FORTUNE — The day many Apple
fans and would-be iPhone owners have waited for is here, as the company is expected to unveil the iPhone 5. As usual, the buzz has reached an all-time high. While support for faster 4G data speeds is almost a given, other questions remain. For instance, just how much larger will that screen be, and how much more power will be packing within that svelte new casing? Until 10 AM PST / 1 PM EST, when Apple execs take the stage in San Francisco, it’s anyone’s guess.
Tune back in to this live blog, which we’ll update throughout the event. (Just remember to refresh!)
9:58 AM: And we’re in! Seated towards the back. We’re told it’ll be a full house this morning.
9:58 AM: Spotted in the crowd: super angel investor Ron Conway.
10:00 AM: Tim Cook is taking the stage to loud, prolonged applause.
10:01 AM: Cook is plugging the company’s store in Barcelona. Photos of huge crowds. Now a video of the store launch is playing. Lots of customers enthusiastically high-fiving equally enthusiastic employees.
10:03 AM: Video concludes and Cook is back to onstage. Operating in 12 countries, with first store in Sweden opening this Friday. Welcomed 83 million visitors between April and June.
10:05 AM: Cook is giving an update on the MacBook line, talking about the MacBook Pro Retina. “Our notebooks now rank #1 in the U.S. with marketshare for the last three months.”
10:06 AM: “For the last 6 years straight, the Mac has grown faster than the PC.”
10:06 AM: Now Cook is giving us an update on the new iPad, quoting positive reviews. Cook says APple sold 17 million iPads last quarter, an all-time record. “We sold more iPads than any PC maker sold of their entire PC line.” 84 million iPads sold altogether. Not too shabby.
10:08 AM: A year ago, the iPad had a 62% market share. Despite increased tablet competition, Cook says the iPad now has a larger 68% share of the tablet market. “Now, I don’t know what these other tablets are doing!” Cook exclaims. “They must be at the bottom of someone else’s bottom drawer.”
10:09 AM: 94% of Fortune 500 companies are either using or testing the iPad.
10:10 AM: There are now 700,000 apps in the Apple App Store, 250,000 of which are iPad apps.
10:11 AM: The average user is using 10 apps.
11:11 AM: In June, Apple sold its 400th million iOS device. “But today, we’re taking it to the next level.”
10:12 AM: Exec Phil Schiller is taking the stage now to discuss the iPhone.
10:13 AM: iPhone 5, y’all.
10:13 AM: The unit is rising from the stage. “It’s the most beautiful device we’ve ever made.” (And yes, it looks a lot like the leaked photos from the last few weeks.)
10:14 AM: Made of glass and aluminum.
10:15 AM: 18% thinner than previous iPhone. 20% lighter.
10:15 AM: 4-inch display with the same width of previous phones but taller, along a fifth row of apps. All Apple iPhone apps like Pages, Numbers, iPhoto, GarageBand, et al will be updated to take advantage of the larger screen. Schiller is keen to point out that some third-party apps like Open Table and sites like CNN.com look better of this larger display.
10:19 AM: 44% more color saturation. “It’s the most accurate display in the industry.”
10:20 AM: The touch screen sensor is integrated now into the new display, making it 30% thinner than previous iPhone displays.
10:21 AM: LTE compatibility now, enabling data downloads of 100 megabits per second.
10:22 AM: U.S. carriers will include Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon.
10:23 AM: They’ve also built into higher-performing WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n for 150 megabits per second download speeds.
10:24 AM: Expect 2 times faster processing speed with 2 times faster graphics. Oh, and that new A6 processor? 22% smaller.
10:25 AM: Electronic Arts guy is showing off a new racing game that takes advantage of the horsepower. Cars look far more photo-realistic with reflections and superb road textures.
10:28 AM: All right. These graphics really are home video game console quality. Color me impressed.
10:29 AM: Schiller’s back onstage talking about the iPhone’s new camera. 8 megapixel sensor, backside illumination, f/24 aperture. The camera is 25% smaller.
10:30 AM: New dynamic low light mode for better photos in dim scenarios. Sapphire crystal lens cover to better protect the lens.
10:31 AM: A smart filter will determine which areas of the photo should have more noise reduction.
10:24: AM: 1080p HD video capability.
10:34 AM: Front camera update — A Facetime HD camera with 720p resolution.
10:32 AM: Schiller’s showing off unretouched photos. “The ocean looks bluer on the iPhone 5. Kids look happier. The world is a more beautiful place.” (Yes, he’s half-joking.)
10:32 AM: A new “panorama” photo feature which allows users to “sweep” a scene to create a seamless, elongated panoramic photo. It’ll even auto-align portions of the phone if your hand isn’t steady.
10:35: Three microphones instead of two for better sound. 20% smaller speakers but with better audio fidelity. The earpiece has noise-cancellation technology now.
10:36: “Wideband audio” offers better, fuller-sounding call quality.
10:37: Schiller’s talking about the history of that 9-year-old “classic” iPhone cord. “A lot’s changed and it’s time for the connector to evolve.” The new connector is called “Lightning.” All digital 8 signal design and 80% smaller. It’s more durable and you can plug it in either direction.
10:39: Worried about your old cords being obsolete? There’s an adapter for that, says Schiller. No pricing on that, though.
10:40: Scott Forstall taking the stage to demo iOS 6 on it. He’s starting with the brand new Maps application. He’s smoothly zooming in and out. 100 million restaurant listings. And finally: turn-by-turn directions.
10:41: We’re looking at “Flyover,” great 3-D photo-realistic maps. He’s rotating around Big Ben.
10:44: iCloud Tabs allows users to easily peruse the same pages they were looking at on their phone also on their Mac.
10:43: Forstall is diving into new Safari browser features. There’s a new full-screen feature.
10:45: Brand new iOS 6 app: Passport. Think of it as a one-stop hub to store and use movie tickets, coupons, plane ticket, concert and sports tickets.
10:47: Siri enhancements! She’s a sports buff now. “How did the 49ers do last weekend?” She’ll give the score. Also, NFL standings.
10:49: Siri offers movie recommendations and shows which restaurants have available tables at a given time.
10:50: You can instruct Siri to update your Facebook status. Easy.
10:40: FaceTime ability over your cellular data plan now. Forstall is a wrap. Schiller is back.
10:51: Like the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5 will again be available in black and white. Oh, and to circle back: battery life is 8 hours via LTE or 3G, 10 hours over WiFi.
10:51: Schiller’s summing things up. “What would be a killer phone without a killer video?” Jony Ive waxing poetic onscreen. “By making the screen taller, but not wider, you can still comfortably use it with one hand.”
10:53: Bob Mansfield: With 4G LTE, you’ll notice a big difference in performance.
10:55: Forstall’s turn in the video to talk about the seamless marriage of software and hardware, that larger display, and again Maps and panoramic photos.
10:58: More video of this extremely exacting manufacturing process. “We now measure in microns.Going to these extreme length… It’s the only way to deliver this level of quality.”
10:56: Ive is back. “What makes it so unique is how it feels in your hand…. Never before have we built a device with this fit and finish. … it’s so exact, it’s an almost-mirror-like finish.”
10:59: Pricing… The same. $199 for 16 GB, $299 for 32 GB, and $399 for 64GB. The 16 GB iPhone 4S will sell for $99. And the iPhone 4 will be free with a contract.
10:59: Pre-orders begin on the 14th. Units become available on the 21st.
11:01: iOS 6 available for free download on Sept. 9.
11:01: Cook back to the stage to wrap up. Cook: “In addition to announcing iPhone 5, there’s something near and dear to us, and that’s music…”
11:02: Talk of how the iPod and iTunes revolutionized music.
11:03: Cook introduced Eddy Cue to take the reins. 20 billion songs purchased on iTunes to date.
11:03: The iTunes store is available in over 60 countries around the world, translating to 435 million iTunes accounts.
11:04: New iTunes Store redesign with a much heavier emphasis on images. Oh, and it’s faster to navigate all-around. Expect it on September 19.
11:06: Over 200 million iCloud customers.
11:06: Jeff Robin is going to give a demo of the new iTunes. Click on an album and a songlist “pane” bleeds into the middle of the app. Smooth enough. Other little features: “Up Next,” a small dropdown window that allows users to more quickly modify music playlists.
11:10: There’s a brand new iTunes “mini player”: a minimized version of iTunes with basic controls like Play, Pause, etc. Also: quick song/album/artist search.
11:12: The iTunes desktop store looks a lot more like the iPad’s.
11:13: Side note: Over an hour and still going, this may be the longest Apple product launch I’ve ever been to. And we haven’t even seen the new iPods. Cue is transitioning from iTunes to the iPod.
11:14: Over 350 million iPods sold. VP Greg Joswiak will walk us through the new iPod hardware changes. First up: a new iPod Nano. “We wanted to give it a really large display with really easy to use controls and lightest weight materials.” Also, Lightning connector. The new 7th generation iPad nano 5.4 millimeters thin. 2.5 inch display. 7 different colors. Integrated FM tuner.
11:18: Joswiak: “And we’re bringing video back.” That new 2.5 inch screen is widescreen so video should look sweet (if small).
11:19: Bluetooth ability for the first time.
11:20: 30 hours of music playback.
11:21: And now the iPod Touch with 4-inch Retina Display. 6.1 millimeters — almost as thin as the iPod Nano. Looks a lot like the iPhone 5 but with a more uniform light aluminum backing.
11:22: The new Touch has up to 7 times faster graphics.
11:23: A demo of game called “Clumsy Ninja,” a fully-interactive character. You can pick him up and move him through the air, for instance.
11:27: New 5 megapixel on the iPod Touch with sapphire lens cover. (Just to circle back and compare: the iPhone 5’s has an 8 megapixel sensor.)
11:28: On the back of the iPod Touch is a small circular button, which lets users attach an “iPod Touch Loop,” or wristband.
11:30: Just like the iPhone 5: updated Wireless and Bluetooth. Also, Siri’s coming to the iPod Touch, too.
11:31: iPod Touch coming in five colors: blue, yellow, black, and standard aluminum.
11:33: Updated iPod headphones: Earpods! 3 years in the making! Ive is giving background in a new video and talking about the new ergonomic shape and how it’s better contoured for your ear.
11:35: Ive says to expect much better bass thanks to a new small echo chamber. Cue graphics of air inflow. Available today, and of course coming standard with the (mostly) new iPod family. (The iPod Shuffle remains the same design-wise.)
11:38: Joswiak hands things back to Cook. “We’re so excited about them [the new iPods and iTunes] that we’ve created an ad.” Lots of multi-colored iPods bouncing up and down. If they could “pop and lock,” these things would be doing that.
11:40: Cook: What sets these products apart is how they work together. “Apple has never been stronger, and that’s because of the dedication of our community… They are doing the best work of our lives. Because delivering revolutionary products makes a real difference in people’s lives.”
11:42: Cook’s giving a long intro. Foo Fighters taking the stage to perform “Times Like These.” Full service, indeed.
11:46: Some people are giving a standing ovation upfront. Wait! They’re playing another song.
11:53: Foo Fighters going for a third song. People seem more infatuated with their MacBooks at the moment.
11:57: Standing ovation in the first few rows. Cook’s shaking their hands.
11:54: And we’re done! Time for some quality hands-on time.