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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Apple said the new iPhone 5 will be in stores in the U.S. and several other countries on September 21.
The other launch countries are Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the UK.
A week later, the phone will be available in 22 more countries, including Italy, Poland and Spain.
In the U.S., pre-orders will start on Friday, September 14.
The phone will cost the same as the iPhone 4S did when it debuted, starting at $199 with a two-year contract in the U.S. Meanwhile, the price for the iPhone 4S will drop to $99 for new contract signers, and the iPhone 4 will be free.
The phone is thinner and lighter than the iPhone 4S, yet has a taller screen.
It will also come with the capability to connect to the fastest new wireless data networks, both in the U.S. and overseas. That's another feature that was widely expected. Some competing phones in the U.S. have had this ability for a year and an half.
With the new model, Apple is ditching the connection port it's used for iPods, iPhones and iPads for nearly a decade in favor of a smaller, narrower one. That means Apple is still the holdout in an industry where other manufacturers have settled on a standard connector for charging and computer backups.
There will be adapters available so that the new phone will be able to connect to sound docks and other accessories designed for the old phones.
Thanks to new technology that eliminates a separate touch-sensing layer in the screen, the phone is 18 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter, said Apple marketing head Phil Schiller. He spoke at an Apple event in San Francisco.
The camera on the back of the iPhone 5 has the same resolution as the one on the iPhone 4S, but takes pictures faster and works better in low light, Apple said.
The front-facing camera is getting an upgrade to high-definition, letting users take advantage of the faster data networks for videoconferencing.
Apple share are up $4.42, or 0.7 percent to $665.01 in afternoon trading.
Apple Inc. also plans to update its phone software and will ditch Google Inc.'s mapping service for its own. The two have become rivals as Google promotes phones running its Android operating system.
Although the new iPhone was the big announcement, Apple also unveiled a new version of its iTunes software for traditional computers.
There are new ways to create playlists and to decide what to listen to next. It also promises improved search - as you type the name of an album, for instance, those in your music library will be suggested.
The iTunes software comes with a new mini player - a small window from which you can play songs while you are still in your music library.
The new software will come out in late October.
Apple is also refreshing its iPod Nano. The seventh generation of the device is thinner than the previous one, with a bigger display. It now has a home button similar to that on the iPhone and the iPad. It also will come with Bluetooth wireless capability, allowing you to stream music.
Apple is also updating the iPod Touch - essentially an iPhone without the ability to make calls. Like the new iPhone and the new iPod Nano, it will use the new connector, which Apple calls Lightning. It will have a 5-megapixel camera and the same panorama feature as the new iPhone. It will be possible to edit photos on the Touch for the first time.
Siri, the virtual assistant launched on the iPhone last year, is coming to the iPod Touch for the first time. Apple already has said Siri will appear on the iPad with the new software update.
Meanwhile, the iconic white earbuds are getting an update. Now called earpods, they sport an earpiece that is more cylinder. Apple says they were built to meld to the shape of your ear. The earpods go on sale Wednesday as a stand-alone accessory and will be included with new devices out in October.
In anticipation, several gadget makers refreshed their lineups last week, hoping to beat Apple on the buzz. Nokia Corp. and Google Inc.'s Motorola Mobility division announced five new smartphones between them, while Amazon.com Inc. updated its Kindle Fire tablet computer and announced new stand-alone e-reader models.
Sales of Apple's iPhones are still strong, though the company lost the lead in smartphones to Samsung this year.
Samsung Electronics Co. benefited from having its S III out in the U.S. in June, while Apple was still selling an iPhone model it released last October. A new iPhone will allow Apple to recapture the attention and the revenue. Analysts are already estimating that Apple will sell 8 million to 10 million iPhone 5s before the company's quarter ends Sept. 30.
That said, the iPhone has been trailing Android phones in sales. On Tuesday, Google executive Hugo Barra declared on his Google Plus social networking page that 1.3 million Android phones are added each day, with 500 million devices activated globally. As of June, Apple has sold 244 million iPhones since the first one came out in 2007.
Here's a look at what to expect in the coming months:
REKINDLING THE FIRE
Amazon.com Inc.'s 7-inch Kindle Fire is one of the smaller tablets with decent sales. On Friday, it will sell an updated version with a faster processor, more memory and longer battery life. It will also cut the price to $159, from $199, making it far cheaper than the iPad, which starts at $399 for the 2011 version still on sale. (The most recent ones start at $499.)
Amazon is also releasing higher-end models under the Kindle Fire HD line. A 7-inch one will go for $199, while an 8.9-inch one will go for $299. There's also a $499 model that can use the 4G cellular networks that phone companies have been building. A data plan will cost an extra $50 a year. The smaller HD model will start shipping Friday, while the larger ones will be available Nov. 20.
Amazon also refreshed its line of stand-alone e-readers, offering the Paperwhite, with its own light source. Tablets such as the iPad and the Fire don't work as well in bright light because they are lit from the back. Amazon says the light on the Paperwhite is directed down at the display.
Barnes and Noble Inc., which makes the 7-inch Nook Tablet, may have an update this fall as well.
Toys R Us, meanwhile, said Monday that it is making a 7-inch tablet aimed at children. The Tabeo will go on sale Oct. 21 for $149.99.
Though it's a pioneer in the cellphone industry, Motorola hasn't had a hit since the Razr phone came out in 2004. Under new owner Google Inc., Motorola Mobility is trying to change that.
Last week, Motorola announced three new smartphones bearing the Razr name. The $99 Droid Razr M will be in Verizon Wireless stores this Thursday, the day after Apple's announcement.
Motorola will have two high-end models, the Razr HD and Razr Maxx HD, later this year. It's emphasizing long battery life -- up to 21 hours of talk time for the Maxx HD, or 10 hours of video streaming.
These are the first major products from Motorola since Google bought the company for $12.4 billion in May. Google, meanwhile, continues to sell a 7-inch Android tablet, the Nexus 7, made in partnership with AsusTek Computer Inc.
CALLING ON WINDOWS
Microsoft Corp. will release a new version of the Windows operating system on Oct. 26, one that's designed to work on both traditional computers and tablet devices. A new version of the Windows Phone system is coming out, too.
Once-dominant phone maker Nokia Corp. has been struggling in the shadow of Apple and Android, and it's counting on the new Windows system for a revival. Last week, Nokia and Microsoft unveiled two new devices under Nokia's Lumia brand -- the 820 and the 920.
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop says the new phones will go on sale in the fourth quarter in "select markets." He didn't say what they would cost or which U.S. carriers would have them. Investors were disappointed, and Nokia's stock fell 16 percent on the day of the announcement.
Samsung, which surpassed Nokia as the world's largest maker of mobile phones in 2011 and overtook Apple in smartphones this year, showed off a Windows 8 phone late last month. It didn't announce an availability date either.
Microsoft plans its own tablet computer, too. It's new territory for Microsoft, which typically leaves it to others to make devices using its software. Now, it will be competing against its partners.
The Surface tablet will come in two versions, both with 10.6-inch screens, slightly larger than the iPad's. One model will run on phone-style chips, just like the iPad, and will be sold for a similar price. A heavier, more expensive version will run on Intel chips and be capable of running standard Windows applications. The Surface will go on sale on Oct. 26.
A year ago Research In Motion Ltd. disclosed that it was working on a next-generation phone system for the BlackBerry, which now looks ancient next to the iPhone and Android devices. It was supposed to be out in time for this year's holiday season. That won't happen.
In June RIM pushed the release of BlackBerry 10 devices into early next year, saying it wasn't ready. That means RIM will not only compete with the new iPhone and Android devices out this fall, but it will also have to contend with the new Windows devices.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)