Every iPhone incarnation is naturally better than the one that precedes it, but the iPhone 5 represents the first time that Apple has increased the screen size. Going from 3.5 inches to four is a bigger jump than it seems.
Then you get to the speedy A6 chip, improved camera, and the robust battery life -- 8 hours of talk time and data browsing or 10 hours of WiFi browsing -- and you begin to see that Apple's iPhone 5 wants to replace all of your gadgetry.
Why do you need a video game console, a digital camera, or even a laptop when the mother of all tech Swiss army knives is now in your hand?
One of the problems with Apple's annual updates is that it can't respond as quickly to some industry trends. Rival smarpthones have been available for the growing markets supporting 4G LTE for some time, though it was widely expected that last year's iPhone 4S rollout would've been LTE compatible.
Now Apple is finally aboard the speedy platform.
Lacking 4G LTE -- and the high price of Apple phones in countries that don't subsidize smartphones -- has put Apple at a disadvantage to Google's (GOOG) Android in the past. Industry tracker Gartner reports that Android's global market share has grown from 43% to 64% over the past year, while Apple has held steady in the 18% to 19% range.
Having 4G LTE won't overcome the pricing problem overseas, but it's a good start.
Despite all of the clever and occasionally annoying Apple ads starring celebrities showing off its voice-activated personal assistant, Siri has been little more than a novelty.
Well, Apple is hoping to change that in the iOS 6 update that is part of iPhone 5 and will be available to more recent iPhones next Wednesday.
Ask Siri the score of a particular game and you'll get it -- along with the box score. Ask Siri about dining options and it can work with OpenTable (OPEN) to confirm your reservation. Ask Siri if there are any good movies playing, and up comes Rotten Tomatoes with critic reviews of the latest theatrical releases.
Siri has been largely a cocktail party pastime before. It may be truly useful now.
J.P. Morgan's Michael Feroli put out a research report earlier this week that puts the new phone's release in jaw-dropping perspective.
If Apple is able to sell just 8 million more iPhones next quarter, that would be enough to bump GDP 0.33% higher on an annualized basis. Since J.P. Morgan is targeting just 2% in overall GDP growth this year, we're talking about a rate would account for a sixth of the country's economic improvement (again, on an annualized basis).
Feroli's math is pretty straightforward. Apple generates a little more than $600 off of each iPhone. Don't get caught up in the $199 price that customers are paying. Wireless carriers make up the difference, sending Apple roughly $400 to subsidize buyers willing to stick with them for at least two years. It adds up to $4.8 billion in revenue for Apple, but Feroli backs out an estimate of $200 per phone to account for overseas components. This leads him to a $3.2 billion positive impact on GDP during the upcoming holiday quarter.
It's not just the iPhones. It's not just the hiring boom at hundreds of Apple Stores, where existing employees received pay raises of up to 25% earlier this summer.
Think about the brisk business at AT&T (T), Verizon (VZ), and Sprint Nextel (S). Think about the wireless carriers that circle the globe offering the iPhone 5.
Now let's get shipping. Reports claim that FedEx (FDX) is telling employees of the parcel delivery company to expect a "surge volume" event starting Sep. 21. Gee. That just happens to be the day that the iPhone 5 becomes available.
It's not just Apple cashing in on the new iPhone 5. The world's going cha-ching.