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5/31/2012
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Jeff Bertolucci
Jeff Bertolucci
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iPhone 5 Predictions: The Best And Worst

Apple's next iPhone will likely arrive in September or October. As the rumor machine cranks into high gear, we sort the solid predictions from the silly.




As the unveiling of Apple's next iPhone draws nigh, the rumor mill is churning out iPhone gossip at an ever-quickening rate. If Cupertino sticks with its 12-month launch cycle--a tradition it broke last year when it debuted the iPhone 4S some 16 months after the iPhone 4--Apple will grace the world with its newest handset this fall, most likely in October.

Readers love iPhone rumors, which is why tech and mainstream news sites report then so diligently. But why the obsession with iPhone and other Apple gossip? The massive popularity of the company's mobile products is a major factor, certainly, but so is Apple's legendary secrecy. The company doesn't talk about its upcoming products--ever. It seldom returns reporters' calls and, unlike its competitors, doesn't make its engineers, designers, and managers available to the tech press. You won't find Apple employees blogging about beta projects and the like.

Part of Apple's secrecy may have its roots in Steve Jobs' vaunted showmanship: The Big Reveal works best when your audience has no idea what's coming. Consider Jobs' unveiling of the original iPhone in 2007. Would his presentation have been as effective if Apple had spent months publicly discussing the progress of its revolutionary touchscreen phone?

Apple's privacy has helped build an insatiable demand for news about the company, particularly leaks about whatever cool stuff the folks in Cupertino may or may not be working on. Naturally, with a new iPhone on deck (or so we assume), attention has turned toward Apple's next handset, which most news organizations are calling the "iPhone 5."

We've collected the best and worst iPhone rumors from the past year. The best items (i.e., likely to come true) also tend to be the most recent, and include photographic evidence of alleged iPhone 5 prototypes.

Based on what we're seeing, the upcoming iPhone won't be a dramatic makeover, but rather a longer, thinner model that retains the iPhone 4S' core design. Other likely enhancements include a 4-inch display, 1136 by 640 resolution, and a 16:9 aspect ratio (or very close to it). The phone's back plate appears to be aluminum rather than glass, a notable change from the iPhone 4/4S.

The worst rumors tend to be older and often a bit too optimistic. A 3-D camera? Don't hold your breath. Inductive charging? Not this year. A teardrop shape? Only in concept sketches.

Of course, few of us will know the iPhone 5's full specs until Apple reveals out its latest creation at an undisclosed time and place. Which rumors do you believe? Which would you like to see prove true?




Likelihood: High

Remember how gigantic the iPhone's 3.5-inch touch display seemed when the handset arrived in 2007? Fast-forward five years and a lot has changed. The success of 4- to 5-inch Android phones, particularly Samsung's and HTC's fleet of big-screen models, has made the iPhone's display look puny by comparison. How big will the next-gen iPhone's display be? Rumors abound from numerous sources, most of which predict a screen measuring around 4 inches diagonally--a subtle increase over the iPhone 4S.

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Likelihood: Low

The rear-facing 8-MP camera in the iPhone 4S is one of the best in the smartphone world. How can Apple make it better? Rumormongers recently suggested the iPhone 5 could get a 3-D camera, a bit of gossip that appears to have sprouted from a March 29 story by Patently Apple, which reported that Apple had developed a "killer" 3-D imaging camera for still images and video. The article didn't say the camera would be included in the next-gen iPhone, however.

What makes the 3-D camera cool? Improved sensors for better depth-detection and color accuracy, as well as the ability to recognize facial gestures. It sounds like a work in progress, though, and probably won't appear in a shipping product until the iPhone 6 at the earliest.

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Apple's Tim Cook Talks Siri, Steve, And Competition

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Likelihood: High

The next-gen iPhone will be longer, but not wider, than the 4S and have close to a 16:9 aspect ratio, reports say. Screen resolution will increase to 1136-by-640 pixels (up from 960-by-640), according to 9to5 Mac, which has convincing photos (see above) to support its case. A longer iPhone with a 4-inch screen adds extra pixels, which Apple may use to add a fifth row of icons to the home screen.

RECOMMENDED READING:

Apple's Tim Cook Talks Siri, Steve, And Competition

Bigger iPhone Display: Why Apple Has No Choice

TSA Buys Into iPhones, iPads

Charlie Miller Makes iPhones Better By Attacking Them

IBM: Sorry, Siri. You're Not Welcome Here

Android Apps Slurp Excessive Data

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Samsung Unveils Galaxy S III, Music Hub

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Likelihood: Low

The next iPhone may have a metal casing rather than the fortified glass shell of the iPhone 4/4S. But not just any metal shell, if one rumor pans out. Korean news site ETnews reported in April that Apple would use a new alloy called Liquidmetal, an exotic blend of zirconium, titanium, nickel, copper, and other materials. Liquidmetal is tough stuff--more than twice as strong as titanium, its manufacturer boasts--and can be molded into intricate designs.

Recent photographic evidence strongly suggests the new iPhone will indeed have a metal back plate, albeit one made of aluminum.

RECOMMENDED READING:

Apple's Tim Cook Talks Siri, Steve, And Competition

Bigger iPhone Display: Why Apple Has No Choice

TSA Buys Into iPhones, iPads

Charlie Miller Makes iPhones Better By Attacking Them

IBM: Sorry, Siri. You're Not Welcome Here

Android Apps Slurp Excessive Data

Carrier IQ: What Carriers, Device Makers Must Do Next

Samsung Unveils Galaxy S III, Music Hub

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Likelihood: High

Apple is very orderly when it comes to mobile product launches: a new iPad every spring; a new iPhone every fall. (Before the iPhone 4S, a new model arrived every summer.) So it's no surprise that leading tech industry analysts, including Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster and RBC's Amit Daryanani, are predicting a fall release for this year's model. But will the iPhone debut in September or October?

RECOMMENDED READING:

Apple's Tim Cook Talks Siri, Steve, And Competition

Bigger iPhone Display: Why Apple Has No Choice

TSA Buys Into iPhones, iPads

Charlie Miller Makes iPhones Better By Attacking Them

IBM: Sorry, Siri. You're Not Welcome Here

Android Apps Slurp Excessive Data

Carrier IQ: What Carriers, Device Makers Must Do Next

Samsung Unveils Galaxy S III, Music Hub

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iPhone Owners Use More Wi-Fi Than Android Users




Likelihood: Low

Like your phones a little curvy, a la the Galaxy Nexus? Sorry, the next iPhone probably isn't for you. For a while rumors hinted that Apple would radically redesign its flagship phone, perhaps even adopting a dramatically curved or teardrop shape. (These reports even predate the October 2011 launch of the iPhone 4S. It's increasingly clear, however, that the next iPhone will be a straight-backed feller much like the 4S.

RECOMMENDED READING:

Apple's Tim Cook Talks Siri, Steve, And Competition

Bigger iPhone Display: Why Apple Has No Choice

TSA Buys Into iPhones, iPads

Charlie Miller Makes iPhones Better By Attacking Them

IBM: Sorry, Siri. You're Not Welcome Here

Android Apps Slurp Excessive Data

Carrier IQ: What Carriers, Device Makers Must Do Next

Samsung Unveils Galaxy S III, Music Hub

5 Mobile Metrics That Matter For SMBs

iPhone Owners Use More Wi-Fi Than Android Users




Likelihood: High

Everybody else is doing it, why not Apple? More high-end smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy S III and the global version of the HTC One X, are packing a powerful quad-core processor. The next iPhone will too, reports say. Apple's long-awaited A6 CPU is the odds-on favorite. Indeed, iPhone fans wouldn't be happy if the new model featured the A5X, a dual-core chip with quad-core graphics that powers the third-gen iPad.

RECOMMENDED READING:

Apple's Tim Cook Talks Siri, Steve, And Competition

Bigger iPhone Display: Why Apple Has No Choice

TSA Buys Into iPhones, iPads

Charlie Miller Makes iPhones Better By Attacking Them

IBM: Sorry, Siri. You're Not Welcome Here

Android Apps Slurp Excessive Data

Carrier IQ: What Carriers, Device Makers Must Do Next

Samsung Unveils Galaxy S III, Music Hub

5 Mobile Metrics That Matter For SMBs

iPhone Owners Use More Wi-Fi Than Android Users




Likelihood: Low

Maybe it was Steve Jobs' influence, but Apple has a serious thin fetish: Witness the MacBook Air, iPhone, and iPad (particularly the 2nd and 3rd generations). Could the iPhone 5 lay claim to the title of World's Thinnest Smartphone? Recent rumors from the often-unreliable Digitimes, a Taiwanese trade publication and source of much tech gossip, suggest that Apple's suppliers' use of in-cell touch panels, which meld color filters and touch sensors into one layer, could help iPhone engineers built an even thinner handset, according to iPhone Themes . But it's doubtful the iPhone 5 will be skinnier than the recently announced ZTE Athena, which is just 6.2mm thick. The iPhone 4S, by comparison, is downright chubby at 9.3mm. ILounge reports the next iPhone will reduce its thickness by nearly 2mm to a super-svelte 7.4 mm.

RECOMMENDED READING:

Apple's Tim Cook Talks Siri, Steve, And Competition

Bigger iPhone Display: Why Apple Has No Choice

TSA Buys Into iPhones, iPads

Charlie Miller Makes iPhones Better By Attacking Them

IBM: Sorry, Siri. You're Not Welcome Here

Android Apps Slurp Excessive Data

Carrier IQ: What Carriers, Device Makers Must Do Next

Samsung Unveils Galaxy S III, Music Hub

5 Mobile Metrics That Matter For SMBs

iPhone Owners Use More Wi-Fi Than Android Users




Likelihood: High

The 30-pin Apple Dock Connector, which graces the iPhone, iPad, and iPod, is the wide-mouth bass of mobile ports. It's oversized and ready for retirement, and Apple seems to agree. Reports from various sources claim the new iPhone is getting a smaller Dock Connector, most likely with fewer pins.

RECOMMENDED READING:

Apple's Tim Cook Talks Siri, Steve, And Competition

Bigger iPhone Display: Why Apple Has No Choice

TSA Buys Into iPhones, iPads

Charlie Miller Makes iPhones Better By Attacking Them

IBM: Sorry, Siri. You're Not Welcome Here

Android Apps Slurp Excessive Data

Carrier IQ: What Carriers, Device Makers Must Do Next

Samsung Unveils Galaxy S III, Music Hub

5 Mobile Metrics That Matter For SMBs

iPhone Owners Use More Wi-Fi Than Android Users




Likelihood: Low

Wireless charging is cool, but today's implementations are a tad clunky, requiring bulky paraphernalia like third-party sleeves and charging plates. It's probably just as easy to plug your phone into a wall socket. Apple's working on inductive charging technologies, a development last year that led some industry watchers to speculate that an upcoming iPhone, perhaps even the 2012 model, might feature wireless charging.

The tech industry is serious about inductive charging, and the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) wants hardware manufacturers to integrate its Qi technology into their devices to eliminate the need for a charging sleeve. This may happen, but the iPhone 5 won't lead the way.

RECOMMENDED READING:

Apple's Tim Cook Talks Siri, Steve, And Competition

Bigger iPhone Display: Why Apple Has No Choice

TSA Buys Into iPhones, iPads

Charlie Miller Makes iPhones Better By Attacking Them

IBM: Sorry, Siri. You're Not Welcome Here

Android Apps Slurp Excessive Data

Carrier IQ: What Carriers, Device Makers Must Do Next

Samsung Unveils Galaxy S III, Music Hub

5 Mobile Metrics That Matter For SMBs

iPhone Owners Use More Wi-Fi Than Android Users

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