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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Which New iPhone 5 Rumors Pass The Smell Test?

China News Business Times Reporters Zheng Shufang and Liu Jiaxi report that industry scuttlebutt has it that the iPhone 5 has entered its trial production stage with Apple’s subcontractor Hon Hai Electronics, will have a, A5 dual-core processor, a metal chassis to improve antenna sensitivity, a scratch-resistant 4-inch capacitive touchscreen, and a 50 millon pixel camera, and will be equipped with “wave and pay” Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, and slated for release in 3Q ’11, although main Apple contract manufacturers don’t comment on rumors if they want to remain in Apple’s good graces.
The China Times columnists also report that Hon Hai plans to build a new plant at Sao Paulo, Brazil, specifically to manufacture Apple OEM products, but that’s not projected to begin production until 2013.
Meanwhile, it would seem that whatever feature set the iPhone 5 emerges with has been set, so here’s a rundown of what we may or may not see come the unveiling based on rumors out there:

Faster Processor and More RAM
it’s virtually certain that iPhone 5 will be powered by the same A5 dual core processor that Apple introduced in the iPad 2. Much less likely I think are suggestions that Apple might double the iPhone 5′s RAM capacity from the 512 MB in the current iPhone to two gigabytes of RAM. Apple has only taken the iPad to up to 512 MB, and there seems little reason to believe that they’ll go with more in the iPhone 5.

Bigger Display
There is a strong likelihood that the iPhone 5 will have a larger display, most likely somewhere measuring four inches diagonal. I’ll be surprised if this doesn’t materialize; the larger screen will be touted heavily my Apple’s marketing and promotion arms.

Higher-resolution Display
It is far less less likely that the iPhone 5 will have greater resolution than the current, excellent Retina display in the iPhone 4.

Case Design
Most prognosticators expect the iPhone 5 to look a lot like the iPhone 4 although as noted, many expect a larger display and possibly a brushed aluminum back panel replacing the current glass back. A virtually sure thing is that a white iPhone will finally be offered with version 5. However, rumors that the iPhone 5 could have a physical keyboard can be safely considered someone’s wishful thinking.

Carbon Fiber Case
Carbon fiber composites are the structural engineering material of the future, and thanks to recent advances in production efficiency, they’re going to be more and more common in mainstream as well as high-end products like the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s fuselage and wings, and the new McLaren MP4-12C, exoticar, which features a one-piece molded carbon fiber composite chassis tub. They will be especially well-suited to making computer and igadget enclosures, being extremely lightweight, amazingly strong, non-conductive, and not blocking RF signals. I don’t think we’ll see a carbon fiber iPhone 5, however.

Antenna Moved Inside
After the press feeding fender frenzy over the antenna in the iPhone for losing gain if touched by the hand holding the iPhone, it’s quite probable that Apple will move the antenna back inside in a more conventional configuration, most likely similar to the way the antenna is configured in the iPad.

64 GB Storage / The Cloud
There’s a possibility that Apple could offer 64 GB capacity as an option with the iPhone 5. At the other end of the spectrum, some have suggested that Apple may also offer a bare-bones version of the iPhone 5 at a lower price, possibly with cloud data storage and only enough internal RAM to run the machine and perhaps serve as a temporary buffer. Something is brewing with Apple building a major data center in Tennessee, that could mean a substantially greater emphasis on the cloud for Apple devices.
Ready for the iPhone 5? I’m on the fence here.

Improved Battery Life
An improvement in battery life is possible, although don’t expect anything dramatic.

Better Camera
iPhone 4 has a 5MPx camera. Rumor has it that iPhone 5 will get an 8 MPx camera, but the China Times report says they’re sticking with 5 5MPx, and given that the cameras in the iPad 2 are described by most reviewers as mediocre at best. Apple hasn’t chosen to disclose the iPad camera’s megapixel rating, but it seems highly improbable that it’s any more than 5MPx. I’m not anticipating any change in the camera spec from the iPhone 4.

Home Button to Be Replaced/Moved
A fairly persistent rumor has been that the Home button will disappear, and the iPhone 5 getting either touch sensitive controls or the button moved to one of the phone’s edges. If there’s to be a bigger screen, things will have to be reorganized. However, my guess is that the iPhone 5 wil still have a Home button somewhere.

A CDMA Model iPhone 5
Code-Division Multiple Access (CDMA), is a digital cellular technology that uses spread-spectrum techniques and competes with the GSM celular technology that the iPhone currently supports.
Another rumor that’s been making the rounds, actually for for several years, now is that Apple will launch a dual-mode iPhone that works on both GSM and CDMA networks, serving AT&T and Verizon customers simultaneously.

Near Field Communication (NFC) technology
There have been rumors going both ways on this one, and I’ve already blogged here on the topic a couple of times. I think it’s inevitable in the long run that Apple will include “wave and pay” NFC on the iPhone, but whether it will be ready for the iPhone 5 is another matter. I’m completely on the fence on this one having heard compelling arguments from both camps. The China Times report says it’s a go.

HDMI Output
The iPad to has enhanced HDMI output capability, and it seems more probable than not that the iPhone 5 could have HDMI output added using the same optional connector as the iPad 2.

Enhanced Voice Recognition
Another rumor is that with IOS 5, expected to make its debut along with the iPhone 5, the iPhone will get enhanced voice recognition capabilities and more voice commands. I don’t have a strong conviction either way on this feature’s likelihood this time around.

Release Not Coming Until November
The reasoning on this one is that due to February’s Verizon iPhone 4 release, Apple will push the iPhone five’s debut back to late summer or even November. I think November is highly doubtful, and am still anticipating a late spring or early summer release.

There are probably a few more, but that should cover most of the iPhone 5 rumored feature bases. Remember, the opinions expressed are speculation, logical deduction, semi-educated guesswork, plus rumors and leaks from the far East, which have a mixed record for accuracy. Unless someone leaves a prototype iPhone 5 in a bar, as happened last year with the iPhone 4, we’ll all have to wait for the announcement date to know for sure.

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