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Should you buy the new iPhone 5?

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You'll probably want the newest and hottest Apple device, but does it really stack up?

Apple has dominated the smartphone market since 2007 with its widely sought-after iPhones. Today, in Cupertino, Calif., Apple unveiled the next entry in the iPhone family, the iPhone 5. Simply put, it's a device that's leaps and bounds better than any other Apple phone to date.

But is it right for you? Consider the following features of the new phone:

A thinner, lighter phone with a larger, 4-inch screen
A major new feature of the phone is its new, larger 4-inch size. That's enough to fit a fifth row of icons on every screen. The iPhone 5 boasts a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, with 1136 x 640 Retina display resolution. And that's not all — the new display offers 44% more color saturation than previous iPhone models, with a touch sensor wired directly into the screen to keep the phone thin and reduce glare. Apps that have been designed for the new, larger iPhone will fill up the whole screen; those that have yet to be updated will use black borders on the top and bottom to prevent stretching and warping of images. Still, if you're looking for a large screen, the Samsung Galaxy III S has the iPhone 5 beat with its 4.8-inch behemoth display.

And while the screen is getting larger, the phone itself is actually getting thinner and lighter. The new iPhone 5 is made entirely out of glass and aluminum. It's 7.8 mm, 18% thinner than the iPhone 4S, and at 112 grams, it's 20% lighter.

Because it's a phone, the device will also need a microphone to pick up your voice. Well, the new iPhone 5 actually has three, and contains noise-cancelling technology to boot so your voice comes across as clear as possible. Apple has also improved the earpiece speaker design, so you can hear who's calling you as clearly as they can hear you.

And yes, before you ask — the iPhone 5 is available in both black and white.

Bringing 4G LTE to the masses
One of the major disappointments with last year's iPhone 4S launch was the lack of high-speed 4G LTE connectivity. Thankfully, the new iPhone 5 takes full advantage of the nation's fastest LTE networks on AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. If you're currently off contract, this might be a great time to consider switching carriers.

We can rebuild it. Faster. Stronger.
The new iPhone 5 utilizes a new A6 chip. It offers twice the speed of the A5 chip in the iPhone 4S, meaning applications and games load and work twice as fast. It also offers twice the graphics power, allowing games on the new phone to offer console-quality images and play. Best of all, the A6 is 22% smaller than the current A5 chip, so it requires less power.

Building a better battery
It wouldn't be a new iPhone without an improved battery, and indeed, Apple is taking performance to the next level. According to the company, the new phone will offer 8 full hours' worth of 3G talk, 3G browsing, or LTE browsing, 10 hours of wifi browsing or video, 40 hours of music, and 225 hours of standby — over nine days without a charge. That's not the best in the industry, but it's certainly competitive with the best.

Taking pictures and video to the next level
Apple also upped their camera game, outfitting the iPhone 5 with an 8-megapixel, 3264 x 2448 camera. For those interested in specifics, the new device will offer:

  • f/2.4 aperture
  • hybrid IR filter
  • backside illumination
  • five element lens
  • dynamic low-light mode
  • sapphire crystal lens

But that's not all — the new A6 chip improves a lot of the camera functionality, as well. You get 40% faster photo capture than the 4S, better noise reduction, and better low-light performance. The iPhone 5 even features something called Panorama Mode, a feature that allows you to easily take massive 28-megapixel panorama pictures. You can also take 1080p HD video, which includes improved video stabilization, face detection, and the ability snap photos while recording a video. In short, you'll be able to snap some of the most impressive phone pictures yet.

Still, though the iPhone's camera has been vastly improved, it may not be the best option if you truly care about taking the absolute best picture possible. Check out our list of the top camera-replacement phones — you're sure to find something better.

How to get your iPhone 5
The new iPhone 5 will be available for preorder in both black and white starting September 14, and ships in the U.S. on September 21. The 16GB model will set you back $199 on a two-year contract, the 32GB will be $299, and a 64GB model is $399. You can use the phone on the Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint networks.

But that's not your only option
If you're looking to save a little bit of scratch, you can now pick up the iPhone 4 for free, or the iPhone 4S for the reduced price of $99. They're both still great phones, and both will be able to run the new Apple iOS 6 operating system when it comes out on September 19. Still, they're smaller-sized phones — which could be a good thing, if that's what you're looking for.

Alternatively, you can also check up the widely hyped competition, the Android-based Samsung Galaxy S III. It features a lot of similar tech: an 8-megapixel camera with face recognition, similar resolution, and generous battery life. Its 4.8-inch screen is larger than that of the iPhone 5. You can order the phone for $99 through Amazon, making it $100 cheaper than its Apple counterpart. Take a quick look at Tecca's review of the S III, and decide for yourself!

Is it time to upgrade?
If you have an Apple iPhone 4, you're probably already out of contract, so you'll be able to get the preferred $199 pricing. If that's the case, now is the perfect time to pull the trigger — the iPhone 5 is leaps and bounds better than the now two-year-old phone. If you have an iPhone 4S, you have a harder decision, especially if you're going to have to pay the full out-of-contract price. Carefully consider the pros and cons, and if the decision is right, go for it. Remember, you can always sell your old iPhone, and in many cases get back more than you paid for it.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Tecca

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