19 Important Questions and Answers About the iPhone 5

iPhone 5
iPhone 5. Cameron Spencer/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Hardware and Software

What's New in the iPhone 5 Compared to the iPhone 4S?

There are 4 main changes in the iPhone 5:

  1. Larger screen: The iPhone 5 sports a 4-inch screen, as opposed to the 4S's 3.5-inch screen.
  2. 4G LTE support: Cellular data downloads much faster on the iPhone 5, thanks to its support for 4G LTE.
  3. Faster processor: The iPhone 5 is built around the Apple A6 processor, which the company claims is twice as fast as the A5 processor in the 4S.
  4. Lightning connector: Ditching the old 30-pin Dock Connector, the iPhone 5 uses the new, smaller 9-pin Lightning connector.

Is the New Screen Still a Retina Display?

Yes. Thanks to its 1136 x 640 resolution, it offers 326 pixels per inch (ppi), which qualifies under Apple's definition as a Retina Display.

Does the 4G LTE Work On All Networks Worldwide?

Not quite. Because the 4G LTE networks around the world use different technologies, and because the iPhone 5 doesn't have a chip that can work with all of them, there are technically three models of the iPhone 5. Those models are a GSM-, CDMA-, and an Asian/European-compatible model. Because the three models don't have the same chips, each type of iPhone 5 can only work with its compatible network. So, if you buy a GSM iPhone 5, it can't work on a CDMA network.

Is the iPhone 5 Compatible with iOS 6?

Yes. It ships with iOS 6 pre-installed and supports all of iOS 6's features.

Can You Use FaceTime Over Cellular Networks?

While iOS 6 supports using FaceTime over cellular networks, whether you can use it or not depends on your carrier. AT&T requires that users switch to a shared data plan for that, while Sprint and Verizon allow customers to use FaceTime this way without additional charges.

Carriers and Costs

What Carriers Is the iPhone 5 On?

In the U.S., AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon all offer the iPhone 5.

What About T-Mobile?

Not yet, unfortunately, though rumor has it that T-Mobile will get the iPhone 5 in 2013.

What Is the Length of the Contract?

As with all previous iPhones (except the original), if you want to get the best price on the iPhone 5, you'll have to sign a two-year contract.

I'm a New Customer/Upgrade-Eligible with AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon. What Will I Pay?

In that situation, and if you sign a two-year contract, you'll pay US$199 for the 16 GB model, $299 for the 32 GB version, or $399 for the 64 GB edition.

Upgrades and Switching

I'm a Current iPhone Customer. Am I Eligible for A Discounted Upgrade?

It depends on your carrier. In the past, some carriers have offered their existing customers discounts on upgrades to the latest iPhone. However, at the release of the iPhone 4S, some carriers didn't. Check with your carrier to find out your pricing.

I'm a Current Non-iPhone, AT&T/Sprint/Verizon Customer and Am Not Eligible for an Upgrade. What Do I Pay?

Pretty close to the full price, unfortunately. Check your eligibility with your carrier to find out your price, but expect to pay close to $500 for your iPhone 5.

Do Contracts Reset for Current iPhone Owners?

If you're upgrade eligible, you'll likely need to sign a new two-year agreement to get the best price on the iPhone 5. If you're not eligible, though, you're likely bound by your current contract. Check with your carrier for full details.

I'm a current AT&T or Verizon Customer. What Does It Cost to Switch to Another Carrier?

Expect to pay the Early Termination Fee (ETF) if you're still under contract, plus the cost of the subsidized iPhone. Depending on your ETF (which is usually pro-rated based on the number of months you've been a subscriber), you could easily be looking at nearly US$550 to switch to a new phone company.

What Are the ETFs for Each Carrier?

  • AT&T: $325
  • Sprint: $350
  • Verizon: $350

Data Plans

What Do iPhone 5 Data Plans Cost?

It depends on whether you get an individual plan or a family sharing plan. Check out individual iPhone plans here.

What Is Cost of Exceeding Your Data Plan?

Generally speaking, with AT&T and Verizon, you'll pay between $10 and $20 for an additional 1 GB of data. Sprint's data is unlimited, so there's no limit on use.

Is Tethering Available?

  • AT&T: Yes, an additional 2 GB of data for $20/month
  • Sprint: Yes, an additional 5 GB of data for $30/month
  • Verizon: Yes, included in shared data plans


When Can I Buy It in the U.S.?

The iPhone goes on sale on Sept. 21, 2012. Pre-orders begin Sept. 14, 2012.

When Does It Go On Sale Worldwide?

The iPhone will be on sale in about 40 countries by the end of September and in 100 countries by the end of 2012.