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iPhone 5: What Can We Expect?

Jacob Chung, Ankit Tyagi |
September 14, 2011 | 9:09 a.m. PDT

Tech Editors


It's that time of year again. Analysts and Apple fans alike are anxiously waiting for the latest iPhone. The rumor mill has already been active trying to predict what new features and functionality the device will bring. Soon enough, we'll know which ones were right and which ones were not.

An iPhone 5 Mock Up, courtesy of Creative Commons
An iPhone 5 Mock Up, courtesy of Creative Commons

In the meantime, here's a look at what we think the next iPhone will bring to consumers:


Inside the device itself, all signs point to a dual-core A5 chip to function as the new processor, giving the new iPhone a speed boost. Since the original release of the iPhone, Apple hasn't released any new devices without an update to the core hardware, and it's hard to believe this one will be an exception.

According to CultOfMac's analysis, when the iPhone 4 was released, merely months after the iPad, Apple decided to use the same A4 processor for both. If Apple were to continue the trend, then the A5 would be the most logical processor for the upcoming iPhone since it's currently used in the iPad 2. 

Physical Properties

Apart from the iPhone 3G to iPhone 3GS update, every other iPhone update has trimmed a little bit of body weight and size from the previous generation. When Chinese case makers leaked photos of their claimed next generation iPhone cases, it became much more likely that this trend will continue to the next generation iPhone.  

The case leak shows a considerably thinner profile for the device along with rounded edges, almost taking the design of the iPad 2 and applying it to a smaller form. With this newfound design, the case is pointing to a larger width, which could lead to a larger screen as well.

Even though one of the staples of the iPhone has been the standard screen size, that may soon change. Ever since Android smartphones have been coming up with 4 inch screens, many people have hoped Apple would follow suit and build a bigger screen. Combining this with the new cases, it's easy to imagine a bigger screen, and makes this rumor relatively likely. 


Most industry sources and experts agree that the next iPhone will have an 8 megapixel camera, a definite upgrade from the iPhone 4's 5 megapixel camera. Once again, Apple has a history of updating cameras between product refreshes, and an 8 megapixel camera upgrade certainly follows suit. 

Recently, an image popped up across the Internet that appears to have cropped an 8 megapixel photo to about a 5 megapixel photo, which has a geotag location of Apple's campus. If this picture is accurate, then Apple has been testing the new camera on a prototype device already. 

NFC Chip

NFC--A short-range wireless payment system--came into the spotlight after Google began its "Wallet" program in late May. Sadly, since it launched, the only financial institution onboard with Google Wallet is Citibank. Sure, merchants love the idea of an easier and faster way of taking money from consumers, but financial backers apparently don't see it the same way. 

New York Times reported in March that two sources "with knowledge of the inner workings" verified a Qualcomm chip with NFC technology would be included in a future iteration of the iPhone. Still it seems unlikely. Hopping onboard Google's pet project doesn't fit Apple M.O. It's got the bones for something great in the future, but for now NFC is more of a novelty than a must-have feature.  


A more likely rumor is the iPhone being carried by all four major U.S. carriers. Rumors of the iPhone escaping the grasp of AT&T and Verizon surfaced in August when the Wall Street Journal cited unnamed sources who said the iPhone was coming in mid October on the Sprint network. Just a day later, rumors of the iPhone making its way to T-Mobile surfaced as Apple blog MacTrast cited a T-Mobile insider who said the fourth largest U.S. carrier would also be sporting the device. But, is this likely? 

Well, yes the claims do make sense. Apple initially went with an exclusive deal with AT&T because it meant a bigger payout. That exclusivity is now gone as AT&T is now offered on the Verizon network so opting for a bigger market on more carriers seems logical.


Peter Misek of Jefferies & Co. analyst group was quoted in Forbes as saying Qualcomm's LTE chipset, "is currently not achieving yields sufficient for inclusion in the iPhone 5." In other words, the infrastructure just is not there for it to be considered by Apple. Why would Apple add a technology still early in development into its flagship mobile device? The LTE coverage in major cities are spotty at best and practically non-existent in rural areas. 

Launch Date

Whether it includes the speculative new features or not, there one questions all Apple fans have in mind: When is it coming? 

In past launches, June and July were traditionally when new iPhones have been introduced. But this year, the months came and went without even a hint of the new device. 

Some say unexpected natural disasters are to be blamed and other speculate it might the patent wars delaying the launch. Whatever the case, the latest on the matter seems to be pointing to the date of October 15 as the launch date. So how likely is this? 

This one's a toss up. It's definitely possible the iPhone would be launching soon. After all, history tells us the expected launch date has passed. But, a month leaves very little time for Apple to set up its usual iPhone hoopla at Cupertino. 


Reach Jacob Chung here.

Reach Ankit Tyagi here.

Follow him on Twitter @ankittya.

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