Apple is less than 24 hours away from announcing the next iPhone. Unlike previous announcements, this show will be intimate and small, held at Apple’s HQ rather than a large venue like the Moscone Center. Most important, Steve Jobs isn’t headlining the show; although, if rumors are to be believed, he might make a cameo.
Apple is rather tardy releasing this latest iPhone, missing its traditional summer launch date by a good two months. However, if the rumor mills are to be believed, there, the new iPhone will be very similar to the old iPhone – except where it isn’t.
TechCrunch compiled all of the rumors here along with stating the viability for each. Some are wide-eyed, others are realistic, while some are pure fanboy fantasy.
The iPhone 4S Will Be A Less Expensive iPhone
- Numerous leaked SKU line ups with iPhone prototypes that are made of just plastic rather than glass and aluminum found in Brazil.
- Apple would completely disrupt Android and Windows Phone 7 by selling a new iPhone at $100 or less.
- The iPhone 4 still packs enough computing power for most users.
- Unsubstantiated leaks cannot be trusted
Judgment: The stars just seem aligned for this one. The iPhone 4 is still a hot phone despite being over 15 months old. Apple just needs to repackage the current hardware into a less expensive body to completely demolish the competition.
Redesigned, thinner iPhone 5
- Countless thinner cases have leaked over the previous months all purportedly built for the next iPhone.
- Every successive iPhone has been thinner than the previous.
- Apple likes to keep design cues constant between products and so the next iPhone will look similar to the iPad.
- None, it’s a pretty solid claim
Judgment: Apple has never released a product thicker than the previous model and won’t start with the next iPhone.
- The iPhone 4′s 3.5-inch screen is tiny compared to recent superphones from Motorola, Samsung, and LG.
- Leaked cases signal that the next iPhone will be physically longer and wider. A larger screen is logical if the size of the iPhone is increasing.
- Our own research has shown that a larger screen is “likely.”
- Larger screen could mess with apps designed for the smaller screen
Judgment: Apple cannot ignore the current popular trend of larger screen sizes. As long as the phone is thinner, a larger screen will not make the phone feel any bigger.
- Apple has always pushed the limit with its LCD implementation.
- Edge-to-edge glass would give Apple something to tout over just using a larger screen.
- Likely higher manufacturing cost, which would cut into the profit margin
- Could lead to more broken screens
Judgment: Not likely just yet. Apple pushes the limit but only as far as its financially viable.
- NFC is the next big thing and already a feature on leading Android handsets
- An NFC-equipped iPhone would further the advancement of mobile payments
- Current NFC radios are separate microchips and not integrated into a unified communication chip, which requires PCB real estate and extra battery power
- Apple could be waiting until the payment companies make a lucrative offer to them
Judgment: Apple tends to incorporate non-proprietary tech only after its viability is proven. So that’s a “No.”
Dual-core A5 CPU
- Apple tends to include a faster CPU with each iPhone release
- iOS 5 will likely benefit from a faster, dual-core CPU
- More powerful CPUs tend to decrease battery life
Judgment: It’s very likely the next major iPhone will have the A5 CPU. However, Apple might stick with the A4 for a mid-model refresh like the rumored iPhone 4S
New home button
- Leaked cases and bezels show an elongated opening/button
- Touch-sensitive bezels allows for new controls, multitouch gestures
- Completely changes Apple’s “Keep It Simple, Stupid” design
- Could break current apps
Judgment: Don’t start designing your next Kickstarter iPhone case project around this rumor. Apple will likely stick with its traditional home button.
- MP count has increased with every new iPhone release
- An 8MP photo previously appeared with iPhone 5 metadata
- Megapixel counts are unfortunately a comparison point between different phones
- Higher megapixel counts does not necessarily improve picture quality. Apple knows this. Hopefully.
CDMA/GSM dual-mode radio
- The next iPhone will use Qualcomm Gobi Baseband and run on both GSM and CDMA networks
- Dual-mode phones have shown up in developer’s usage stats
- Would allow Apple to makes/sell just one version, decreasing manufacturing costs
- Allow Apple to sell a completely unlocked iPhone. Buy one from the Apple Store and activate it however you want
- Carrier independence is a huge selling point
- Dual-mode mobile radios are still very rare
- R&D cost could make it financially unfeasible
Judgment: It’s hard to say. The upsides are huge for both Apple and consumers, but dual-mode radios are not widely used. Apple tends to use highly-available and therefore, high margin components.
Extensive voice controls
- The next iPhone will have powerful voice controls built by Siri, which Apple bought last year for $200m
- The voice controls would outclass Android’s with more natural navigation paths
- These function would need beefy hardware like the rumored A5 CPU, which creates an up-sell point for iPhone 4 owners
- None, really. Seems like a logical step for iOS.
Judgment: It’s hard to predict future iOS features, but more beefy voice controls are probably on the road map.