Apple iPhone users know that traditionally July is the month to expect the latest iPhone to be announced. We South Africans then typically get it a few months later. So it is pretty sad that so far this year there was no iPhone announced at WWDC, which has always been the case. But luckily in a few hours (19:00 SA time), we will know what Apple has been working on.
There is of course a few things that also needs to be in place before iPhone. First of which is iCloud – Apple’s great new syncing service which will keep all your iOS and Mac devices in sync. Announced in September, the service is a tremendous undertaking by Apple, who has always charged for its cloud based storage. This time round they are rolling it out to everyone, and the the service will be integrated right into the iOS operating system. Users have been testing the iOS5 beta for a while now, and the iCloud services are slowly being enabled. There has not been a lot a of iOS5 Beta updates recently, so expect the software to roll out as Golden Master within the next few days.
What is perhaps more interesting is rumours of Apple releasing a cheaper version of the iPhone. If this is true, huge sales can be expected. For the last two releases of iPhone, Apple kept the older model on the market with a slightly decreased storage capacity at a slightly lower cost. Typically the cost difference was negligible, so most users just opted for the latest model. But in recent times other smartphone manufacturers have started bringing out cheaper and cheaper phones, which was still fairly capable, particularly in the Android camp. Now this might indeed just be the iPhone 4 that is kept on the market.
Sure, people can argue that Apple has always been more expensive than their competitors, but in the mobile market this strategy might not work for them. And the low price of the iPad compared to other tablets already show that Apple can make a high quality product at a lower price. (See our review of the iPad 2 here) So the time might be ripe for Apple to start shipping lower end versions of the iPhone…
So what new can we expect from the iPhone 5? Rumours are pretty scarce right now, but most seem to point towards a larger screen. The current 3.5 inch “Retina” display of the iPhone is incredibly detailed, but it is quite a bit smaller compared to other new phones on the market (just one look at the Samsung Galaxy S2 screen in person to see how great a large screen on a phone can look). A larger screen which still fits in the same size iPhone body will mean that the bezel around the screen would need to be much smaller.
Another point where the iPhone can be improved on is the use of glass on the rear of the phone. Yes, it really looks great, and feels great in your hand. But it is also fragile, so we will have to see if Apple will change its choice of material. Case designers are speculating a return to a curved edges around the rear panel, which means that the phone will feel smaller in hand.
The new iPhone 5 (or iPhone 4s) will almost certainly ship with the dual core Apple A5 processor, and potentially more memory. Other potential features to look out for is adoption of the NFC standard, implementation of “personal assistant” functionality (from Apple’s acquisition of Siri), and improved camera… So, what features are you hoping for in the next iPhone?