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iPhone 5: Latest rumours and speculations

Last updated on: August 23, 2012 13:30 IST

iPhone 5: Latest rumours and speculations

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Get Ahead read Rangaprabhu Parthasarthy offers his take on what the iPhone 5 will be like based on rumours doing the rounds on the Internet

In a few weeks, the next iPhone will be announced to the world. Read on to know more about all the rumours and speculations of the next big iDevice.

It is that time of the year again when the speculation about the next iPhone goes to a whole new level. Every little rumour and speculation will be dissected to a million bits until Tim Cook formally unveils the next iPhone sometime in September. This year has been interesting because in addition to all the speculation, there have been pictures of the purported device (http://www.theverge.com/2012/7/29/3200057/iphone-5-fully-assembled-rumor-pictures/in/2790080) from multiple sources all converging to the same ID. This is rare.

Typically speculation centers around multiple IDs -- last year was the height when the world thought it had nailed down the arrival of iPhone 5 only to be greeted by an iPhone 4S with the exact same industrial design as iPhone 4.

But this year is different. A blog reported that Apple is planning to hold an event on September 12 (http://cdn.imore.com/apple-iphone-5-and-ipad-mini-event-planned-september-12-iphone-5-release-date-september-21) to announce the next iPhone among other things. AllThingsD, a reputed techblog has corroborated that information. Blogs and obscure websites seem to have what they think is rock solid information on all things iPhone 5 (or whatever it is going to be called). Not to be left out, I am going to don my speculative hat and guess away. Take it with a big bushel of salt.


Image: All photographs of iPhone 4S. These pictures are used only for representational purpose


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1. Design

Having seen all the pictures on the Internet, if they were to be true, the next iPhone is not a major deviation from the current 4S. This is not a bad thing. Apple has built a pretty unique device with the 4S and there is no point dramatically changing it.

There seem to be minor design shifts as evidenced here (http://ilab.cc/news/5888.html), but nothing major. If the device were to be built with metal and glass as the 4S, expect to see an external antenna design. While the photos aren't very clear, the back seems to be gray metal which looks cool.

Also, a smaller 19 pin connector seems to be replacing the traditional 30 pin Apple connector (http://www.idownloadblog.com/2012/07/23/reuters-smaller-dock-connector/). Not entirely surprising. Again, nothing major. Just subtle design tweaks with one major connector change which would be a big windfall for the obvious connector adaptor priced $19 at the Apple store and a new slew of accessories and speaker systems that will utilise the new architecture.

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2. Screen size and display

As has been the point of conversation over the last few months, Apple seems to be finally building a bigger screen for the iPhone (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/16/us-apple-iphone-idUSBRE84F0MA20120516). The 3.5-inch screen is definitely a standout in today's smartphone line up filled with 4 inchers or bigger. The top two Android handsets for 2012 feature a 4.7-inch and a 4.8-inchscreen respectively. As an owner of HTC One X with its fantastic 720p 4.7-inch screen and comparing it with my wife's 3.5-inch iPhone 4S, I can vouch for the larger screen.

The small screen is passe. And Apple knows that. Hence the 4-inch iPhone. This will start the inevitable iPhone fragmentation conversation (http://www.imore.com/4-inch-iphone), the one Apple fanboys have been berating Android users for a long time. But it was going to happen someday. Apple will also have to figure out a way to keep the Retina Display moniker which may prove trickier but it will find a way to do it. It is marketing after all.

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3. Processor

Apple's processors have used Samsung reference designs ranging from the A4 processor based on Samsung's Hummingbird architecture (http://arstechnica.com/apple/2010/06/an-even-closer-look-at-apples-a4-shows-evolutionary-design/) to the A5 which also uses a Samsung SoC (http://www.anandtech.com/print/5742). This brings us to the A6 widely expected (http://reviews.cnet.com/2300-6454_7-10002721-11.html) to grace the next iPhone. Given its legal issues with Samsung, Apple could potentially have its own design on the A6 but that would be unlikely. Expect a Samsung Exynos (http://www.samsung.com/global/business/semiconductor/minisite/Exynos/index.html) based reference design with Apple's own secret sauce on top. It could be a dual core or quad core design but more importantly 28nm.

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4. Modem and LTE

The new iPad was the first Apple product to bear an LTE modem (MDM9600 from Qualcomm). The MDM9600 is Qualcomm's first generation LTE solution. The new iPhone might want a chipset that is less power hungry and Qualcomm's MDM9615 might fit the bill. The second generation 9615 is less power hungry and will suit the power requirements of a smartphone better.

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5. Camera and optics

The iPhone 4S shipped with excellent optics and Apple will continue to innovate in that area bringing best in class smartphone sensors to the next iPhone. Expect this to be an incremental upgrade.

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6. NFC and mobile payments

One of the big things expected out of the new iPhone is its ability to enable mobile payments. Google has been on the NFC/mobile wallet bandawagon (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/apple/9326872/Apple-WWDC-iOS6-Passbook-app-prepares-iPhone-to-act-as-e-wallet.html) for over a year now with limited success mostly due to lack of carrier adoption. Google Ice Cream Sandwich ships with NFC API's baked in and also support for Android beam -- an NFC based means to exchange stuff between ICS phones. That feature has seen limited adoption.

Earlier this summer, when Apple unveiled iOS6, they showed off their Passbook -- a means to store coupons and cards. It is entirely possible and likely that this becomes the Apple payment interface -- one that could use NFC on iPhone 5 or something completely propretiary as Apple has shown the propensity to do. Either ways, just by the sheer volume of handsets Apple sells, the technology solution they adopt will become a big payments standard.

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7. Other innovations

Beyond the aforementioned major changes, there are a bunch of smaller but no less significant upgrades the new iPhone could bear.

Liquid Metal is one of them. Earlier this year, Apple extended its exclusive deal with LiquidMetal (http://www.engadget.com/2012/06/19/apple-and-liquidmetal-hug-it-out-lengthen-their-pact-until-2014/) to use their innovative alloy in Apple products. Speculation is rife that the new iPhone could use some or a lot of it.

Inductive charging is another area that is gathering steam. Palm pioneered the use of inductive charging with its Touchstone technology (http://www.hpwebos.com/us/products/accessories/touchstone-technology.html). It was an innovation the industry desperately wanted in its aim to reduce as many wires in the living room as possible. Apple could introduce something similar with the next iPhone -- a charging pad that will charge all Apple products. There are products that already do that from Energizer but Apple could make it far more mainstream than it has ever been.

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End note

The iPhone 4S was an evolutionary product -- one that built on the tremendous success of the iPhone 4. There are significant expectations for the next iPhone. This needs to be revolutionary -- Android devices and the OS have come a long way in the last 20 months -- my Android handset beats my wife's iPhone 4S in pretty much every department there is.

The general public hasn't noticed but one more evolutionary iPhone with subtle tweaks and no major upgrades and there will definitely be an impact to sales. We will know on September 12.

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