POSTED: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 3:00pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 3:45pm
NATIONAL NEWS (CNN) — Apple on Wednesday announced the latest version of the iPhone.
The iPhone 5 looks similar to previous models but has a larger screen and is lighter and thinner than the iPhone 4S. The company says the larger screen will make it easier to check and send e-mails and to view Web pages with the phone in your hand.
The phone also comes with a new, faster processor called the Apple A6; and it connects to mobile carriers with a 4G LTE connection, making for speedier Internet browsing.
"It just screams," said Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller, in introducing the device.
The iPhone 5 starts at $200 with a two-year mobile contract and will be available on September 21 in the United States. Pre-orders for the device begin on Friday.
The iPhone 5 is 18% thinner and 20% lighter than the current version, the iPhone 4S. It has a 4-inch screen, measured diagonally, compared to a 3.5-inch screen on previous versions of the phone. It is the same width as the iPhone 4S, but is taller than that phone; and the iPhone 5 is made entirely of glass and aluminum.
Those features are likely to be popular with consumers. Another, however, may cause some backlash. The new iPhone comes with a different-sized charging cord, meaning speakers and radios designed to work with the old iPhone cord won't function seamlessly with the new iPhone. The company did create an adapter, however, so that the old devices aren't useless.
Apple calls this new cord "lightning," and says it is 80% smaller than the previous iPhone cord.
During the press conference, which is still ongoing, Apple also announced an update to its mobile operation system, iOS 6, which accommodates the larger iPhone 5 screen.
The new operating system adds another row of icons to the phone's home screen; includes a new, 3-D version of digital maps; and has a feature called Passbook, which lets people pull up airline tickets or payment apps from the locked home screen.
For many tech fans, the fall Apple press event is the highlight of a season filled with gadget announcements and releases. Last week, Amazon unveiled its latest Kindle Fire tablets, and Nokia and Motorola announced new smartphones. HTC has an announcement scheduled for later in the month.
The companies are rushing to get their products our in time for the holiday season, where they will battle it out for consumer dollars in an increasingly crowded mobile device market.
Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone six years ago on a stage just one block away in the Moscone Center. Since then the iPhone has taken off, selling around 244 million units around the world. According to research firm IDC, the iPhone and it's iOS operating system makes up 16.9% of the worldwide smartphone market, coming in behind all phones running the Android operating system, which accounts for 68.1% of the world's smartphones.
This is Apple's sixth iPhone model, though if Apple follows the same naming conventions it has used so far, this new phone would be called the iPhone 5.
The winning streak has carried over to Apple's stock price, which hit an all time high of $683.29 a share last Friday.