Yesterday, our own Kyle Frost wrote down his thoughts on what he thinks we’ll see in next Wednesday’s media event. Although it’s almost definite that we’ll see the 6th gen iPhone being launched, there’s so much more to it than that. I’m going to break it down in to three categories: Definitely Maybe (for the rumors that are virtually guaranteed), Risky but possible (rumors that don’t fill me with confidence, but not impossible), Not-likely (rumors with less weight than a helium filled balloon). First up, the main headline grabber itself, the iPhone 5.
iPhone 5 features
1. A new 4-inch, 1136 x 640 pixel Retina display. All the leaks over the past few months virtually confirm the new display. Although it’s as wide/narrow as the current version, the extra length will give it an aspect ratio close to widescreen format (16:9) making video and gaming much more immersive. Keeping the same width will ensure that it remains as usable as it is now, and won’t be the cause of any stretchy-thumb syndrome.
2. New design. We’re due a new design having the current one for the past 2 years and 3 months. The rumors would suggest a two-tone back thanks to a new aluminum back plate that replaces the current metal frame as the external antenna. However, the back does need some radio-transparent materials for signal to get through for various wireless services, hence why it probably won’t have a one-piece metal rear casing. Apart from that, the shape is still likely to be square-ish and flat. (I’m still mourning the loss of my curved 3GS back.)
3. 4G LTE. The new iPad has it, so the next iPhone will most likely have it. It wouldn’t make sense not too, especially in the States where LTE markets are opening up all over the place on both Verizon and AT&T’s networks. What’s unclear is whether or not it will be compatible with world-wide bandwidths or just Northern American carriers like the iPad. If I had to guess, I’d say nothing will be different from the iPad’s chipset.
4. A5+/S chip. The A5X in the iPad has a quad-core GPU to power the monster 9.7″ Retina display. Since the iPhone will have a much smaller number of pixels to light up it really has no need for the massively enhanced graphics processor. The leaked battery suggests that the phone will have little more power, and we really don’t need a pointlessly upgraded chip sapping all our battery juice. The likelihood is that we’ll see a chip with a similar structure to the A5, but with better efficiency and faster speed.
5. New dock connector. Apple has been using the 30 pin, gaping dock connector for the past 10 years. It’s time for a change. The current proprietary system has served fantastically well, and is still a better build quality and reliability than the universal standard Micro USB/Mini USB. The new 9 pin connector (17 pins all-in-all) will feature a design with 8 separate pins on each side, with the main body of the connector acting as another pin. The connector is rumored to be orientation independent. Meaning that there’s no such thing as upside-down. You’ll be able to place it inside your phone whichever way up with 9 out of the 17 pins connecting each time. Hence the 9-pin name that showed up in some code a little while back.
6. In-cell touchscreen technology. Essentially, instead of having a touch sensitive layer on top of the LCD display, the “touchscreen” sensors will be within the same layer as the display itself. Rumors are that not only will it make the display unit much slimmer, but more efficient too.
Risky but possible
1. A 10MP camera. Last year’s 8MP set the industry standard for quality in a smartphone camera. Its backlit sensor, filters and extra lenses make it a rival to most point-and-shoot bespoke cameras. And, with exception of Nokia’s PureView camera phone, it’s still the best camera on the smartphone circuit. Extra megapixels aren’t needed, but, perhaps an improvement in depth of field and ISO capabilities could give it the edge for another year or so.
2. Sharp IGZO display. Alongside the new touchscreen technology, it has been rumored for a while that Apple could make use of its partnership with Sharp to utilize the company’s super efficient IGZO display panels. It would require much less battery power than the current Retina display, giving us back our full day’s use from a single charge.
1. T-mobile partnership. As TmoNews’ David Beren points out, the Magenta carrier is very unlikely to receive the iPhone 5 officially. That said, the carrier is up to something on the same weekend that we’re expecting the iPhone to be dropped in to our lives. What exactly that is, no one is really sure. However, it could well be an announcement regarding the refarming of spectrum to an iPhone-friendly 1900 bandwidth.
2. A6/Quad-core. For reasons unbeknown to me, people still talk about quad-core chips in the next iPhone. Simply put: it doesn’t need it. iOS doesn’t need it, and won’t for a good time. There’s no “true” multitasking. iOS is very efficient in the way that it handles multiple apps. Instead of having them pointlessly running in the background, it remembers exactly where you were, freezes the app, and takes you back to the same spot when ever you choose to go back to it.
3. NFC. Near Field Communication can be used for transferring data between devices, or even for making payments. It’s certainly in Tomorrow’s World territory, but that doesn’t mean Apple is ready to take it mainstream. Give it another year, and perhaps we’ll see more developments on this.
4. Wireless Charging. Sadly, however much I want this feature, there’s been nothing to suggest that it’s a realistic expectation for the 6th generation iPhone. With Cupertino having spent so much time on the new dock connector, it’s unlikely that they’d then choose to completely bypass that with an inductive charging solution.
Other new products
New iPods. It’s been almost two years since we’ve seen any real developments in Apple’s media player lineup. Nobody’s expecting much love for the Classic model, but, we can expect new nano, shuffle and touch models. The iPod touch will likely take on the front of the iPhone 5 (same display size/aspect ratio), while the nano may well revert back to a display+control pad form factor. We’re not really sure, but it will be updated somehow.
Risky, but possible
iPad mini. Apple is definitely looking in to the iPad mini. It’s been tested and prototyped but that’s about all we know. There’s certainly a market for it, but, the question remains as to whether or not Apple can release one at a competitive price while still making its traditional 30-50% profit. I doubt it, and for that reason I can’t see that this is too likely.
New iPad (with new connector). Apple has spent considerable time designing the internals of the 3rd generation iPad. I can’t see that the design team would approve a new model, just to swap out the 30 pin connector for the new 9-pin version.
So, there are my thoughts on next Wednesday’s event. What do you think we will (or won’t) see? What are you hoping for? Leave your comments below, or tweet: @TiP_Cam