little surprise in Wednesday's announcement. Despite the pains the company takes to hide its plans, the rough launch date, the new screen and the capability to connect to so-called LTE networks had been reported for months by blogs and analysts.
"There was nothing unexpected in terms of the new features of the iPhone," said Tavis McCourt, an analyst with Raymond James.
That's a contrast to last year, when Apple watchers were first surprised by a delay in the launch, and then by the fact that the iPhone 4S didn't offer much new except Siri, a voice-activated assistant. The 4S, nevertheless, has been a smash success. During the first nine months that the iPhone 4S was on the market, Apple's revenue from iPhones has exceeded $63 billion, helping to establish Apple as the world's most valuable company ever, as measured by its stock price.
One thing that did surprise McCourt this year: Apple is launching the phone in so many countries so quickly. On Day One, the phone will be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the U.K., besides the U.S.
A week later, it will go on sale in 22 more countries, including Italy, Poland and Spain.
Another surprise about the iPhone 5 is that it's 18 percent thinner than its predecessor. The company was expected to take advantage of any additional space to expand the phone's battery, not make the phone thinner.
Apple followed its usual script for the new iPhone's coming-out party. Apple CEO Tim Cook, Jobs' hand-picked successor, kicked off the festivities before an audience of reporters, bloggers, applications developers and special guests with a summary of the company's milestones. He then handed things over to his top lieutenants, a group led by marketing chief Philip Schiller and mobile software executive Scott Forstall.
It has become such a familiar ritual that Cook, Schiller and Forstall all appeared to be wearing the same attire as they did at Apple's last product event in June. Adopting a personal work uniform was something that Jobs embraced. After learning that designer Issey Miyake had made work uniforms for Sony Corp. employees in Japan, Jobs eventually paid Miyake to make him the black mock turtlenecks that became the signature piece of clothing in an ensemble that included jeans and New Balance sneakers.
With Jobs gone, the Apple executives left the showmanship to the rock band Foo Fighters, who closed out the two-hour presentation with three songs, including one called "My Hero" dedicated to the company's employees for developing products like the iPhone 5.
It's the year's most anticipated phone. The number Apple can sell, analysts believe, is limited mostly by the production capacity of its suppliers. There had been concerns that supplies could be tight. Even so, analysts are expecting Apple to sell tens of millions of phones before the year is out, including perhaps as many as 10 million during the last 10 days of this month.