What's in the new Apple iPhone?

Speculation on what is in the next iPhone.

It’s that time again for Apple to update its iPhone and iPad products.  Apple has slipped in market share in both smartphones and tablets recently although they are still very much amongst the leaders with Samsung and a few others.  Apple is expected to announce some new products on September 10th.  Is your two year contract up yet and are you just looking for a new phone?  Here are some of the rumors I have heard about the new phone if you are interested.

First, the new iPhone is probably not a full redesign.  The new model is most likely not the iPhone 6.  That is in all probability a next year product.  You can expect this to be an iPhone 5S like the iPhone 4 was upgraded to a 4S a year or so ago.  The 5S will most likely be of the same size with its 4-inch screen that looks smaller than the competition’s screens.  One rumor says that the aluminum case will be replaced by plastic body and will be available is some colors not available before.  Not a revolutionary change but one that will appeal to some.

Another purported new feature is a camera upgrade from 8 to 13 megapixels.  A great improvement for some.  And that apparently comes with dual LED flash.

One really interesting suspected feature is a finger print reader.  Does any other smartphone have this?  Does anyone really want it?  It seems like just one more irritating process to go through to access the phone.  I guess there are some paranoid users who cannot allow anyone to access their phone if it gets lost or stolen.  Hopefully this is just an option as many of us do not want it.  I find it hard to believe it is a hot selling point.

While the screen will not get larger with this iteration of the iPhone, it could be changed.  Maybe a newer technology or improved brightness or resolution.  An always welcome change.

Inside, it is hard to say what they will change.  Processor upgrades are common so perhaps you can expect a faster processor.  Or maybe more memory.

As for Near Field Communications (NFC) used for the digital wallet credit card replacement, forget it.  What is in it for Apple?  I heard that Samsung was dropping its NFC feature.

Perhaps the most noticeable addition to the new 5S is Apple’s updated iOS to version 7.  It is said to change the look and feel of the phone while remaining generally familiar.  The user interface has been pretty consistent over many models now so some revision will give the whole phone a fresh new look.  It will be interesting to see what features have been added. They say it will take some relearning of phone operations, but it is better at multitasking and cloud functions and is easy to customize.  I wonder if the maps have been updated too.  The new OS may actually be the best reason to upgrade to this phone but I suspect iPhone 5 owners may be able to download iOS7.  We shall see.

What Apple really ought to do is retool the iPhone for the China market.  China uses the TD-LTE method as version different from the rest of the world’s FDD-LTE.  Huge market to tap.  Chips are available to do that now.  I bet Samsung is working on a TD-LTE model.

Smartphones have come a long way in just a few years.  It is increasingly difficult for handset makers to distinguish themselves from one another.  Bigger screens have been working to sway some customers but that has no doubt come to an end with the 5+-inch screen of the Samsung Note II.  That is probably the largest the consumer will accept.  The Note is hugely popular despite is somewhat awkward size.  Who would have thought?

Nokia’s new Lumia 1020 has a 41 megapixel camera.  Wow!  That is greater resolution than most professional SLRs.  What was Nokia thinking with this?  There is a diminishing return as resolutions get over say 20 megapixels.  A niche market if there ever was one.

Cosmetics is always a popular distinguishing feature.  Many feel that their phone must look good.  It has to be “cool” and that varies with the individual.  Color, texture, materials, all matter.  The hot new HTC One has a great aluminum case not to mention dual front-facing speakers.  Something for everyone.

So watch for the September 10 reveal to see the details on the 5S and to see if the also rumored cheaper iPhone 5C is a reality. You will also find out what the new iPads will look like.  Probably just cosmetic changes but also with the new iOS7.  And will they drop the 4 and 4S models completely?

But that’s not all.  Also look for Apple’s rumored wrist watch product in the coming months.  It probably is not a September 10 announcement but I bet early 2014 will bring that potentially amazing wearable product.  Apple is already under pressure in the wearable space because of the other watch-like products from Pebble, Sony, Samsung and others.  Will it be an accessory to an iPhone or an actual wrist smartphone?

Discuss this Blog Entry 2

on Aug 21, 2013

41 megapixel camera . . . There is a diminishing return as resolutions get over say 20 megapixels. -agreed. Can the optics even resolve that? The only thing would be if the optics was good enough mid field to use it as an electronic super zoom.

As for the fingerprint reader, I thought it was frivolous when one came on my laptop. Now I wouldn't have a laptop without it, so I might like it on a cell phone. It isn't just for protecting access to the phone. This is a smart phone. It can be used to store all of the internet log-on passwords, while keeping them safe from anyone who doesn't have your fingerprint. Think bank log-in, for instance. Think mobile deposit with the phone's camera. Yes, I'd love to have a fingerprint reader so I could store my bank password (which is dutifully high security, and thus hard to remember or enter--especially on a touch screen) without fear of someone stealing my phone and then cleaning out my bank account.

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Lou Frenzel

Lou Frenzel is the Communications Technology Editor for Electronic Design Magazine where he writes articles, columns, blogs, technology reports, and online material on the wireless, communications...
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