“What we know so far” may be something of an exaggeration, since we really don’t know anything absolutely. Yet. That said, we’ve heard so many rumors and seen so many leaks that – with less than a week to go until launch – we decided it’d be a good thing to revisit everything we’ve read so far.
Apple’s next flagship phone is almost certainly going to be the iPhone 5S. The company’s 7th new smartphone. On the design front, the name says it all. Going on previous ‘S’ versions of iPhones, it’s pretty clear that we shouldn’t expect anything other than a clone of the iPhone 5. Except with a few changes under the hood.
On that note, we can expect the same combination of glass and aluminum, with the two-tone back. But it’s on the color options front that we find ourselves looking for change in 2013. Last year, the iPhone 5 debuted in two options: Black/Slate and White/Silver. This year there’s one almost certain addition and another highly doubtful one. The champagne gold and white leaks have shown up in huge numbers, all but confirming the existence of a gold iPhone 5S.
On the dodgy side is the black/graphite leak that showed up recently. It suspiciously looks a lot like the pre-anodized iPhone 5 leak from 12 months ago, and considering we’ve seen only one or two images, we’re not 100% convinced on this one.
Just to save confusion: The iPhone 5S will almost certainly have the same sized display as what’s on the iPhone. So anyone hoping or expecting that Apple might release a phone with a 4.3″ plus display, just stop it now. You’re just setting up your expectations for failure. It will be a 4-inch, 326ppi display with in-cell touch sensors. Just like the iPhone 5.
From a performance point of view, one area Apple’s spec list has looked anaemic over the past year is on the processor front. With every Android OEM launching quad (and sometimes octa) core equipped smartphones, Apple’s dual-core chip does look like it should be improved on paper. But, never fear. Apple’s operating system and hardware are all developed in house to perfectly match each other. Each optimized to make the experience smooth and flawless.
Apple’s next chip, the A7, is a custom-designed processor that’s rumored to be up to 30% faster than the current A6 and 20% more efficient. So, it’s faster and is easier on your battery. If you want specs, you’re probably looking at a 1.6GHz chip which will more than likely be clocked down to a more conservative figure. What that’ll mean from an experience point of view is that scrolling, processing and graphics will all be improved. All that extra performance will make scrolling super-smooth, and will help add extra improvement to the look and feel of iOS 7′s translucencies. I’m guessing Apple will stick with 1GB RAM this time around too. Having double the RAM makes little sense when Apple’s version of multitasking doesn’t require it.
As if having a more efficient processor wasn’t enough there was a rumor earlier this year stating that the battery on the iPhone 5S would have a slightly increased capacity over the iPhone 5. So, let’s hope that finally, we can comfortably get through a day on a single charge. Is that too much to ask? It’ll more than likely have the same 8 hours talk time as previous models.
With Vodafone and O2 recently launching 4G LTE in the UK, you can expect the iPhone 5S to be compatible with a wider variety of LTE bandwidths to accommodate two of the biggest network providers in Europe. On that thought, there’s a lot to be made of the invites Apple sent out for a Beijing special event on September 11th. If it’s not to announce a partnership with China Mobile (the world’s biggest carrier), then I’ll eat my proverbial hat. To be compatible however, Apple’s iPhones will need to be equipped with TD-LTE radio chips.
Bluetooth 4.0 will surely be included, as it is in the iPhone 5. What’s of more interest on the connectivity front is the Wi-Fi bands used. Apple’s newest MacBook Airs and AirPort Extreme base stations are 802.11ac compatible, giving them a bigger range and faster data transfer speeds. In true Apple style, it’s a feature that should make its way across the entire product catalogue eventually.
Apple has improved the camera on each of its phones each year. This year will be no different. Although we might not see a higher pixel count, Apple will undoubtedly improve the sensor and lens to produce better quality images. Part of that could be an increase in aperture to f/2.0. If there is an increase in pixels, I’d be surprised to see anything over 12 megapixels. But it’s not the camera itself that’s been drawing attention in recent weeks. It’s the LED flash. Unlike the iPhone 5 with its single LED, the 5S will feature a dual LED system.
What’s not clear is what the second LED is for. Some leaks make it look as though the lower of the two LEDs has an orange/red tint leading us to believe that it’s more about improving white balance in lowlight situations that it is about flooding the scene with light. Of course, we could be wrong on that. It may just be a second LED to double brightness. Who knows. You can be sure I probably won’t be using it either way.
As much as I want to believe that Apple might release an iPhone with 128GB of storage, in this day and age it makes little sense. More and more, we’re becoming reliant on cloud storage. In fact, since iCloud and Spotify, I don’t keep any music on my actual device. While once I would have happily filled my 32GB iPhone, now, I could probably get away with just 16GB. Apple tends to think along similar lines, so I’m not sure the 128GB will make an appearance on the iPhone range as it has on the iPad.
This is always the part Apple seeks to surprise us on. The “One more thing..” phrase might be rested out of respect to the legend that is Steve Jobs, but, there’s got to be something that sets the 5S apart from its predecessor. I’m not convinced the gold option and the possibility of a 128GB storage are going to be enough.
Will it be a fingerprint sensor? Leaks would suggest that something is different about this iPhone’s Home Button. But, there’s no way of knowing whether it’s because it’s being quipped with a fingerprint scanning sensor, or something else. I’m almost certain that there won’t be NFC on an iPhone any time soon, and so I’m struggling to come up with anything that could resemble a new, unique selling point besides the fingerprint scanning home button. I’m happy to be surprised on this one.
If it’s being launched on September 10th, it’ll be making its appearance in store shelves ten days later. Expect to be lining up or accepting delivery on September 20th in the US, UK, Japan, Australia, Germany, France, Canada and a handful of other key launch day countries. It’s normally a list of 9-12 nations that get it on opening day. Other countries will typically need to wait between 1-4 months depending on how important your homeland is to Apple.
In the States, it’ll be available on Sprint, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. I’ll be surprised if the pricing isn’t the usual $199/$299/$399 for the 16/32/64 GB capacity models respectively.