SAN FRANCISCO -- The iPhone 5 is finally here.
After months of rampant rumors and hype, Apple debuted its latest smartphone Wednesday in front of a packed house at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, claiming it is the world’s thinnest.
The iPhone 5 features a larger screen and weighs 112 grams, or about 4 ounces, which is 20% lighter than the iPhone 4S. It is also 18% thinner, Apple's marketing chief Phil Schiller said. It has an improved A6 processor that is twice as fast as its predecessor, high-speed 4G LTE connectivity and a widescreen aspect ratio.
Apple has also improved the device's battery life and updated both of its cameras, giving its front camera 720p HD video. The company also announced a smaller dock connector for the device and a new cable charger named Lightning that is 80% smaller than its predecessor.
Siri got a makeover as well, and can now tell users the scores of sports games and post status updates to Facebook.
The iPhone 5's dock connector has also been made smaller.
The device will be available in black and white. It will be available for $199, $299 and $399 for 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models, respectively. Pre-orders begin Friday and the iPhone 5 will launch Sept. 21.
The company said iOS 6 will arrive as an update for many of its iOS devices Sept. 19.
The invitation-only Apple event, which began at 10 a.m. Pacific time, is still ongoing. Cook is expected to announce upgrades to other products, including the iPod, soon, so check back for updates.
For live tweets from the event, click here.
The launch of a new iPhone will mean huge sales for the Cupertino, Calif., tech giant.
Since the original iPhone debuted in 2007, Apple has sold more than 244 million units and has been credited with upending the smartphone industry.
Sales of iPhones and related products and services accounted for 46% of Apple’s revenue in the most recent quarter and 58% in the previous quarter. In its last fiscal year, the company reported revenue of $47.1 billion from sales of iPhones and related product and services, an 87% increase over the year before.
Analysts estimate the iPhone has a gross margin of about 50%, making it an extremely profitable device for the world's most valuable company. Nearly two-thirds of Apple's profits come from the iPhone.
With sales of Apple's iPhone 4S and earlier models dropping off in recent months, analysts believe there is huge pent-up demand for the iPhone 5. Many have predicted that Apple could sell up to 10 million iPhones in the first 10 days, and up to 50 million in the holiday quarter.