By Claire Reilly

Apple has unveiled the newest iteration of the iPhone in San Francisco overnight, with a larger screen, a thinner and lighter design, a new operating system and a smaller connection port than its predecessor. The iPhone 5 will be available in Australia from 8am next Friday (21 September), with pre-orders beginning tomorrow, and will be compatible with Australian 4G.

With the very self-referential tagline “the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone”, the device features a 4-inch Retina display (making it taller, though not wider, than the iPhone 4S) and a 7.6-millimetre thick anodised aluminium body that is 18 per cent thinner than the 4S, making it the “thinnest smartphone in the world” according to Apple.

The new taller and thinner iPhone design (story continues below)

The phone will also run on Apple’s new iOS 6, which includes an updated Siri interface designed to work in more countries and with more languages, as well as a Passbook feature which collates digital documents such as concert tickets, flight tickets, loyalty cards and coupons in the one place. iOS 6 also sees the brand part ways with Google’s mapping service in favour of its own Apple-designed Maps app.

The iPhone 5 features an A6 processing chip “with up to twice the CPU and graphics performance” of the 4S, which is designed to do the grunt work in powering the Retina display, while also maximising battery life. In addition, it features an updated 8-megapixel iSight camera that is 25 per cent smaller than its predecessor and a front-facing FaceTime HD camera that is capable of recording HD 720p video.

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Perhaps most interestingly for retailers and accessories suppliers, Apple has built a new Lightning connector into the iPhone 5, which it says is “smaller, smarter and more durable than the previous connector” and which features “an adaptive interface that uses only the signals that each accessory requires, and it’s reversible so you can instantly connect to your accessories”.

Apple will sell a “Lightning-to-30-pin Adapter” in order for consumers to connect their iPhone 5 to accessories – including products such as docking stations and speaker systems – that use the older 30-pin connection. The adapter is available now for AUD $35.

The new connector will ensure that many consumers will be able to be upsold on an adaptor, but may also leave retailers in a difficult position when it comes to selling legacy stock that still utilises the 30-pin connection.

When it is goes on sale, the new iPhone itself will be available for RRP AUD $799 for the 16GB model, $899 for the 32GB model and $999 for the 64GB model. It will be bundled with newly-designed EarPods headphones, which will be also available for separate purchase for RRP $35.

Optus has already launched a pre-order website, and confirmed that the iPhone 5 will be compatible with its 4G network.

Apple has also updated the design of its headphones.