We could have taken the easy way out and designed something more reasonable and less remarkable. But we didn’t. If the technology didn’t exist, we invented it. If a component wasn’t small enough, we re-imagined it. If convention was standing in the way, we left it behind. The result is iPhone 5: the thinnest, lightest, fastest iPhone ever.
iPhone 5 is just 7.6 millimeters thin. To make that happen, Apple engineers had to think small, component by component. They created a nano-SIM card, which is 44 percent smaller than a micro-SIM. They also developed a unique cellular solution for iPhone 5. The conventional approach to building LTE into a world phone uses two chips — one for voice, one for data. On iPhone 5, both are on a single chip. The intelligent, reversible Lightning connector is 80 percent smaller than the 30-pin connector. The 8MP iSight camera has even more features - like panorama and dynamic low-light mode - yet it's 25 percent smaller. And the new A6 chip is up to 2x faster than the A5 chip but 22 percent smaller. Even with so much inside, iPhone 5 is 20 percent lighter and 18 percent thinner than iPhone 4S.
Making a thinner, lighter iPhone meant even the display had to be thinner. Apple engineers accomplished that by creating the first Retina display with integrated touch technology. Which means instead of a separate layer of touch electrodes between display pixels, the pixels do double duty — acting as touch-sensing electrodes while displaying the image at the same time. With one less layer between you and what you see on iPhone 5, you experience more clarity than ever before. All on a display that’s 30 percent thinner than before.
Never before has this degree of fit and finish been applied to a phone. Take the glass inlays on the back of iPhone 5, for instance. During manufacturing, each iPhone 5 aluminum housing is photographed by two high-powered 29MP cameras. A machine then examines the images and compares them against 725 unique inlays to find the most precise match for every single iPhone.
Look at iPhone 5 and you can’t help but notice the exquisite chamfer surrounding the display. A crystalline diamond cuts this beveled edge. It’s what gives iPhone 5 its distinctive lines. Fitting for a phone so brilliant.
The back of iPhone 5 is made of anodized 6000 series aluminum — the same material used in Apple notebooks — with inlays along the top and bottom made of ceramic glass (on the white and silver model) or pigmented glass (on the black and slate model).
During the assembly process, each iPhone 5 aluminum housing is photographed by two high-powered 29MP cameras. A machine then compares the images with 725 uniquely cut inlays to find a precise match.
Although the surface of the iSight camera is as clear as glass, it’s not made of glass. It’s actually sapphire crystal, whose hardness is second only to diamond on the scale of transparent materials. That means the surface of the lens is far less likely to scratch.
Diamond-Cut Beveled Edge
A crystalline diamond is used to cut the chamfers of iPhone 5. This process gives the beveled edge its beautiful sheen.
It’s not easy to create earbud-style headphones that not only feel good in your ears, but also sit securely in your ears. That’s because everyone’s ears are different. Using optical scans combined with silicone molding, Apple designers created 3D models of various ear types to find a common shape across many different people. That shape led to the unique look of the new Apple EarPods. Unlike traditional circular earbuds, their design is defined by the geometry of the ear. Which makes them more comfortable for more people than any other earbud-style headphones.
They’re more stable and durable, too. Apple engineers asked more than 600 people to test over 100 iterations of the Apple EarPods. Testers ran on treadmills in extreme heat and extreme cold. They performed various cardio workouts. They were even asked to shake their heads side to side, up and down. The result: Apple EarPods provide stronger protection from sweat and water, and they’re remarkably stable in the ear. Which means they stay in, even when you’re on the go.
At the same time Apple designers were trying to define an ideal earbud shape, Apple sound engineers — acousticians — were focused on improving sound quality. First, they established a target sound for the Apple EarPods. That target: a person sitting in a room listening to high-quality speakers.
The biggest determinant of what you hear from any speaker is the movement of its diaphragm. The inward and outward motion is what creates sound. But earbud speaker diaphragms are typically made from a single material, which can limit sound output.
So Apple acousticians re-engineered an earbud speaker diaphragm with both rigid and flexible materials to minimize sound loss and maximize sound output. Adding to the superior audio quality are strategically placed acoustic vents. The most notable of these vents is the one located in the stem of each EarPod. It allows air inside the stem, which acts as an acoustic chamber, to flow out. So you hear deeper, richer bass tones. The overall audio quality of Apple EarPods is so impressive, they rival high-end headphones that cost hundreds of dollars more.