Apple Begins iPhone 5 Preorders Today

(Cupertino, CA)  —  Apple’s new iPhone 5 is now on sale.  Apple is accepting pre-orders today, online and at Apple stores.  The smartphone introduced this week has a larger screen and is nearly 20-percent thinner than previous models.  It is also able to take advantage of the faster LTE networks worldwide and battery life is extended.  Shipping begins September 21st.

How much will it cost and what sizes and colors will be available?
Just like the iPhone 4S, the iPhone starts at $199 for the 16GB model, then goes up to $299 for the 32GB model, and tops out at $399 for the 64GB flavor. All of those are with a two-year contract from the carrier.

Color-wise, there’s still just black and white. Gone from the new model is a single-colored glass back. Instead, you get colored aluminum, which sits between two small panes of colored glass

What’s different about the iPhone 5?
On the outside, the iPhone 5’s main difference is its taller, thinner design. The display now measures 4 inches diagonally (up from 3.5 inches), which gives you an extra row of icons and more space for browsing, apps, and movies. Inside there’s a faster A6 chip, camera improvements, and an extra microphone. You can read all about it in our iPhone 5 hands-on.

The glass on the back is gone?
Yes and no. The back of the new device is mainly metal, though there are glass windows on the top and bottom of the phone to let the various antennas communicate. Apple’s done something similar on past versions of the iPod Touch, and even the iPad with 3G.

And the SIM is even smaller?
Indeed. The iPhone 4 brought us the smaller micro SIM card (first seen in the original iPad), and now we’re getting an even smaller nano SIM. Unfortunately, larger SIMs won’t work in the iPhone 5 even if you try to shave them down. The newer spec isn’t just smaller in shape, it’s thinner too.

What about that new dock connector?
What Apple calls Lightning is a new proprietary connector that’s 80 percent smaller than the old 30-pin connectors. Its main feature: there’s no top or bottom, so you can plug it in either way. The older plugs needed to be oriented correctly.

Of course, this change means your old cables and things like docks and third-party audio systems won’t work with your new phone (yeah, that’s annoying). To get around that, Apple’s got an adapter that you’ll have to buy (naturally), and it ain’t cheap. It’s $29 per adapter. Alternatively, Apple will sell a Lightning-to-USB cable for $19 and a Lightning-to-30-pin cable for $39. Expect cheaper third-party adapters to surface in the future, but for now your options are very limited.

Will the battery life change?
There’s no change in battery life between last year’s model and this year’s mode when it comes to talk time. Like the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5 is rated for 8 hours of talking over 3G.

The iPhone 5 has an edge on battery life when it comes to other features though. The iPhone 5 gets 8 hours of Web browsing over LTE, up from the 6 hours the 4S gets over 3G. When on Wi-Fi, the iPhone 5 also gets 10 hours of browsing on Wi-Fi, up an hour from the iPhone 4S’ 9 hours.

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