After months of rumors, speculation and discussion, one of the most important announcements in history was made on September 12. It dominated every conversation in the workplace, around the water cooler and in the classrooms. On that day, it was said that people were seen with an “extra hop in their step” and that birds seemed to chirp just a bit louder and with more glee. The sun was brighter than… ok, I guess that’s enough sarcasm. Yes, the iPhone 5 will be released this week. But, is it enough of an upgrade for you to replace your current iPhone? Will it cause Android users to switch their allegiance? What’s the big deal anyway?

Let’s start with what we do know about the iPhone 5: the specs and design.

The Screen

Apple decided to get with the program and finally make the screen larger and body thinner. A 4” screen compared with the 3.5” on the iPhone 4S makes for more pixels on the screen and a better overall viewing experience, especially when watching movies and running other apps. But in the smartphone world, it is not the biggest. In comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S3 has a screen size of 4.8”. The iPhone 5 is 18% thinner and 20% lighter than the previous model, which is nice as well.

The Processor and Power

Apple’s A6 processor is the choice here. It is almost double the speed of the iPhone 4S for apps and games. Bottom line is that it will be silky smooth.

Connectivity

4G LTE! Yep, the iPhone 5 is finally LTE capable. However, lots of Android phones have this feature already, so it’s nothing new. Of course it will have both 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi functionality and Bluetooth. If you own lots of other Apple products, like an iMac or Apple TV, you can stream or output your videos and photos to it. If not, you’re forced to buy “not yet released” cables to connect via HDMI. Also, Apple has taken the liberty of changing the power connection on the new model, basically forcing people to buy new adapters for any of their fancy accessories they have purchased in the past. Thanks a lot Apple.

Camera

The camera is the same 8 megapixel camera as the previous model, but they have sped it up, allowing for faster capture. It can also produce panoramic images! Cool. The video camera can shoot up to 1080p HD video and has improved video stabilization. Facetime, Apple’s video conferencing app, can also now transmit HD video.

Software

The iPhone 5 will have the new iOS 6 operating system. Key features will include improved turn-by-turn navigation and maps, better Facebook integration and faster web browsing among other things. Of course Siri is back and better than ever. If you’re not familiar with Siri, it is kind of like a digital personal assistant. Siri can answer questions, make recommendations and perform actions all by interacting with you and searching the internet. If it all sounds gimmicky to you, it kind of is, but a lot of fun nonetheless.

Pricing and Model Options

The new iPhone 5 will be available in both black and white colors. There will be a 16 GB model which will retail for $199, 32 GB for $299 and 64 GB for $399. Of course this is with a new 2 year contract. Additionally, the iPhone 4S will drop to $99 and the iPhone 4 will be free with a new contract.

Ok, so is the iPhone 5 worth spending your hard-earned money on? My answer would be yes….and no.

Yes if you have an iPhone 4. There is a significant jump in speed and features to warrant an upgrade to the iPhone 5, but if you have a 4S then the features are not so significant.

Yes if you have a lot of other Apple products. The seamless integration with the iPad, iMac and Apple TV will make for a completely enjoyable and hassle-free experience.

Yes if you want that “WOW” factor. Let’s face it, even with the increased popularity of the new Samsung Galaxy S3 and other new Android phones, the iPhone 5 WILL be the phone to get this fall and upcoming holiday shopping season. People will ogle at your device, staring in amazement as you ask Siri “What will the weather be like on Black Friday?” and she tells you to make sure and bring an umbrella!

No if you love your Android phone. There are many Android phones that will do the same things as the iPhone 5 and in some cases, do them better. The Samsung Galaxy S3 is loaded with a bigger screen size, better storage options and is very comparable to the iPhone 5 in the rest of its features. The S3 is the chief competitor of the iPhone 5 without a doubt.

No if you don’t have many Apple products. If you don’t own other Apple products, you will be buying Apple-specific docks, connectors and other proprietary accessories as well as being limited on how you can view your media and information. In short, it makes the Apple ecosystem somewhat less important without multiple devices.

No if you want to save money. At a starting price point of $199, the iPhone 5 is pretty pricey. There are many other Android options to give you a lot of bang for your buck.

In closing, I think it ultimately comes down to a matter of personal preference. Do your research and go play with the iPhone 5. Compare it with the Samsung Galaxy S3 or another high-end Android phone. In the end, you should choose the smartphone that suits you best. The iPhone 5 looks to be a great phone now, but in the quickly evolving and fierce world of smartphones, that could change in about 15 minutes! Of course you could always ask Siri, but my guess is that she is a bit biased on the matter.

(Editor's Note: Ryan Van Langen is cofounder and partner of PCRx Computer Solutions, a local Tucson computer company. For computer and technology related questions, or to schedule an appointment with PCRx, call 1-855-ASK-PCRX (1-855-275-7279) or email support@pcrxonline.com. For more information about PCRx Computer Solutions, visit www.pcrxonline.com.)

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