iPhone 5 Features: Hardware and Software

Introduced: Sept. 12, 2012
Discontinued: Sept. 10, 2013

The iPhone 5 is an example of Apple's pattern of introducing major new features on phones with full model numbers. For instance, the iPhone 4 and 4S both use essentially the same design, while it's immediately clear that the iPhone 5 is different from those models. 

The iPhone 5 was the first 4G iPhone. Find out why that wasn't the iPhone 4 or 4S.

iPhone 5 Hardware Features

The most significant new hardware features of the iPhone 5 are:

  • A 4-inch Retina Display screen with a 1136 x 640 resolution. All previous iPhones had 3.5-inch screens. Like earlier Retina Displays, this screen packs in 326 pixels per inch.
  • The Apple A6 processor. The iPhone 5 is the first device that uses this processor. The company claims it offers twice the performance of the A5 chip in the iPhone 4S.
  • 4G LTE networking support and support for DC-HSDPA networks.
  • Dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi (support for 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks).
  • Support for panoramic photos.
  • Lightning connector. This smaller, reversible connector uses just 9 pins as opposed to the earlier 30-pin Dock Connector, allowing for a thinner phone.

Many other key elements of the phone are the same as on the iPhone 4S, including FaceTime, A-GPS, Bluetooth, and audio and video features.

For an in-depth look at the iPhone 5's buttons, ports, and features, check out Hardware Features of the iPhone 5.

The most obvious change is that the iPhone 5 screen is larger—4 inches as opposed to the 3.5-inch screen from the 4S—and thus the phone is taller. But more than just a larger screen sets the iPhone 5 apart. There are a number of under-the-hood improvements that make it a notable upgrade.

iPhone 5 with earpods

Apple Inc.

iPhone 5 Cameras

Like previous models, the iPhone 5 has two cameras, one on its back and the other facing the user for FaceTime calls.

The back camera on the iPhone 5 takes 8-megapixel photos and records video in 1080p HD. Despite those similarities to the iPhone 4S, a number of things are different. Thanks to new hardware—including a sapphire lens and the A6 processor—Apple claims that photos taken with this camera are more faithful to true colors, are captured up to 40% faster, and are better in low light. It also adds support for up to 28-megapixel panoramic photos, created via software.

The user-facing FaceTime camera is also substantially upgraded. It offers 720p HD video and 1.2-megapixel photos.

iPhone 5 Software Features

Significant software additions to the iPhone 5, which arrive thanks to the pre-installed iOS 6, include:

  • Passbook (now called Wallet).
  • Apple-created Maps app, which includes turn-by-turn GPS navigation.
  • Improved Siri features.
  • Do Not Disturb.
  • FaceTime over cellular networks, where available.
  • Facebook integration.

iPhone 5 Capacity and Price

  16 GB 32 GB 64 GB
With two-year contract US$199 $299 $399
Without two-year contract $449 $549 $649

iPhone 5 Battery Life

all times in hours

  Talk Internet Audio Video
iPhone 5 8 (3G) 8 (4G LTE)
8 (3G)
10 (Wi-Fi)
40 10

iPhone 5 Earbuds

The iPhone 5 ships with Apple's EarPods earbuds, which are new with the Apple devices released in Fall 2012. EarPods are designed to fit more securely in the user's ear and provide better sound quality, according to Apple.

U.S. Phone Companies

  • AT&T
  • Sprint
  • T-Mobile (not at launch, but T-Mobile subsequently added support for the iPhone)
  • Verizon


  • Black
  • White

iPhone 5 Size and Weight

Dimensions in inches; weight in ounces

  Height Width Thickness Weight
iPhone 5 4.87 2.31 0.30 3.95


The iPhone 5 was released on Sept. 21, 2012, in U.S., Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

It debuted on Sept 28, 2012, 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.

The phone was available in 100 countries by December 2012.

Fate of the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4

In keeping with the pattern established with the iPhone 4S, the introduction of the iPhone 5 didn't mean that all earlier models were discontinued. While the iPhone 3GS was retired at this point, the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 were still sold for a while.

The 4S was available for $99 in a 16 GB model, while the 8 GB iPhone 4 was free with a two-year contract.

Also Known As: 6th generation iPhone, iPhone 5, iPhone 5G, iPhone 6G

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