Apple Announces iPhone 5, New iPods

As expected, Apple announced the iPhone 5 on Wednesday, an evolutionary update to its trend-setting smartphone that adds the larger screen and LTE networking capabilities that the company's competitors have had for over a year. Apple also announced new iTunes software and a new line of iPods. None of the new products are available today, however.

“iPhone 5 is the most beautiful consumer device that we’ve ever created,” Apple Senior Vice President Philip Schiller said, with the company’s usual flair for hyperbole. “We’ve packed an amazing amount of innovation and advanced technology into a thin and light, jewel-like device with a stunning 4" Retina display, blazing fast A6 chip, ultra-fast wireless, even longer battery life; and we think customers are going to love it.”

The iPhone 5 is “the thinnest smartphone in the world,” naturally, and it will ship on September 21 in the United States and eight other countries. Pricing is the same as with the previous-generation iPhone 4S: $199 for a 16GB model, and $299 for a 32GB version; both prices assume you qualify for upgrade pricing or start a new two-year wireless contract.

Apple also introduced the next version of its iTunes software for PC and Mac; this won’t appear until October, though an update to the iTunes mobile app for iOS will ship later this month with iOS 6.

Finally, Apple announced an evolved lineup of iPod music players, which includes new versions of its iPod nano and iPod touch. The iPod nano gains a bigger screen and new colors, and will cost $149 and up. The new iPod touch costs a whopping $299 and up, although Apple will continue selling the previous-generation version for less.

Overall, this week’s event was a bit of a letdown. Part of the reason was pre-release leaks that ruined the surprise: Apple didn’t announce a single new product or feature that wasn’t previously known. But part of it was the purely evolutionary nature of its updates: With a solid product line, Apple simply isn’t able to deliver major, jaw-dropping updates like it used to.

No matter: All of these products will sell in the millions, and you can expect eager consumers to queue up for the new iPhone regardless.

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