The iPhone 4S left Apple fans divided when it emerged last autumn. It might have been a new iPhone on the inside, but after 15 months of rumours and longing, many expected a genre-smashing design too.
The next iPhone will almost certainly enjoy a fresh look. Our slim hopes of seeing the new phone on display at WWDC this year were dashed, but rumours are buzzing about a September launch. So what should we expect from the upcoming handset? Read on to find out.
The iPhone 4S extinguished many people's hopes of seeing some fresh Apple flair in the design department. It's highly unlikely we'll be presented with exactly the same design for a third time running, so what might the Californian giant have in store for us?
The smart money points towards a taller device housing a 4-inch screen. Leaked technical blueprints, supposedly from Apple, gave our first real indication that the company was looking into a longer device. Since then, we've seen a leaked front panel, entire casings photographed and even a hands-on video with what is apparently an actual back case, all of which share the same dimensions.
More recently, the phone has been shown apparently fully assembled. While we can't say for certain if it's really the iPhone 5, it's pretty much exactly what we're expecting from it, so it's a good reference, if nothing else.
One interesting thing to note about those snaps is the smaller dock connector on the bottom. Various sources have suggested that the 30-pin connector found on current iPhones, iPads and iPods will be replaced by a smaller dock, perhaps connecting with only 8 pins to reduce internal space. While that could help make the phone more slender, it will mean it won't fit in any of the docks you currently own, unless Apple launches the adaptor it's apparently working on.
Interestingly, although the new phone is shown to be longer than the 4S, it doesn't seem to be any wider. If accurate, the iPhone 5 would likely be sporting a screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio, meaning it would allow widescreen video and movies to play on the phone without any black bars. So it's a bigger screen, but not just for the sake of keeping up with the ever-larger Android Joneses.
Apple’s iPhone 5 will be launching in September, according to the latest reports. If that proves true September should prove to be the perfect month to give the iPhone 5 a time of its own in the spotlight.
A longer display would also mean enough extra pixels for an additional row of app icons to be squeezed in at the top, meaning less flicking through screens to find the app you need.
The problem with a bigger screen -- and particularly with a changed aspect ratio -- is all app developers will need to redesign their apps to fit the new shape, which is bound to cause a few moans. Still, they had to do the same when Apple launched its original retina display and if the devs want their app on new iPhones, they'd better do as it says.
Both the photos and excellent video of the new cases hint that the rear of the phone will be part of the metal chassis, rather than the slab of Corning Gorilla Glass seen on the 4S. The rear has a striped design and, crucially, doesn't taper towards the bottom end. The longer design makes the new iPhone look like a stretched 4S -- if you want to get an idea of how this looks, check out these swanky 3D renders based on the leaked laptop battery parts.
Apple has a history of throwing in curve balls with these things, so we can't rule out a radically different design. Apple has exclusive rights to use Liquidmetal technology in its phones. Before you get excited about pouring out your new blower, Liquidmetal is the brand name for a type of alloy that's strong, light and can be heat-formed like plastic.
It's much easier to form into curving shapes than the aluminium Apple has previously used, so we could conceivably see a new flowing design or the teardrop-shaped back we heard about last year, before the iPhone 4S rocked up.
Alternatively, we might even get a totally transparent design so we can see our own sweaty hands grasping it -- but I'm not holding my breath on that one.
Apple has already unveiled the latest version of its mobile operating system and highlighted some key features that will be making their way to whatever blower it offers us.
One of the main features is the updated maps software, which is now powered by Apple itself (in collaboration with TomTom), rather than the Google Maps all iPhones currently use. More than 100 million businesses are listed in Apple's Maps app, with reviews and ratings popping up when you tap on individual buildings. A brand new feature is turn-by-turn navigation, so the app also functions as a sat-nav.
Also important are the updates Apple has given to the voice-activated assistant, Siri, which is now able to tell you all about sports (including the Premier League) and launch apps. Better yet, its functionality in Britain has been given a boost, finally letting you search for businesses -- such as restaurants, petrol stations and pubs -- outside of America.
Developers have access to an early beta form of iOS 6 so it's likely we'll see more about what will be on offer in the coming months. Will Apple build on its Find My Friends feature from iOS 5? In the past it has filed several patents for a new kind of social network, where users are matched based on their iTunes library or location.
It's also possible we'll see some tweaks to Game Center. Apple's idea of launching a social network built around your mobile gaming habits hasn't taken off in quite the way it hoped, so it's likely there will be more investment in that in the not too distant future.
You might wonder what Apple can really do with the camera, after enabling 1080p-resolution video recording on the iPhone 4S and high dynamic range (HDR) photos with iOS 5.
Here's an idea -- why not merge the two and have HDR videos? That's exactly what could be in store, thanks to Sony, which recently developed a special camera sensor that allows HDR movies on a phone for the first time.
If you're wondering what this means, think back to any occasion you took a picture or video indoors next to a window. Focus outside and the room appears dark, but focus inside and the window becomes a washed-out square of white light. HDR is a special technique that balances multiple sources of light for a clear, colourful image in a single snap.
Given Sony already provides the iPhone 4S sensor, HDR videos are suddenly looking like a solid bet for the next iPhone.
The newly announced iOS 6 promises improved photo sharing over Facebook and Twitter, and we're hoping for extra improvements to the built-in photo editing too. If not, we'll just go back to applying Instagram filters to all our pictures.
Apple gave the iPhone 4S a significant boost in power over the iPhone 4, improving not only its raw processing but also its gaming abilities, letting it tackle high-definition titles like Infinity Blade 2 with aplomb. It was a very welcome increase but even so, with new software generally comes more demanding services and it would be a shame to see the new phone starting to struggle.
The A5 chip in the 4S is a dual-core affair clocked at around the 1GHz mark. In comparison to the quad-core 1.8GHz monsters knocking about, that doesn't seem like an awful lot, but Apple has always been good at getting the best out of its chips. The A5X chip was unveiled alongside the new iPad -- it's dual-core too, but it's slightly nippier. There's a possibility we might see the A5X inside the next iPhone.
Apple could unveil the A6 chip, which may be quad-core. Four cores would provide some serious power but the knock-on effect is a drain on battery life. Apple's current range of chips, however, are able to dynamically change their clock speeds to only use as much power as necessary. I'd hope any quad-core processor would be able to do the same so we don't have to be in constant fear of our battery conking out. The Galaxy S3 manages pretty well, after all.
Will the iPhone 5 get 4G?
4G or not 4G? That is the question. Apple advertised the new iPad as a super-fast 4G device, but it was misleading on two fronts. Firstly, it's not technically 4G, though the name is starting to act as a catch-all term for faster mobile networks. It actually runs on the LTE network, which brings us neatly to our second point -- Britain doesn't have an LTE network. It's no wonder the Advertising Standards Authority rapped Apple on the knuckles for its cheeky claims.
For the sake of readability, let's stick to the 4G name and ask a better question -- when will the UK get a 4G network? There were fears Britain might have to wait until 2015 before steroids are pumped into its mobile Internet. Thankfully, regulator Ofcom recently announced the 4G spectrum auction would take place later this year, with nippy 4G services rolling out in 2013. Hooray!
Better yet, the new LTE network will be compatible with Apple's definition of 4G. Assuming the iPhone 5 will follow in the footsteps of the new iPad, the next iPhone should be rigged up and ready for super-fast Internet before 2013.
Waterproof - MP3 Waterproof Subacqueo - Mp3 Subacqueo
In the words of Alan Moore, smart phones have turned us all into superhumans. That is, until you drop them in the toilet.
Enter HZO, the company behind a nano-tech masterpiece that makes any electronic item waterproof from the inside. One demo showed an iPod touch being dipped into a fish bowl while still playing back music without a hitch.
Pocket-lint heard from the HZO boss that Apple and Samsung were interested in the new nano-tech, but if a concrete deal were underway, Apple would certainly tell its new partner to keep quiet. And while HZO sounds like magic from a wand, it's not a new tech at all.
'Conformal coatings', as they are known, have been around for years, so it's not like Apple hasn't considered them before. In some cases, this kind of treatment can even contribute to overheating -- and who wants to dip their phone into a bath just to cool it off?
Mobile payment system
It could be time for Apple to finally embed a near field communication (NFC) chip in its phone, similar to that of an Oyster card used to tap in on the London Underground.
This would allow the iPhone to replace your credit card so you could just swipe it against a reader in a shop for small purchases, and potentially enter your PIN directly onto the phone's screen for larger ones. With NFC-enabled phones like the Samsung Galaxy S3 opening the door to mobile payments in the UK, Apple will certainly want its foot in the door on the high street.
When will the iPhone 5 launch?
It's all well and good getting excited about the new technology the phone might be packing, but when are we going to actually see it in our hands?
Well, most nuggets of info point to a September launch. Sources speaking to iMore claim that we'll see the phone unveiled on 12 September, alongside the iPad mini we're also hoping for, with the phone going on sale a couple of weeks later.
Sources speaking to AllThingsD have also indicated a September launch, as have industry tipsters speaking to AppleInsider. The Financial Times reported that European phone networks are stocking up on the new nano-SIM cards that are supposedly going to be used in the iPhone 5, suggesting the phone isn't far away.
How much will the iPhone 5 cost?
Apple isn't exactly known for its bargain basement prices and the iPhones are no exception. The company doesn't release pricing info before launch, but as the latest addition to its glimmering product line-up, don't expect it to come cheap.
The iPhone 4S starts at the princely sum of £499 for the 16GB model, skyrocketing up to £699 if you want 64GB of storage. Apple tends to maintain its pricing plans when a new generation replaces an older one.
As soon as the phone arrives, you can expect all the networks to excitedly announce their plans and deals. You can currently get a 16GB 4S for free from £26 to £36 per month on two-year contracts, with the higher end obviously netting you more texts, minutes and data.
If you've got the cash, it can be cheaper in the long run to buy the handset outright and opt for a SIM-only contract such as the SIM 600 from Three. That gets you 600 minutes, 3,000 texts and unlimited data for £15 per month. Expect tariffs to be roughly similar for the new iPhone when it finally drops. We'll be putting together full pricing guides to help you make the most of your money so keep your eyes peeled in September.
iPhone 5 summary
Below is a quick round-up of our predictions for the iPhone 5. It's early days, but for now we think the following are likely:
- Improved processor and graphics
- New longer design
- 4-inch screen with 16:9 aspect ratio
- HDR video recording
- Metal back casing
- Late September arrival
We're filing the following in our 'maybe' cabinet:
- 4G support in UK
- Mobile NFC payments
- iPhone-exclusive social platform
- Wider home button or a touch-sensitive area under the screen
- Waterproof circuits
Will you save your pennies for the iPhone 5, or was the iPhone 4S enough tech for you