Apple unveils iPhone 5; set to release on September 21

Yesterday, as expected, Apple unveiled the iPhone 5, the thinnest and lightest iPhone ever. Completely redesigned, the new iPhone features a 4-inch Retina display; an Apple-designed A6 chip; and LTE and DC-HSDPA support. The iPhone 5 runs on the iOS 6 operating system which includes over 200 new features including the new Maps app, Facebook integration, Passbook organization, and more Siri features.

“iPhone 5 is the most beautiful consumer device that we’ve ever created,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “We’ve packed an amazing amount of innovation and advanced technology into a thin and light, jewel-like device with a stunning 4-inch Retina display, blazing fast A6 chip, ultrafast wireless, even longer battery life; and we think customers are going to love it.”

The iPhone 5 measures as the thinnest smartphone in the world with a 7.6 mm anodized aluminum body that is 18% thinner and 20% lighter than the iPhone 4S. The A6 chip allows for maximized performance and power efficiency to support the new features of the iPhone 5 while delivering better battery life. And twice the CPU and graphics performance means everything you do on the iPhone — from launching apps to loading web pages — is even faster.

The 8 megapixel iSight camera also got a redesign. It's now 25% smaller than the camera in the iPhone 4S. It also has a panorama feature that lets you capture up to 28 megapixels by simply moving the camera across a scene in one smooth motion. Improved stabilization, face detection for up to 10 faces, and the ability to take still photos as you record are all new video features. A new FaceTime HD front facing camera makes FaceTime calls incredibly clear and can also be used for self portraits and recording 720p HD video. iPhone 5 also allows you to share photos with friends and family using iCloud’s Shared Photo Streams.

Lastly, the iPhone 5 has a new Lightning connector that is smaller and more durable than the previous connector. The all-digital Lightning connector uses only the signals that each accessory requires, and it's reversible so you can instantly connect to your accessories.

While these are all great features, I do wonder if the iPhone 5 offers that "wow" factor that will make consumers go out and grab the newer version. Retailing for $199 for the 16GB model, $299 for the 32GB model, and $399 for the 64GB model, the iPhone 5 seems to lack that must-have feature. When the iPhone first launched, it was revolutionary, but now it all seems like smoke and mirrors.

It looks like we'll just have to wait and see. The iPhone 5 will be available in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the UK on Friday, September 21 with pre-orders beginning Friday, September 14. It can be purchased from the Apple Online Store, Apple's retail stores, and through AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and select Apple Authorized Resellers. Meanwhile, the iPhone 4S will be available for just $99 while the iPhone 4 will be free with a two year contract with certain carriers.

Will you be getting an upgrade?