iPhone 5 Release Date Sees Launch Of 5 New Apple Stores Around The Globe
After a record-breaking debut in the US and nine other countries last weekend, the iPhone 5 finally released in 22 new countries on Friday, as promised back at Apple's media event held on Sept. 12. Courtesy

After a record-breaking debut in the US and nine other countries last weekend, the iPhone 5 finally released in 22 new countries on Friday, as promised back at Apple's media event held on Sept. 12.

Starting today at 8 a.m. local time, Apple and its regional carriers will release the iPhone 5 in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. In its first launch weekend, the iPhone 5 was released in the US, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the UK.

The iPhone 5, the first Apple phone to feature the high-speed Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network, is supported by several global LTE carriers including AT&T, Bell, Sprint, Verizon, Telus, Deutsche Telekom, Telstra, EE, SingTel, and a slew of others. But starting today, the iPhone 5's second release will also see new support from a handful of regional US carriers, including Cricket, C Spire, Bluegrass Cellular, Cellcom, GCI, Golden State Cellular, Nex-Tech Wireless, Pioneer Wireless, Appalachian Wireless, MTA Solutions, and nTelos.

“Demand for iPhone 5 has been incredible and we are working hard to get an iPhone 5 into the hands of every customer who wants one as quickly as possible,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said earlier this week in a press release. “While we have sold out of our initial supply, stores continue to receive iPhone 5 shipments regularly and customers can continue to order online and receive an estimated delivery date. We appreciate everyone’s patience and are working hard to build enough iPhone 5s for everyone.”
Apple began taking pre-orders for the iPhone 5 on Sept. 14, just two days after the phone’s unveiling, and in less than two hours, Apple sold out of its first batch of pre-orders, and shortly thereafter, US LTE carriers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless also reported their initial iPhone 5 stock had sold out.

Currently, there is a 3-4 week waiting period for new iPhone 5 deliveries in the US, and it’s possible that a reported shortage in display screens from the company’s Asian suppliers could cut sales short and extend waiting times in other countries. Display shortages are believed to have caused Apple’s first weekend sales to fall short of Wall Street’s expectations, even though Apple’s five million units sold was a new sales record for iPhone launch weekends. Some analysts had expected Apple could sell as many as 10 million units in its first weekend. J.P. Morgan predicted Apple could sell as many as 50 million iPhone 5 units in the fourth quarter this year.

The iPhone 5, Apple’s sixth-generation smartphone, is 18 percent thinner than its predecessor, the iPhone 4S, at just 7.6mm, and is 20 percent lighter than the 4S at 112 grams. The iPhone 5 features a bigger 4-inch screen that boasts a 16:9 aspect ratio for watching videos in full widescreen, and Apple has again made its new in-cell display a Retina Display, with a screen resolution of 1136 x 640 screen and a density of 336 ppi.

The iPhone 5’s screen, according to an extensive analysis by Amherst, NH-based DisplayMate, is actually a “significant improvement” over the smaller screens in the iPhone 4S and 4, and is also substantially brighter and more accurate than the screen in Samsung’s Galaxy S3, which many consider to be the greatest rival to Apple and the iPhone 5. Read the full lab comparison here.

The iPhone 5 is all about speed; in addition to being powered by the high-speed Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network, the iPhone 5 also features a newly-enhanced camera infrastructure, a smaller ”Lightning” dock connector, and a custom-built dual-core A6 processor, which actually boasts more than twice the overall processing performance of any iOS device that’s come before it, including the new iPad. The benchmarks for the A6 processor actually nearly triple the performance of the A5 chip in last year’s iPhone 4S, making streaming, compressing and decompressing information, and handling memory a breeze for Apple’s latest phone innovation.

The iPhone 5 runs on iOS 6, which features more than 200 new features for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. The operating system is extremely nimble and smooth on the new iPhone 5. Applications are far more responsive, and games in particular are lightning-fast and lag-free. Besides welcome additions like Passbook and enhancements to Siri, a real sticking point in iOS 6 has been the new Maps application -- Tim Cook apologized to customers this morning for its lackluster performance -- but despite its shortcomings, the application really does shine on the iPhone 5, especially with its real-time rendering of 3D satellite images as you fly over cities and countryside. There is much to improve, but it's a great start.

Apple sells the iPhone 5 in two color combinations - black and slate, or white and silver - and at three different storage capacities: The cheapest iPhone 5 with 16 GB of space sells for $199, and after that, it’s $299 for 32 GB of space, and $399 for 64GB of space. Customers are not charged extra for the LTE feature, as the chip is included in all phone models.