It’s thinner, lighter and larger than any version yet, but first reactions to Apple’s iPhone 5 — the latest iteration of the company’s signature iPhone smartphone — have been mixed.

Matt Case, a broker with Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realtors in Benzonia, Mich., says the new iPhone’s longer battery life, which Apple says allows for up to eight hours of Web browsing, and its svelte design — 20 percent lighter and 18 percent thinner than its predecessor, the iPhone 4S — will likely spur him to give up his Thunderbolt, an Android phone from HTC.

Though he doesn’t work in the field much anymore, Case anticipates the upgraded 8-megapixel camera, which can shoot sharper photos and video, will be very appealing to agents.

Stephanie Saum, a San Diego-area marketing consultant who has worked with real estate professionals and who is an iPhone 4S user, thinks the "coolest" features are found not in the larger, faster phone but in iOS 6, Apple’s new mobile operating system announced in conjunction with the iPhone 5 release.

IOS 6 features Facebook integration with photos, maps, calendar, contacts and Siri, the operating system’s voice-controlled "assistant." It also features the ability to take panoramic photos (iPhone 4S, iPod 5 and iPhone 5 only) and share photo streams, presumably through social media.

Made of aluminum and glass, the new iPhone has an upgraded camera that works better in low light, and sports a screen that while retaining its iPhone 4 width is now 4 inches long, up from 3.5 inches, allowing a fifth row of apps to appear on the home screen.

The iPhone 5 will also be faster, in terms of network and processing speed, said Phil Schiller, Apple’s chief marketing officer as reported by the New York Times. The iPhone 5 includes a new, faster chip that will help users use applications and download media more quickly, and will also be compatible with LTE, the latest type of high speed network offered by some wireless carriers.

The phone also has three microphones, two more than before, including one on the front, one on the back, and one on the bottom that have been added to enhance the sound quality of phone calls.  

In a move that could be exciting to some and annoying to others, the iPhone 5 also comes with a new, smaller dock connector, called Lightning. That means users of existing iPhone accessories will have to purchase an adapter if they’d like to connect an iPhone 5 to one of those accessories.

Prices start at $199 (with a two-year contract) for the 16-gigabyte model and will be available on carriers AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and Telefonica, among others. Preordering begins this Friday with the phones themselves becoming available on Sept. 21.

Since the iPhone 5 screen is half an inch longer than the iPhone 4’s, some apps designed for the iPhone 4 screen won’t be optimized on the new iPhone 5 until developers update them. Those who don’t need the iPhone 5’s flashy upgrades right away or who don’t want to worry about app lag can grab — with a two-year contract — an iPhone 4S for $99 or an iPhone 4 for free.

A survey Inman News conducted in the summer of 2010 revealed that more real estate professionals and technologists are using iPhones than other smartphones and turn to them more frequently for a range of business activities. Nearly 42 percent of respondents used an iPhone compared with 26 percent who owned a BlackBerry and 19 percent who owned an Android.

Among smartphone users in general, the use of Android phones and iPhones has been rising steadily over the past couple of years, while the use of BlackBerry phones has declined sharply. According to comScore data, Android had a 52 percent market share among U.S. smartphone users during the second quarter of 2012, followed by Apple (33 percent), BlackBerry (9 percent), and Microsoft (4 percent).  

Inman News reporter Andrea Brambila contributed to this story. What do you think of the release? Will the changes affect how you do business? Please let us know in the comments. 

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