SAN FRANCISCO — For the first time, the iPhone is growing. After sticking for five years to the same screen size, Apple revealed a new phone Wednesday that is taller and has a bigger screen.
The iPhone 5 will go on sale in the U.S. and eight other countries on Sept. 21.
Even though it is taller than the iPhone 4S, it is lighter, thanks to a new screen technology that makes the whole phone thinner.
The bigger screen — 4 inches measured diagonally — creates room for another row of icons on the screen and lets widescreen movies fit better. Previous iPhone models carried 3.5-inch screens.
In another big change, the iPhone 5 will come with the capability to connect to the fastest new wireless data networks in the U.S. and overseas.
Cecilia Depret-Bixio, an 18-year-old freshman at the College of Charleston, is eager to get her hands on the just-announced device. On her way out of the Apple Store on King Street Wednesday, Depret-Bixio said her HTC EVO contract is up and “everything revolves around the iPhone now,” not to mention all her friends have one.
“I’m the only one that doesn’t,” she said.
Peter Williams, on the other hand, was doubly dismissive of Apple’s big announcement. Looking up from his iPhone 4S outside the company’s store, Williams wondered why the event wasn’t broadcast live on the Internet.
“You have a worldwide market and you’re not streaming it?” he groused. “That makes no sense to me.”
Williams, 31, also has no plans to buy the new model of Apple’s flagship product, pronouncing himself already “up-to-date.”
“No, of course you wait until the iPhone 5S — or Q or whatever you call it — comes out,” he said.
There was little in Wednesday’s announcement that surprised Apple watchers. Despite the pains the company takes to hide its plans, the rough launch date, the new screen and the capability to connect to LTE networks had been reported for months by blogs and analysts.
“There was nothing unexpected in terms of the new features of the iPhone,” said Tavis McCourt, an analyst with Raymond James.
That’s a contrast to last year, when Apple watchers were first surprised by a delay in the launch, and then by the fact that the phone that was revealed was the iPhone 4S rather than a more radical update.
It’s the year’s most anticipated phone. The number Apple can sell, analysts believe, is limited mostly by the production capacity of its suppliers. There had been concerns that supplies could be tight. Even so, analysts were expecting Apple to sell tens of millions of phones before the year is out.
Another surprise was that the phone will be 18 percent thinner than its predecessor. The company was expected to use the space freed up by the new screen technology to expand the phone’s battery, not make the phone thinner.
The Post and Courier contributed to this story.