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Apple officially announces iPhone 5

A row of new iPod Nanos are displayed at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, California on Wednesday, September 12, 2012.

By Andrea Chang, Los Angeles Times –

SAN FRANCISCO—The iPhone 5 is finally here.

After months of rampant rumors and hype, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook debuted the company’s latest smartphone Wednesday in front of a packed house at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, claiming it is the world’s thinnest.

The iPhone 5 features a larger screen and weighs 112 grams, or about 4 ounces, which is 20 percent lighter than the iPhone 4S. It is also 18 percent thinner, Apple said. It has an improved A6 processor that is twice as fast as its predecessor, high-speed 4G LTE connectivity and a widescreen aspect ratio.

The launch of a new iPhone will mean huge sales for the Cupertino, Calif., tech giant.

Since the original iPhone debuted in 2007, Apple has sold more than 244 million units and has been credited with upending the smartphone industry.

Analysts estimate the iPhone has a gross margin of about 50 percent, making it an extremely profitable device for the world’s most valuable company. Nearly two-thirds of Apple’s profits come from the iPhone.

With sales of Apple’s iPhone 4S and earlier models dropping off in recent months, analysts believe there is huge pent-up demand for the iPhone 5. Many have predicted that Apple could sell up to 10 million iPhones in the first 10 days, and up to 50 million in the holiday quarter.

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