The next major advance in Wi-Fi will be 802.11ac, which promises a huge jump in data rate and throughput. But that won't be ready in certified products until early 2013 and probably not optimized for smartphones until still later.
But based on Apple's Wi-Fi history for iPhone, and the ambitious plans by iPhone Wi-Fi supplier Broadcom, Apple might introduce support for the 5-GHz band in iPhone 5 (currently, all iPhones support Wi-Fi only on the 2.4-GHz band). The new band would let iPhones use a much less crowded frequency, and have a broader choice of channels for high quality connections.
Maintaining if not improving battery performance in smartphones requires a complex set of tradeoffs. A drop in battery performance would be a serious blow to iPhone 5. AnandTech notes that Motorola last year led the way to using a new, higher voltage chemistry, moving batteries up from 3.7 to 3.8 volts. Nokia and Samsung have followed suit.
"Thus it seems highly likely that Apple will also move to this chemistry given maturity and the tangible benefits it provides to [longer] battery lifetime," according to AnandTech.
Given the inclusion of the number "5" on the media invitations, it now seems certain that the next iPhone will carry the name "iPhone 5." That raises again what names mean to Apple, a question that sparked spirited debate when the expected "iPad 3" was released as simply "iPad" earlier this year.
One person that's given serious thought to what's in Apple's names is Horace Dediu, founder of Asymco.com, which analyzes technology markets, especially mobile.
In a recent blogpost, Dediu notes that "every hardware product that Apple has released has had a brand and a sub-brand. Macs for example use the Mac brand and a sub-brand...," with the sub-brands distinguishing specific functions or niches: Mac Pro, Mac Mini, and so on.
By contrast, both iPhone and iPad used what Dediu calls generational naming conventions."
"This implies no sub-branding, as the iPhone and iPad are the only identifiers of brand and hence the only meaning being imparted to the buyer. You either get an iPhone or an old iPhone."
In keeping with a lot of rumors about a smaller iPad, dubbed "iPad mini," Dediu concedes that Apple may be planning to sub-brand the iPad.
But apparently not the iPhone. "The launch announcement seems to clearly point to "5 being the name of the new iPhone," he says. "The brand remains iPhone and there will be no sub-branding."
"There will be no 'special' iPhone for different (e.g. low-end) markets. There will be no different form factor to accommodate different use cases. There will be no new jobs to be done for the iPhone. What a bummer."
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