There has been no shortage of rumors regarding Apple’s anticipated next-gen iPhone, with numerous reports claiming to reveal details about the device and its expected launch date. But what should we really expect? Here’s what we think we know so far.
What’s in a Name?
Will Apple’s next iPhone be called the iPhone 5, or will it follow in the iPad’s footsteps and be called “The new iPhone?” Or will Apple call it something else entirely? Considering how Apple changed the naming scheme for the iPad to just “iPad” (The new iPad), I’m betting they’ll do something similar for the iPhone.
What do you think Apple will call it?
Update 9/4/12: Apple’s iPhone media event features the shadow of a 5, fueling speculation that the device will indeed be called the iPhone 5.
Taller 4-Inch Display
Among the most persistant claims about Apple next-gen iPhone is that it will include a taller 4-inch display in 16×9 form, meaning that the next iPhone would be taller, but not wider. There have been a lot of credible sources reporting this at this point (Reuters, WSJ, Bloomberg, and others), and the taller display has already shown up in part leaks! I’d say it’s practically a given. In fact, iOS 6 automatically scales itself to a taller display.
It’s also worth noting that the rumored resolution of the taller display (640 x 1136) would qualify it as a Retina display as much as the iPhone 4 and 4S are considered to have Retina displays. Apple has also been rumored to use new “in cell touch” display technology, allowing a thinner display that uses slightly less power.
Again, this makes a lot of sense, and I have no reason to doubt Apple might make such a move. It’s also worth noting that Sharp claims to have already begun shipping thinner displays for the device! Check out this concept post to get an idea of what apps will look like on the taller screen.
Update 9/8/12: Apple’s event banner at Yerba Buena is made from stretched iOS icons, potentially hinting even further at a new, taller iPhone.
There have been more part leaks surrounding this year’s next-gen iPhone than I have ever seen for any Apple product. Even more interesting, most of those part leaks all seem to agree on details, such as that the new iPhone will have a two-tone metallic back, and will feature Apple’s tiny new micro-SIM standard.
Broad consensus of reports and part leaks also suggest that the next iPhone will be thinner (likely just 7.6mm thin!), feature a relocated headphone jack and FaceTime camera, and include a smaller dock connector. TheTechBlock has also provided some excellent analysis on the next-gen iPhone design, and why it has a two-tone back.
Recent photo leaks compare the new iPhone to the iPhone 4s, showing just how much thinner it is really likely to be (nearly 20%!).
The most recent indications suggest that the new iPhone won’t be significantly taller than the iPhone 4 or 4S in any practical sense.
Features and Specs
- 4G LTE – LTE data support for the iPhone has long been rumored, and the fact that Apple brought LTE to the iPad this year made the matter seem even more likely. Reports from numerous credible sources also suggest this will be the case, and the fact that the next iPhone has a slightly higher voltage and increased battery capacityserves as the icing on the LTE cake.
- Update 9/8/12: According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, the new iPhone will support global LTE, compared to the new iPad, which only supports LTE frequencies in the U.S.
- Smaller Dock Connector – This one’s also practically given, considering the number of credible reports and part leaks. While there has been some debate about how many pins the smaller dock connector will have, virtually every report so far agrees that the next iPhone will have a smaller dock connector of some sort. Apple is also rumored to be making an adapter so that the new iPhone can be used with older devices. Reports on the number of pins have ranged from 8 pins to 19 pins, although the most recent reports (and an interesting part leak) seem to settle on 9 pins. iOS 6 also references a 9-pin dock connector.
- Update 9/10/12: New comparison photos suggest the micro-dock connector will be roughly the same size as micro USB.
- Faster Processor and More RAM – while no specific claims have been made about the processor in the next-gen iPhone, it’s a fairly safe assumption that they will include a faster chip with more RAM in the device, as is the annual custom. BGR has also reported that the device will feature 1GB of RAM. A leaked logic board picture seemingly shows an A6 processor for the device.
- NFC – Another persistant rumor is that the new iPhone will have Near-Field Communications technology, which could enable users to make contactless payments for the device. There hasn’t been as much to support this claim, but prototypes have reportedly included NFC support, and there have been a few notable reports.
- Update 8/29/12: The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple, well-known for having inside sources, reports that the new iPhone will not have NFC.
- Improved Camera – Apple has improved the built-in cameras in each new iPhone release since the very beginning. It’s very likely that they’ll do the same with the ‘iPhone 5’.
- It Will Still Have a Home Button – all indications this far indicate that the next iPhone will have a home button. It will not be powered strictly by gestures, or be touch sensitive, as previous rumors have suggested.
Apple’s next-gen iPhone will almost certainly ship with iOS 6, which boasts a number of new features, including an all-new Maps app, Apple’s Passbook app, enhancements to Siri, and a whole host of other features and improvements. If Apple keeps with tradition, Apple will release iOS 6 at least a few days before they launch the new iPhone.
Numerous reports from big-name sources, including The Wall Street Journal, indicate that production is already well underway, which is to be expected if Apple does indeed plan to release the device in September.
This is yet another area in which a large number of mainstream outlets and other credible sources all agree. According to reports, Apple will announce the next iPhone on September 12th, possibly alongside the smaller 7.85-inch iPad. Pre-orders are expected to become available that same day, and the device is expected to be released on September 21. AT&T reportedly also expects a late-September launch.
Update 9/4/12: Apple has sent invitations to the media for an iPhone-related event on September 12th
Update 9/11/12: According to a new report from MacRumors, pre-orders may begin on September 14th rather than September 12.
It’s widely believed that the new iPhone will sell at the same price points as the iPhone 4S last year – $199/$299/$399 for the various models (U.S. pricing with 2-year contract).
What About the iPhone 4 and 4S?
When Apple released the iPhone 4S last October, the reduced the price of the iPhone 4 to $99, and the iPhone 3GS became free on contract. I anticipate that they will do the same this year: The iPhone 4S will drop to $99, and the iPhone 4 will become free on contract.
Farewell, iPhone 3GS!
Once the next-gen iPhone is released, there’s no good reason for Apple to keep the iPhone 3GS around any longer. I expect that it will go the way of the Dodo (although iOS 6 will apparently be supported on the 3GS). I don’t have a source to back this up, but it seems extremely likely. As of the beginning of September, Apple Store seem to be facing extremely limited stock of the iPhone 3GS, suggesting that it might be discontinued.
Wrapping it Up
While nothing is known for certain about the next-gen iPhone, its features or design, its announcement, launch date, or anything else until Apple officially confirms the details, there are a number of fairly safe bets about such things.
Even so, keep in mind that everything (and we mean everything) should be considered rumor at this point. We’ll keep you updated as we hear more!
Also, if you’d like to get a head start on planning for the next iPhone, check out our guide on when and where to sell your old iPhone, and how to prepare your old iPhone for selling or giving to someone else!