Apple's mailing of invitations to media for Sept. 12 and the number "5" shadowed under the number "12" pretty much confirm that next Wednesday we'll see the sixth generation of the iPhone, which some people, with little else to do, have been waiting for since early 2011. Traditionally, meaning for all two years we've been doing this, The Rollup offers our own best guess on what the Next iPhone will be like.
We're drawing heavily and unashamedly on a recent, and typically insightful, technical analysis by Brian Klug and Anand Lal Shimpi, two of the brains behind the hardware blog, AnandTech.com. They looked at: the historical pattern of actual technical decisions by Apple about the iPhone since its launch in 2007; an array of rumors; and their own assessment of technical feasibility of various features.
The historical trends show Apple is riding the 18-24 month cycle typical of silicon advances, and keying design changes to this cycle. About every two years, one or more key iPhone elements are changing: the overall appearance, processor architecture, graphics, cellular communications and the like. Based on those trends, iPhone 4S, the current model, is due for changes in several areas.
Exterior and screen
The two authors are giving great weight to a number of purported iPhone 5 casing and components that have emerged over the past few months, especially those posted in July by the Japanese electronics repair site, iLab Factory. The iLab photos show what at first appears to be a longer version of the iPhone 4S.
AnandTech notes several significant differences, though none are as dramatic as the fanciful imaginative Photoshop renderings so beloved by the iOSphere. The changes noted by AnandTech:
+ the longer body, to accommodate a taller (4 inches diagonal), but not wider screen, with 640 x 1136 resolution;
+ the apparent switch to a "more chromed" side metal band compared to the current brushed metal band, possibly with a beveled edge;
+ noticeably thinner body, compared to iPhone 4S presumably due to Apple's first use of what's called "in-cell" display technology, which essentially merges some layers in the LCD display (Most of the rumor focus on this has been on the fact that this lets Apple create a thinner phone; but it should also lead to some enhancements in image quality.);
+ relocating the 3.5mm headphone jack to the bottom of the phone, and introducing a much smaller 9-pin dock connector.
For a year at least, much of the rumoring about the iPhone 5 CPU has been over whether Apple would use a quad-core processor. AnandTech has consistently argued, based on past history, that Apple will more likely focus on introducing a smaller version of the existing, Apple-designed (and Samsung-manufactured) A5 chip, currently based on the dual-core ARM A9 architecture.
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