Apple hasn't provided any details on a new version of the iPhone, but most reports suggest it will have an improved camera and won't look all that different from the iPhone 4.
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Slideshow: Verizon iPhone 4 Teardown
As is typical, Apple has so far been mum on the subject of the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, or whatever the next-generation iPhone is going to be called. That has only added fuel to the speculation fires as to what Apple will and won't include in its next iPhone.
Chief among the new features for the iPhone 4S/5 is said to be an 8-megapixel camera. The iPhone 4 has a 5-megapixel camera. It includes a flash, and is capable of shooting 720p HD video. None of the reports has indicated whether or not the larger camera sensor also means that the next-gen iPhone will also be able to shoot 1080p HD video. Given the number of Android devices that can shoot 1080p HD video, the next iPhone ought to have that feature if it wants to keep up with the competition. Based on leaked case designs, it also appears that Apple is prepared to move the location of the flash, in a bid perhaps to help reduce red-eye in photographs.
Macotakara, citing an anonymous source, on Monday 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. The iPad 2, released earlier this year, runs Apple's A5 processor, which has two cores at 1GHz each. The suggestion that Apple would move away from its own chip to an ARM-based one doesn't quite sit right.
Earlier this month, Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter Misek suggested that the iPhone 4S/5 will indeed have an A5 chip. "According to our industry checks, the device should be called iPhone 4S and include minor cosmetic changes, better cameras, A5 dual-core processor, and HSPA+ support," he wrote in a research note.
The A5 processor is the dual-core 1-GHz beast that is in the iPad 2. Using the A5 in the next-gen iPhone also makes sense, and would follow Apple's pattern of behavior in the past. (The original iPad had the 1-GHz A4 processor, as did the iPhone 4.) Sticking the dual-core A5 in the iPhone 4S would certainly give it a kick in the performance pants. The A5, as experienced in the iPad 2, is blazing fast.
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.
Last, there are several disparate reports concerning whether or not the next-gen iPhone will have a SIM card within. Earlier this year, France-based Orange CEO Stephane Richard said, "As you probably know, Apple has been working for years on reducing the size of SIM cards because they need space in the phone. They even thought about a device without any SIM card, that is what is known as the e-SIM project. All of us told them it was a bad idea because the SIM card is a critical piece of the security and authentication process. It would be very difficult for a telco or carrier to manage the customer relationship. I think that they understood this point. We had a very constructive exchange and dialogue with them."
Even so, with the support of Orange, Apple has submitted a proposal to the European Telecoms Standards Body that would create a new SIM card that's smaller even than the microSIM it uses in the iPhone 4 and iPad. The iPhone4/iPad 2's microSIM is about half the size of standard SIM cards. Apple proposed the smaller SIM card standard so it can further reduce the size of SIM cards needed in its devices and allow for thinner future products. Apple continues to be obsessed with making things as small as possible.
What about the timing? The suggested timeframe for availability is late July or early August, though this is the bit of information most likely to be in flux. Earlier this year, the iPhone 4S/5 was pegged for a September launch, close to when Apple traditionally holds a music-focused event.
A major redesign of the iPhone--perhaps the iPhone 6?--isn't expected to debut until spring 2012 the earliest.
Earlier Tuesday, Apple announced details surrounding the opening keynote for its WorldWide Developer Conference. It called out iOS 5 and iCloud software services in particular, but didn't say anything about new hardware. The only time Apple has used WWDC to announce new hardware was back in 2009, when it bowed the iPhone 3GS. It is unlikely that Apple will use this year's WWDC keynote to reveal the new iPhone.
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