Apple executives say that does not matter. They care more about building the best phone, they say, and combining technologies into the most attractive package, not being first with the latest bells and whistles.
"I feel the need to be the best," said Timothy D. Cook, Apple's chief executive, in a conversation after the event announcing the new device, the iPhone 5.
"We don't view our products as a checklist of features," he added.
The new iPhone has a larger, four-inch screen, faster wireless Internet speeds and a more powerful chip than the previous version of the company's smartphone. It is 18 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter.
This is the first time Apple has altered the dimensions of the iPhone's display, which has measured 3.5 inches diagonally since the original iPhone was released in 2007. While the display at that time seemed gigantic compared with the tiny screens on most cellphones, Apple's competitors have been far more aggressive in pushing bigger displays on their smartphones, with some screens approaching five inches.Apple said the new display offered a bigger canvas for activities like reading books, browsing Web sites and watching movies.
The device will also work on the latest variety of high-speed data network with wireless carriers, known as LTE, which other companies have included in their products for some time.
Even though the product is not as startling as the original iPhone - the likes of which had not been seen before in the electronics industry - analysts still expect the iPhone 5 to be a hot seller this holiday season.
Investors seemed to agree, sending Apple's shares up $9.20, or 1.4 percent, to close at $669.79 after the event.
The device, which will go on sale on Sept. 21, will start at $199 with a two-year wireless contract, a price similar to that of previous versions.
In what could be one of Apple's more vexing moves with a new product, though, the company got rid of the traditional 30-pin dock connector for attaching the iPhone to power cables, stereo docking stations and other peripherals, replacing it with a smaller connector it calls Lightning.
The change means owners of existing iPhone accessories will have to buy an adapter from Apple so they can plug the new phone into those devices. The adapters are on sale at the Apple store for $30 for one version and $40 for another.
Apple said it made the change because the new connector was more durable, freed space for other technologies inside the iPhone and enabled the iPhone 5's thinner design. The company said many of the functions of traditional iPhone cables, other than charging, were now handled by wireless connections like Bluetooth.
In a brief interview after the event, Philip W. Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said the company was offering the adapter to try to make the shift to the new technology as painless as possible for its users.
"At some point you have to move to the next generation," he said
Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Gartner, said the iPhone 5 showed how Apple approaches new technologies cautiously until it is sure it can deliver the best experience possible.
The first phones that supported LTE, for example, were often criticized for poor battery life, but Apple waited until it could offer a product that could hold a charge long enough, he said.
In the new product, Apple also chose not to support near-field communication wireless technology, which can be used to make wireless payments but has been slow to take off.
Mr. Cook said the four-inch display was the perfect size because it could be easily held in one hand. Apple made the screen taller, but not wider, than the previous generation of iPhone for that very reason, he said.
Copyright 2012 The New York Times News Service