As I’m sure you know by now, yesterday Apple held their annual music event where they unveiled their new lineup of iPods for the holiday season as well as took the wraps off of the new iPhone 5.

Well, whatever shreds of wrap there was left, that is. Part leaks and anonymous tips helped the tech sites out basically all the big surprises well ahead of Apple’s official announcements, so there was very little that we didn’t already know was coming.

That’s not to say all the new gadgets aren’t exciting, though. I got to play with all the new toys during a brief hands-on session following Apple’s presentation, and like with all their products before them the new iPhone and iPods feel like you’re holding a little piece of science fiction in your hands. The new devices come with larger screens and are significantly thinner and lighter, but I think it’s the internal upgrades that will have the most impact from a gaming perspective.

The new iPhone, officially named the iPhone 5, is a sexy piece of kit. As expected it comes equipped with a 4-inch Retina Display which makes the screen taller but not wider, with a new resolution of 1136x640 that allows for an extra row of icons on the home screen. Apple improved the clarity and color saturation of the screen, and it’s a noticeable difference. This screen really pops, more so than even the iPhone 4S.

The increase in screen real estate will be a real benefit to iOS gamers, I think. If you’ve ever felt that virtual sticks, d-pad, or buttons have obscured the action while playing (I’m looking at you, Metal Slug 3) then even just this extra few centimeters of stretched screen should make a real difference.

On the flip side, the taller screen means that the top is harder to reach with one hand in portrait mode. I have some pretty large hands, and I can just barely reach the top of the screen with my thumb comfortably. The upper corners are popular spots to put UI elements like pause or settings buttons, and people with smaller hands might feel it’s a bit of a stretch to reach them. I don’t see it being a major issue, but it will be interesting to see how developers build games and apps around the taller screen from a usability standpoint, or if that means they'll forego the portrait orientation for the now-much-friendlier landscape one.

Probably the most surprising thing was just how much lighter the iPhone 5 is. If they hadn’t actually been operational I would have believed they were hollowed out or something. At the same time it still feels like a well-built, high-quality device and still has enough weight to feel substantial. The lighter device will also probably contribute to a better gaming experience, like during long gaming sessions where the weight can start to wear on you.

Here's a brief montage of hands-on video with all the new devices:

The iPhone 5 gets a big bump in performance too, with a new A6 chip that Apple claims is twice as fast as the A5 in the iPhone 4S. Unfortunately there were no games on any of the demo units, so I was stuck just fiddling around with the built-in apps and stuff, but even still you can tell just how zippy this new iPhone is.

This was really noticeable in the new Maps app, which Apple has built themselves and does some crazy 3D rendering. iPhone 5 handles it all beautifully, even when panning and zooming around the little digital 3D cities it displays. It almost felt surreal swiping around a near-perfectly rendered San Francisco using your fingers. It was really impressive, and developers are going to be able to do some really amazing things with games using the new A6 chip.

Then there were the the new iPod touches. These things are going to be just crazy popular. They get the same taller screen as the iPhone 5 and a bump up in performance from the A4 chip to the A5 used in the iPhone 4S. The iPod touch line has long played second fiddle to the current iPhone from a hardware perspective, but I think this time around they’ll be able to keep up pretty well (as long as they have enough RAM, that is). Also, they come in a variety of awesome colors for the first time ever, which I can already tell will be really appealing to those who want an iOS device but don’t want a 2-year phone contract.

Apple has updated the iPod nano too, going back to a more elongated form. This device is just incredibly small, light, and thin, but it doesn’t feel fragile at all. Video playback being back in the Nano is very cool, and the fact that you can watch movies on a little device that’s barely larger than a book of matches is pretty mind-boggling. The iPod shuffle is back this year too, though it isn’t any different except that it comes in all the colors of the nano and touch lines.

These media events usually have Apple showing off the technical prowess of their new devices with games, and yesterday was no different. Natural Motion was there showing off a new app they have coming out called Clumsy Ninja. It features a little ninja character that you can interact with, which doesn’t sound all that exciting on the surface but the tech behind it is really impressive, something Natural Motion is known for. Advanced body movements and AI really brought the little guy to life, so while it’s not the kind of game I typically look forward to it will be interesting to play around with when it comes out.

The real jaw-dropping demo was for Real Racing 3. It looked stunning, as it has previously in its debut trailer, but Firemonkeys also debuted a new feature they’re calling “time-shifted” multiplayer. It allows you to finish your own race and then have your friends compete against your performance at a later time. At first this just sounded like “ghost” racing, but during the demo we saw that you can actually run into and manipulate the saved run of your friend during your own race.

Talking with Rob Murray from Firemonkeys during the demo session, he tells me that the time-shifted run is actually the same run that you set but when someone else is playing it an advanced AI can kick in to make intelligent choices against whatever takes place in the current race it’s being utilized in. So, think of it as your saved “ghost” run augmented with advanced AI that will do everything it can to counteract your opponents moves. It’s really quite brilliant. Rob also hinted, but couldn’t confirm, that you’ll have the ability to race multiple “time-shifted runs” in the same race. I can imagine that it will be really awesome to sit down and download a bunch of your buddies’ runs and race against them at the same time. We’ll see how it all turns out when Real Racing 3 launches later this year.

So that was about it. New iPhone and iPod touches, bigger screens, thinner, lighter, more horsepower on the inside. I have no doubt that this year’s upgrades will make for some seriously mean little gaming machines, and I can’t wait to get my hands on them again when they launch later this month.

[Images via Slash Gear]

  • Slerba Slerssen

    Nokia Lumia 920 has 1280x768 display, smaller pixels, and let's talk about the camera, shall we...

    • blackharon

      Ok, but lets talk about the double weight, lack of options re: memory space and previous gen bluetooth capabilities.

      Not to mention App Store content...

      • PinoyTeens.Net

        Let's not forget that it DOESN'T run iOS.

      • immortalbk

        And No dates when it will be shipped (Ok....maybe Oct or Nov) and No price!

    • quietstorms

      LOL, you're a funny guy. What you didn't mention is that the actual ppi difference is something like 330 (Lumia) vs. iPhone (326) and forgot to mention at these resolutions, individual pixels with a ppi count above 300 are imperceptible to the human eye with 20/20 vision.

      Secondly, not even Nokia can live up to the pictures they show.

      Thirdly, this a mobile gaming site and WP7/8 has virtually no app ecosystem to speak of.

      • Mike

        I agree. The kicker here isn't the hardware, it's the software and app ecosystem. I own both iPhone 4 and a Nokia 900, and I got over the dazzle of the Windows Phone platform pretty darn quickly. The apps are a joke, the UI is new at first, but gets stale and very plain... Too simple. Things like the calendar are a pain to read and figure out.

        Needless to say it's been in a box. I've been sticking to the iPhone 4 until this new 5 came out.

        I love how people throw Windows out there so fast, when if they really used it they'd realize how shallow the experience is, no matter what the hardware is like on that phone.

      • TheShahnameh

        And the utter lack of apps and games, which make or break ANY mobile nowadays!

    • The_Unflattered

      Let's talk about it. WP7 isn't anywhere near as organized as the iOS, and I'll wager WP8 will be a tricked-out variation of 7 with some new fringe and tassel, but the whole design is wrong-headed. On top of which, the WP apps (and app store) flat-out suck compared to what Apple has built. Sure, maybe in 2 years, it'll be worth looking at, IF WP even exists in two years. Meantime, iOS 6 is ready to crank out #%$@'ing Skyrim, kid.

      Trust me. I'm objective. I bought a Lumia 900, 2-3 months ago, just because I was ready to dive into a new OS; totally open to the experience. I was SORELY disappointed. Traded it in for a $210 credit toward the iPhone 5. There's just no comparison.

      So don't try to sell anyone on a Lumia vs. an iPhone, because you KNOW it's bad advice. App developers don't give a crap about WP, and it shows.

  • Benjamin Rodriguez

    yes, good point jared. The screen size will help tons with games that totally block the screen with their control layouts. 

    Geometry wars is another one.

    Still waiting on Ram though. Which will probably be the deciding factor for me, as I'm alright with my phone currently, and my touch is used solely for gaming.

    • B

       Agreed.  I take it no one actually knows yet how much RAM is in the new Touch?

    • Mrwubbs

      If my fingers touch the black borders of games not optimized for the screen, will the game register my inputs? If not, then I don't see why the longer screen would help any. Your thumbs will still block the screen, no? Or am I missing something?

  • TheMerc

    General opinion, which seems to be the best newiDevice as far as gaming is concerned, the iPhone or the iPod Touch? I've had an iPod Touch for a while, and I'm considering the new iPhone mainly for its increased performance power, but have seen that, for gamers, the iPod Touch is the way to go...

    • TheMerc

      *have read that the iPod Touch is the way to go...

      • Superatomic

        No way.. Stick with iPhone for games .. IPod crashes on all the games

      • James Wagner

        That's completely false. I've had my iPod Touch 4g since launch and it doesn't crash on "all games" as matter of fact the only game in recent memory that has crashed on me is "Plague Inc" and that could simply be due to coding and not the hardware.

        If you own a iPod Touch 4g and it's crashing on all games then there is something wrong with your device.

      • Mike

        I think he exaggerates but he's not entirely wrong in my experience, apps on my touch tends to crash a lot more than my phone, especially the larger/more graphically intense games. There's also often a lot of slowdown with ram hungry games that can make them unplayable. 

        The (current) ipod has half the ram of the (current) phone, and I think that causes trouble some times. That, plus I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of devs just test on the phones and assume the ipod will work too.

      • bluspacecow

        True that. Current iPod touch only has 256 MB RAM. Current iPhone has 512 MB.

        Apps get automatically quit by iOS when they're using too much memory. iOS developers pretty much have to work around the limitations here as they can't reduce the amount of memory one of Apple's iOS processes takes up.

        Looking forward to the new iPod touch which has the A5 chip that was in the iPad 2. Should have 512 MB of RAM. Hopefully iOS 6 will also reduce the memory used by the OS as well.

    • Adams Immersive

      The iPod Touch has no advantages for gaming, and it has some drawbacks: lower performance (we don’t yet know HOW much better this A6 chip is), lack of vibrate (no biggie), inability to game online, check email, or anything without WiFi, and no GPS (occasionally used by games, but just plain awesome to have for navigating). Also, having your game machine BE your phone (not to mention camera) means you always have it with you, and don’t have to juggle multiple devices.

      The iPod Touch is a great deal because it’s low-cost with no contract/plan. And the thinner shape, color choices, and wrist strap are minor benefits. It’s great for someone who already has a phone they can’t/won’t give up, if they don’t mind carrying two devices.

      But if you ever plan to own a smartphone, make it an iPhone 5 and kill 2 birds with one device!

      • TheMerc

        Thank you very much for your reply! Much appreciated!

      • James Wagner

        No advatanges? I always thought not having to pay a monthly contract was a pretty good advantage.

      • Adams Immersive

        No advantages for gaming specifically. I mentioned the lack of contract as a good thing, but the question was about whether the iPod is better for gaming than the iPhone. There’s nothing wrong with choosing an iPod, for the right reasons.

      • IAmTheNightRider

        An iPod Touch is noticeably lighter than an iPhone, in either its 4th or 5th generation incarnations.  I'd say that is a gaming specific advantage (long playing sessions, playing with arms raised while lying down etc.).  

        I'd also say that having a device that is not doing dual duty as a phone means that comparatively you will always have more battery available for gaming.

      • Benjamin Rodriguez

        exactly, which is why I'm pretty content with it solely as a gaming device. The main thing that would bother me is constant notifications of phones calls/texts, while playing with two devices I can just see if it's worth putting my game down to bother to reply/pick up. But as mentioned before, ram, I'm getting tired of how much crap ram is in the touch, and would be willing to pick up an iphone 5 if ram is continuously suckin.

      • Onikage725

        He's not saying the iPod is bad. The iPhone is just stronger, has access to cellular networks (though I wouldn't eat at a data plan with extended gaming personally), and upgraded more frequently.

      • Benjamin Rodriguez

        yep especially considering how much harder and more expensive it is to keep an unlimited data plan. As currently there isn't really any fully non-limited data plan out of the major carriers and they opted to just charge people more per gb.

        Sounds fun right.

      • Stephane Guibord

        The fact that you can't game online without a Wifi is not entirely a negatice. Most iphone users won't game online (because this is what it's about here) without wifi access anyway because of how bad the data charge can be if you game online without be connected to one. Not being able to check emails also has nothing to do with gaming but you still can do it on a wifi converage.

        The ipod touch still does GPS tracking, just not per your device but rather based on your IP, which in the few games that uses the GPS, can be good enough.

        There is no denying that the iphone by itself, is a better gaming machine because of just the better specs beind it. Still, for the majority of the people, they wouldn't see a difference.

    • PinoyTeens.Net

      If you already own a smartphone, I'd go with an iPod touch. I see to it to have my "phone" separate from my "gaming" device. Hate to have my phone, along with my games unavailable because my iPhone's battery is empty... that's why I went with an iPod touch instead.

    • Onikage725

      Breaks down like this. If you have an iPhone carrying provider, and can upgrade, just get the iPhone. If you don't, Itouch is less hassle than breaking contract and setting up new service.

  • ratsinheat

    Mind boggling? Really?

    • Mike

      Mind bottling?

  • Sanuku

    Thanks for the Video Jared!

  • Gamer_Kev

    I'm looking forward to the new iPod Touch, looks like it will be a very nice device.

    • Superatomic

      I wouldn't use a iPod for games if it was given to me for free.. You have to remember developers are really building for iPhone and iPad... iPod is secondary and crashes with most games.
      iPod = iPos

      • korkidog

        I own a iPod Touch 4g and games very, very rarely crash.

      • WarMachine

        The reason games crash on the iPod is because of the single A4 chip and lack of RAM. That's all. The new iPod is comparable to the 4s so it should be just fine for playing games

      • Onikage725

        The iPod touch 4 does not crash most games. And the ones it struggle with, it's because of lack of ram. Something this new model likely fixes. Failing to see your point. Also, not all of us are on AT&T or Verizon. Not even counting Sprint, last I heard they offer them unlocked only at full price.

      • Benjamin Rodriguez

        well considering I got my first ipod touch for free, (2nd gen) and it was super amazing for gaming. (I've kept it until 4g came out). I was pretty content with it as a gaming device, and prefered it to other portables.

      • Gamer_Kev

        I've been using an iPod Touch 3 since they came out and I don't remember ever having a game crash on it. It's also been a great music player and a great texting device ( since I'm almost always around wifi connections.). It also made a great pocket computer as well, which was the original reason I got it since I was replacing my aging Palm PDA at the time. For the last three years it's given me all these features without the expensive hassle of a phone plan. I see no reason to spend money on an iPhone and expensive phone plan when I can get everything I need in a pocket computer from an iPod Touch.

  • Tom Melbourne

    I heard from a telstra employee friend that in australia the shipment comes 21st of september

    • Muhammad Hanafi Abd Latif

      Yeah. I am from Malaysia. A trader in a forum told me that the shipment of the new iPod touch may be as early as next week. I thought he was joking. Can't wait.

  • Tom Melbourne

    Can't wait for the new ipod touch... I think 32GB is fine as long as you dont load it up with crap. Probably get the PRODUCT Red version

    • FlipBeef97

      Is this too many games? 9GB IS left and 19.5 is being used... And I will probably be getting the iPod Touch 5 because of how much better games will run on it.

    • Mike

      Yeah, I like the looks of the new ipod, but I think the price is way too high. I guess they'll still be selling older ones for the time being but I would've liked to see a 16GB for less than $250.

      • Tom Melbourne

        its a weird move by apple because I have seen alot more 8GB and 16GB ipods than the rest :/

  • Plang Fu

    I was concerned at first about the changed aspect ratio because I'd only really been thinking about the implications of supporting another additional size. I'm still kinda unsure how much work that'll add and if it'll be a big deal or not (maybe not), but the awesome thing I missed is the landscape gaming real estate.

    This is a big deal. The stick shooter I'm working on at the moment (obviously landscape) is going to be clearer better to play with thumbs further out from (and thus less obscuring) the central action.

    Plus, I'm really dying to see how much I can throw at the screen before it'll buckle under 60fps. Quite a big leap from my current iPhone 4 I imagine.

  • vic_viper_001

    I wonder what older games (which make up most of my library) will look like on the new iPod. Will there just be simple black bars on the unused portion of the screen or will this increase in screen size somehow render them incompatible? That would suck considering I'd have 150 unplayable games!

    • Plang Fu

      existing (unpatched) content will just be letterboxed.

  • korkidog

    Preordering the iPod Touch tomorrow!! Anxious to mess with the new camera.

  • DeInit

    I wonder if Real Racing 3 has a damage model worth of the name, by now you'd think it'd be standard. 

    As for the iPhone, I might be jaded because I've had all three iPads now and only two iPhones up to the 4, but even when I consider the added power, the form factor, the light weight and all that jazz, in the end I think "...yeah, but I'd have to squint to see things in that 4" screen". And so no, I won't be purchasing it right away, I have no need for it. Maybe later on when it becomes cheap to get it.

  • Paul

    Pre-ordered the 32GB this morning.  Hope the delivery date is the 21st.

  • Faeryan

    For a few days I've been thinking aboit this a LOT.
    Samsung Galaxy Note 2 would look good and stuff, but the GooglePlay market kinda sucks. Also it has them buttons, is it three even, on the bottom where we have one home button.

    Even though iPhone5 disappointed me I started thinking what was missing. What more could they have put there to make me really want it.
    -Retina+, don't think it's necessary.
    -NFC, don't think I would have used it anyways.
    -3D, would have been nice at least a while but at the expense of bettery power, don't think it's worth it.
    -Bigger screen, well maybe just a tad bit bigger would have been nice, but then again wouldn't be sure.
    -Screen mirroring to TV or any other screen. Not sure if 4S and/or 5 already does 100% mirroring no matter the application with AppleTV.

    So at the end of the day I think this is pretty much all they could do.

    • Greyskull

      I'll tell you what would have been nice. A microSD slot, Even if it could only be used for audio, photo, and video. Well, that and the ability to back up to an SD card would be nice.

      And ship it with a Zagg screen protector.

  • Matthew Swainston

    Disappointed with the new Nano. Does anyone seriously buy a device that size for video? I want a small music player for the gym. Wanted to see the previous Nano with bluetooth added. Just gonna buy a Shuffle instead now.

    • Benjamin Rodriguez

      yes a lotta people were mentioning some sort of watch device with the nano.

      Honestly when I first heard that I was like that would be a badass idea. A watch ipod. With it's wireless bluetooth, you could have a fancy wearable, trendy watch that also could wirelessly transmit your music to your head. Hello Id buy it. I need a new freakin watch anyways.

  • Sandalfo

    just ordered my iPhone 5 64Gb today.
    who wants my 4S 64Gb?

    • Pray For Death

      No one

    • ILSc0p3z7I


  • Stephane Guibord

    What bugs me with Apple is why are they so scretive regarding the amount of RAM available in their devices? They have no issue telling us their CPU is twice as fast, not issue telling us which CPU is in the device, how many pixel per inch the screen goes and the resolution it runs at, but they just never tell us the amount of RAM there is.

    I'm itchy to replace my 3rd gen ipod touch (I do have the new ipad at home though) but I won't pre-order one unless I know how different it is regarding the iphone. I can live with the A5 CPU (as the ipod touch doesn't require as much CPU cycle as the iphone considering the tasks it doesn't need to do) but I'd like to know if we're looking for 512mb or 1gb (I hope) of ram on the ipod touch.

    • bluspacecow

      AFAIK 512 MB of RAM probably.

      I've done my research and it appears the A5 chip comes with 512 MB soldered onto it. ifixit has a tear apart guide where they highlight the A5 chip telling us it comes with 512 MB of RAM but do not highlight a separate chip for the RAM. 

      I can't seem to link URLs on here but If you look up on wikipedia on the Apple A5 chip in the annotations will be a link to apple insider that then has a source on an engineer that did an analysis of the chip as well.

      The iPad 3rd Generation had 1024 MB on it as it had the A5X which , according to ifixit's tear apart guide had separate modules for the RAM. The Wikipedia page mentions that the A5 was packaged as a package on package (meaning the RAM was included) the A5 X was not (meaning the RAM had be tacked on as a seperate module on the motherboard)

  • jeffmd

    All these comments and no one catches the pirated version of the Avengers loaded onto it? 

    • bluspacecow

      Why do you assume it's pirated ?

      It may not be out on DVD/Blu-ray as yet but that doesn't mean the movie studio didn't send Apple an advance copy.

      In fact with a Major Apple Event like this (yes I used capitals) I would not be surprised if the movie studio paid Apple for their movie to appear. As well as sending them a copy of the movie encoded for the iPod.

      That or it could just be the Trailer from Apple's own iTunes Movie Trailers site 😛

      • jeffmd

        Nah you can see the time is 2+ hours on it. But your right it is most likely sanctioned and supplied by the studio. I was thinking this was a personal review, wasn't thinking it was still sitting on the floor of an event. 😉

      • bluspacecow

        I don't know anyone who's got these delivered to them yet. If they had we would see tear apart guides on ifixit already.

        So the photos would of been taken at the event. There were hundreds of devoted apple fans who probably lined up all day of the day before to get in as well as thousands watching online as well as people that have stayed up / got up early just to watch the event.

        IMHO The movie studio probably contacted Apple so they could get in on that product placement.

  • jeffyg3

    I posted in another topic that the iPhone 5 is unimpressive and was going to finally switch out of the iPhone family, but I've been using my brothers Galaxy III for the past couple of days while he tries his new Galaxy Note his work gave him, and I have to admire I really liked it at first, the screen was the big draw to me.

    But as I started to use it, I started missing my iPhone. The size seemed too small at first, but realized I'd rather have a low-key device that fits better in my pockets & hand and the iPhone 5 would be better with how thin it is, plus the biggest draw back for me with the Galaxy 3 is the OS itself and especially the apps. I was liking the OS in the beginning, the widgets, animated backgrounds, and other features were cool, but it was laggy compared to iOS and unintuitive, wasn't as smooth. It felt like for everything the Android OS was going forward, it also felt like it was a step backwards. So I've come to realized each OS are fairly equally, they have their ups and downs. The apps on the iOS though are definitely better, especially in the games department...and the apps is what matters most.

    I guess it was nice to test the other side for a little while, but I think I'm much happier with the iPhone. I guess I'll be buying the iPhone 5 after all.

  • Toyota974

    Now i hope the iphone 4s price drops. :/

  • Paul Hopper

    note : engadget just posted a little while ago that the iphone 5 has 1 gig ram