SAN FRANCISCO -- For the first time, the iPhone is growing. After sticking for five years to the same screen size, Apple on Wednesday revealed a new phone that's taller, with a bigger screen.
The iPhone 5 will go on sale in Canada, the U.S. and eight other countries Sept. 21.
Even though it's taller than the iPhone 4S, it's lighter, thanks to a new screen technology that makes the whole phone thinner.
The bigger screen -- four inches measured diagonally -- creates room for another row of icons on the screen and lets widescreen movies fit better. Previous iPhone models carried 3.5-inch screens.
The bigger screen moves Apple somewhat closer to competing smartphones, but the iPhone is still small compared with its main rivals. Samsung Electronics Co., Apple's biggest competitor, has increased the screen size of its flagship phone line every year, and it's now 4.8 inches on the diagonal, about 45 per cent larger than the one on the new iPhone. The new iPhone is lighter than Samsung's new Galaxy S III. Samsung says global sales of the S III have surpassed 20 million in about three months. The S III came out in Europe in May and in the U.S. in June.
Among devices with even bigger screens -- tablet computers -- Apple is dominant. This summer, Apple watchers were expecting the company to trot out a smaller version of its iPad when it launched the iPhone 5. But those expectations have been adjusted recently, and that launch is now believed to be next month.
In another big change, the iPhone 5 will come with the capability to connect to the fastest new wireless data networks in the U.S. and overseas.
There was little in Wednesday's announcement that surprised Apple watchers. Despite the pains the company takes to hide its plans, the rough launch date, the new screen and the capability to connect to so-called LTE networks had been reported for months by blogs and analysts.
"There was nothing unexpected in terms of the new features of the iPhone," said Tavis McCourt, an analyst with Raymond James.
That's a contrast to last year, when Apple watchers were first surprised by a delay in the launch, and then by the fact the phone that was revealed was the iPhone 4S rather than a more radical update.
One thing that did surprise McCourt this year: Apple is launching the phone in so many countries so quickly. On Day One, the phone will be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the U.K., besides the U.S.
A week later, it will go on sale in 22 more countries, including Italy, Poland and Spain.
It's the year's most anticipated phone. The number Apple can sell, analysts believe, is limited mostly by the production capacity of its suppliers. There had been concerns supplies could be tight. Even so, analysts were expecting Apple to sell tens of millions of phones before the year is out.
That makes the iPhone 5 a formidable threat to BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (TSX:RIM).
The Waterloo, Ont.-based company -- once known as Canada's high-tech heavyweight -- has been working to turn around its operations as consumers switched to the iPhone and other smartphones running Google's Android operating system.
The company's future success rides on the unveiling of its BlackBerry 10 operating system, which has suffered two major delays that have pushed its debut into early 2013 -- past the holiday shopping season that Apple has squarely in its sights.
Another surprise was that the phone will be 18 per cent thinner than its predecessor.
In Canada, Bell says it will also start taking pre-orders Friday.
-- The Associated Press
SAMSUNG and Apple dominate with nearly half of the worldwide market for smartphones. Samsung had an advantage in releasing its flagship Galaxy S III phone months ago.
Samsung says global sales of the S III have surpassed 20 million in a little more than three months. The S III came out in Europe in May and in the U.S. in June. A new iPhone, announced Wednesday, should give Apple a boost as the holiday shopping season approaches.
Here are figures from research firm IDC for worldwide smartphone unit shipments and market share in the second quarter of 2012:
-- Samsung Electronics Co., 50.2 million units, 32.6 per cent share (17 per cent a year earlier)
-- Apple Inc., 26 million units, 16.9 per cent share (18.8 per cent a year earlier)
-- Nokia Corp., 10.2 million units, 6.6 per cent share (15.4 per cent a year earlier)
-- HTC Corp., 8.8 million units, 5.7 per cent share (10.7 per cent a year earlier)
-- ZTE Corp., 8 million units, 5.2 per cent share (1.8 per cent a year earlier)
-- Other, 50.7 million units, 32.9 per cent share (36.2 per cent a year earlier)
-- source: IDC