The next iPhone is just a few days away from its big unveiling at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Rumors about the device have circled since the day after the launch of the iPhone 4S last October.
Image via Martin Hajek
As we’re about to finally see the “real deal,” we thought now would be a good time to reflect on the rumors to date. Below, you’ll find a roundup of rumors organized by category, to fuel your anticipation for next Wednesday, September 12.
Rumors of a 4-inch iPhone display date back as far as February 2011. More recent part leaks and information from case manufacturers leads to the conclusion that the next iPhone will indeed have a larger, roughly 4-inch display, compared to the 3.5-inch display found on all previous iPhones.
Image via Ciccarese Design
The dimensions of leaked screens and information found in developer builds of iOS 6 indicate that the screen will be the same width as the current iPhone, but taller, with a resolution of 1136-by-640, compared to 960-by-640 on the 4 and 4S.
In-cell display technology is also expected to make its iPhone debut with the upcoming version. By integrating the display and touch layers of the screen, which are currently separate stacked layers on the iPhone 4S, Apple can reduce the thickness of the screen and, depending on how it is implemented, also improve touch responsiveness.
Apple’s experience with “unibody” designs on its laptops is expected to be employed on the next iPhone. Leaked parts indicate that the product will have a single aluminum shell, encompassing the back and sides. This will allow the next iPhone to be thinner and stronger than the design of the iPhone 4/4S, and will also help address the “broken glass” issue that many iPhone owners have experienced with the current design’s glass back.
Image via iLab Factory
LTE, or “Long Term Evolution,” is a cellular data technology that offers upload and download speeds significantly greater than those of “3G” technologies found on current iPhones. Rumors, statements and actions by mobile carriers, and market necessities mean that the next iPhone will definitely offer support for LTE data.
The iPhone 4S uses Apple’s custom-designed “A5” dual-core processor, which made its debut in the iPad 2 in early 2011. When the third generation iPad was released earlier this year, Apple unveiled the new “A5X” processor which, while still dual core for the CPU, employed a quad-core GPU.
Part leaks suggest that Apple is moving to a new “A6” chip for the next iPhone, although it is unclear what the new features of the platform are over the existing A5X.
Competing smartphones are beginning to employ quad-core processors from companies such as Texas Instruments, nVidia, and Qualcomm so, if Apple is able to manage the power requirements of a quad-core platform, it would not be surprising to see one on the next iPhone.
Apple is expected to move its entire iDevice product line to a new, smaller 9-pin dock connector, abandoning the 30-pin connector that has served the vast majority of iDevices since Apple’s early iPods over ten years ago.
Image via TapScape
Earlier this year, Apple fought and won a battle to obtain standards approval for its “nano-SIM” design. Thinner and shorter than a standard SIM card, the design allows more room inside of a mobile device to be devoted to performance components, such as batteries or memory chips.
Image via Nowhereelse.fr
We were initially unsure as to the timing of Apple’s plans to introduce the standard in its mobile devices but new leaks indicate that the smaller SIM card will make its debut in the next iPhone.
Every iPhone to date has featured a headphone jack on the top of the device. Multiple part leaks suggest that the next iPhone will take a page from its iPod touch cousin and move the headphone jack to the bottom of the device.
Image via Nowhereelse.fr
The significantly smaller dock connector, discussed above, allows room for a larger speaker and microphone, along with a relocated headphone jack.
We’re unsure if the change is driven entirely by an effort to optimize the internal layout of components, or if Apple has internal studies showing that users prefer the headphone jack on the bottom of the device. All we know is that after more than five years of developed muscle memory, we’ll be attempting to jam our headphones into the top of the iPhone for a few weeks after its launch.
After Apple launched its third-generation iPad in March with the awkward name of “The New iPad,” many thought the naming convention of the iPhone would change as well, with the next iPhone simply being called “iPhone.” After all, there are only so many numbers Apple can append to a product’s name before it becomes unwieldily, even if it throws the occasional “S” in there.
According to Apple’s invitation to the iPhone’s launch event, however, it appears that the company will stick with the numbers for now, and will likely call the product “iPhone 5.”
What Not to Expect:
- Near Field Communication (NFC): despite early rumors that Apple would incorporate NFC technology into the next iPhone, reports from The Wall Street Journal and technical analysis of current part leaks indicate that NFC is at least a generation away from implementation.
Image via iPhone5forums
- Significantly Improved Camera: the 8-megapixel camera found in the iPhone 4S is one of the best phone cameras ever made, and Apple is rapidly approaching the point of diminishing returns in areas like megapixels. We may see new software features, but a significant improvement to the camera hardware, such as interchangeable lenses, is unlikely.
- More Storage: the current iPhone is offered in capacities of 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB and we expect that to continue with the iPhone 5. Apple is strongly pushing iCloud for accessing data and media on the go, and with new rumors of an Apple-run Pandora-like streaming service, the need for more storage, from Apple’s perspective at least, is small. Apple wants most of all to keep prices competitive while maximizing profit, and keeping storage quantities at their current, well-established levels is in the company’s best financial interests.
Image via Concept Phones
- Radical Redesign: as mentioned above, the next iPhone will have a new unibody design, larger screen, and new dock connector. But, at its core, it is basically a “taller iPhone 4S.” The new hardware will give the product greater capabilities, but those who were hoping for a major redesign with a completely new form factor will be disappointed.
The next iPhone will be unveiled by Apple on Wendesday, September 12 at 10 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. EDT / 17:00 GMT). The Mac Observer will be in attendance and provide full coverage of the day's news and product releases.