San Francisco - Apple on Wednesday introduced its new iPhone 5, a lighter, thinner and more powerful version of its iconic mobile device.

“It is an absolute jewel. The software and engineering that went into this product is the most challenging our team has ever taken on,” Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller told a packed launch event in San Francisco.

The introduction has been among the most keenly anticipated in the tech world, with rumors and leaks over several months about the new device from the biggest company in the sector.

“It is the thinnest iPhone we have ever made, it's the world's thinnest smartphone and weighs just 112 grams,” just under four ounces, Schiller said.

“It is 20 percent lighter than the iPhone 4S.” - Sapa-AFP