5 iOS device features we won’t see after this fall

Each year, Apple refreshes and renews its iOS offers, adding new and exciting features to their iPads and iPhones. Some of these don’t get announced during product unveilings but are still improvements that many tech enthusiasts might enjoy.

As newer products come out, though, some of the key features that were notable in previous generations goes by the wayside. Here are five of them.

1. A5 Chip

a5chip

In 2011, Apple unveiled the iPad 2, its second generation iPad. Not only did it have a new design compared to the original iPad, but it also featured some new internal technology. Notably, the iPad 2 was powered by Apple’s A5 chip. This was Apple’s first dual-core mobile chip. The A5 later went on to feature in the iPhone 4S later that year.

By itself, the A5 chip has had a long life. Notably, Apple has revised it over the past several years, expanding its usage into such devices as the first generation iPad mini, third generation Apple TV, and fifth generation iPod Touch.

However present the A5 currently is, however, I think we’ll see it disappear from the iOS line-up this year. The current iPhone lineup only has one device running an A5: the iPhone 4S. If previous trends continue, the iPhone 4S will no longer be available after the unveiling of the iPhone 6, thus leaving the A6 as the ‘lowest’ chip in a new iPhone.

After an iPad refresh later this year, I expect the A5 to disappear from the iPad lineup, as well, with the drop of the original iPad mini.

But isn’t the A5 in the latest iPod Touch? Yes. But when Apple debuted the 4-inch iPhone 5, they also unveiled a new iPod Touch. If Apple is truly creating a larger iPhone, I expect to see a larger iPod Touch, too. And with a larger screen, it’s quite likely Apple could squeeze in an A6 chip into the new iPod Touch. (Or even an A7, which would create a very threatening iOS lineup this year).

2. 30-pin Connector

Lightning vs. 30-PIN

Left: Lightning connector. Right: Ancient history, also known as the 30-pin ‘iPod’ connector

In 2003, Apple released the 3rd generation iPod. With it came the famous 30-pin iPod connector. This connector carried USB, FireWire, line-level audio output, and some control information. As the iPod changed, so did the signals carried in the connector. Yet, it was a very versatile system. When the iPhone was introduced in 2007, it also connected via the 30-pin connector.

In 2012, Apple unveiled the replacement for the 30-pin connector: Lightning. This new, smaller, 8-pin connector allowed Apple to produce thinner and lighter devices and was clearly the future connector of all of Apple’s mobile devices.

At present, only one iOS device uses the 30-pin connector: the iPhone 4S. As stated above, the iPhone 4S is likely to disappear from Apple’s lineup next month. From then on, everything will be Lightning. (Note: The iPod Classic is the last device sold new from Apple that has the 30-pin connector. But, I think its days are numbered.)

3. Non-Retina Screens

Engadget-iPhone4-vs-3gs-screen

iPhone 3GS’ non-Retina screen versus the Retina-display of an iPhone 4

When unveiling the iPhone in 2007, Steve Jobs described the 3.5-inch screen as being large and gorgeous.  Since then, however, many phone manufacturers, including Apple, have released higher resolution screens that are much better than the original screen on the iPhone.

With the introduction of the higher resolution display on the iPhone 4, Apple made note of a particular threshold that defines a Retina display. This was again described with the release of the third generation iPad, the first with a Retina display. While Apple hasn’t sold a non-Retina iPhone in two years, Apple still sells one non-Retina device: the original iPad mini.

The first generation iPad mini carried the same specs as the iPad 2, itself a non-Retina device. Even with the same pixels compacted into a smaller screen, the iPad mini had a pixel density of 163 PPI (interestingly, the same density as the non-Retina iPhone screens). Following their MO, Apple will likely unveil another generation iPad mini with Retina this year. While it’s possible the original iPad mini might stay in the lineup, much as the iPad 2 stayed alive for a long time, it’s more likely that the first generation iPad mini will be retired and, with it, the last non-Retina screened device.

4. Non-LTE devices

how to Disable - Enable 3G iPhone 4S

Remember when 3G was the fastest option?

With each internal speed improvement in the iPhones, it seems like Apple has improved the radios as well. For instance, the dual band antennas in the iPhone 4S allowed it to reach speeds on 3G higher than what an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 could achieve. Yet, it wasn’t until the release of the iPhone 5 that iPhones were able to connect to and enjoy LTE speeds.

Presuming the iPhone 5c (or its updated cousin) becomes the new lowest end offering in the iPhone range, all iPhones and iPads will be available with LTE as an option. Want to have ultrafast wireless on the go? No matter which iPad or iPhone you choose this fall, that’s what you’ll get.

5. Micro-SIM

Micro vs. Nano SIM

A Micro SIM on the left with the smaller and current Nano SIM on the right.

While a very small point, this improvement was very important in its time. The unveiling of the iPhone 4 showed a device that was thinner than the iPhone 3GS, a device that, at the time, was fairly thin. One of the items that had changed between those generations was the SIM card. Many people, even those on a GSM network like AT&T, forget that their iPhone has one of these inside it. Yet, this important part of your phone also used to take up more space than it does now.

The move to the Micro-SIM in the iPhone 4 helped free up space and allow Apple to create a thinner device. The move to the iPhone 5 introduced the nano-SIM card, which also served a similar function.

The iPhone 4S and the fourth generation iPad are the only two iOS devices with a Micro-SIM. Soon, though, we won’t be seeing them anymore. And the era of the Micro-SIM will be over.

These are just five features that I found that we likely won’t see again after this fall. Did you think of any others? Got comments on the items above? Let us know below!

 

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  • RedGeminiPA

    …and none of that will be missed.
    As for the A6, end of the line for that as well. Every iOS device Apple releases from here on out will have the A7 at minimum. They want to transition every iOS device to 64-bit. They’d be foolish not to, since too many good games/fitness apps will be optimized for the A7 and M7.

    • http://www.joshspadd.com/ Josh Hrach

      I agree. It would be great to have a full 64-bit line up this year, whether it is iPhones, iPads, or iPod Touches.

    • http://www.joshspadd.com/ Josh Hrach

      After some more thinking, I think we’ll see one more year of the A6. The A6 is found in the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5C. I suspect the 5C will become the next “free with 2 year contract” iPhone. If so, the A6 will live on one more year.

      The A6X, found only in the iPad (4th generation), is much more likely to disappear. Unless Apple keeps a ‘third tier’ of iPad options, though I doubt that.