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9/26/2011
10:54 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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iPhone 5: What We Don't Know

Contradictory reports on what features the Apple iPhone 5 (or iPhone 4S) will and won't include continue to fly.

The latest scuttlebutt concerning the iPhone 5 comes from Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair, who says the device will merely be a spec'd up version of the iPhone 4. It won't be a completely new phone. Instead, it will be an iPhone 4 with a faster processor, a better camera, and possibly a larger screen. Otherwise, it won't differ significantly from its predecessor.

Back in May, Macotakara, citing an anonymous source, also suggested that the next iPhone will look nearly identical to the iPhone 4, and will use an ARM Cortex-A9 processor. There's no word of the clock speed or number of cores for this processor.

Other supposed features include additional antennas to support both AT&T and Verizon's wireless network. This appears to have been corroborated by other sources. During a press call in April, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo suggested that Apple's next iPhone will launch concurrently on AT&T's and Verizon's networks. Rather than two separate versions of the iPhone, however, Shammo's remarks appear to indicate that the next iPhone would be a dual-mode GSM/CDMA device with global capabilities. That means the same phone will work on both AT&T and Verizon's networks.

"When a new device from Apple is launched, whenever that may be, [Verizon] will be, on the first time, on equal footing with our competitors on a new phone hitting the market, which will also be a global device," he said. Apple has not confirmed if what Shammo said is accurate.

T-Mobile says it will not get the iPhone 5. Sprint has hinted, but not really hinted, that it might.

Wedge Partners' Blair also tries to debunk the theory that Apple will introduce two iPhones--a high-end iPhone 5 and a lower end iPhone 4S--at an event in October.

"We don't expect a second, dramatically different iPhone to accompany this as we don't think Apple needs to have 3 models in the market to address the high end, mid-tier and low end since the iPhone 4 (with memory lowered to 8 GB) will drop to $99 and effectively attack those markets," said Blair, as quoted by AllThingsD.

This is in direct contrast to what analysts said earlier this year, forecasting two devices.

Then there are the "leaked cases" to consider. Some cases for the supposed iPhone 4S have hit some AT&T stores. The cases don't look all that different for cases for the current iPhone 4. But then there are other cases for a supposed future iPhone that have curved sides, and suggest the new iPhone will have a tapered design.

If there's anything painfully clear about the iPhone 5 at this point, it's that no one really knows a darned thing about it. We can guess, sure, and take the word of unnamed manufacturer partners in Asia, analyst forecasts, and random device cases, but nothing--absolutely nothing--has been confirmed or unconfirmed by Apple.

We won't learn anything real about the next-generation iPhone until it is revealed by Apple CEO Tim Cook, which he is expected to do as early as next week at Apple's Cupertino campus.

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