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4th October 2011

Speculating over the next iPhone

Thoughts By 5 years ago

It seems everyone is speculating on what the next iPhone will contain, so I thought I would join in. I”d like to point out that I have a radically different view of what the iPhone should contain when compared to other people, so I will separate this blog into my thoughts on commonly requested features and my own personal wish list. I will also be assuming that Apple will release 2 Phones (a new model and a revamped 4), a big assumption that I don”t necessarily swing one way or the other on but that I will never the less accommodate.

More Processing Power

The chances that the new iPhone will have more processing power are a good bet, Apple gave the iPad 2 more processing power and I don”t see them leaving the iPhone”s processing power as it is. The Processor they put into the iPad 2 was a 1GHz A5 Dual Core, so it”s a safe bet they have re-engineered it to fit into the iPhone. As a developer I frequently run into processing walls that I find hard to get around, so I think this will be great for the iPhone, it will lead to more creative image/sound processing apps that use these mediums in an innovative way.

Apple's A5 Processor (Photo Credit: Apple)

Better Camera:

Sony is rumoured to have created an 8 megapixel camera for the next iPhone. This is an improvement of 3 megapixels, which is great for the quality of the pictures you can take. Given that the smart phone are making short work of cameras and camcorders this will just further drive the stake in, and I think this is a good thing, if 1 device can do the work of many why are many needed? I will say though, that I will not be affected by this not being one of those people that feel they need to record everything they see, I am just happy that the technology is continuing to improve.

iPhone 4's Camera (Photo Credit: Geek With Laptop)

References:
Leaked Photo Suggests the iPhone 5 camera won”t be much of an upgrade
Apple iPhone 5: Reviewing the rumors before the debut

1080p Video Recording:

Like the better camera, I”m not sure this is something I would get a lot of use out of, but that I am glad will exist. 1080p simply means higher definition than 720p (both of which are considered HD), I think it”s pretty impressive that a phone has enough grunt to record video in 1080p since it would be very processor intensive (especially if its compressing on the fly, which I imagine it will). However given more processing power I can see this being a reality.

1080p Video Recording (Photo Credit: Johns iPhone)

References:
– Next IPhone To Have 1080p Video Recording

Bigger Hard Drive

Now this is something I have really been waiting for, the increase in the iPhone”s hard disk space. Rumours have circulated that it will increase to 64GB for it”s top model, dam. While I appreciate this change, I was looking for an (unrealistic) increase to 128GB so I could put my music on it and ditch my old loyal iPod. The chances this will happen are pretty strong, given that people are using their smartphones for more and more tasks like taking video (32GB runs out pretty quickly with 1080 video stored on it)

German Carrier Leaks iPhone 4S Specs (Photo Credit: AppleInsider)

References:
German carrier lists Apple “iPhone 4S” in 16GB, 32GB & 64GB capacities

Improved Modem:

Another improvement that I can really get behind. Not that I have any major issues with the iPhone 4″s modem, but I would like to see support for HSPA (coming to Telstra very soon in my area). The difference in speed between a regular 3G network and HSPA is immense, with speeds maxing out at around 21 mbps. Now it is true that LTE 4G networks would be faster, the specs for these have not been finished (and only loosely implemented in a handful of countries), so quite frankly I”m OK with Apple waiting on the IEEE to finalise a 4G communications protocol before they push it into their phones. An updated iPhone 4 actually came out earlier in the year which supported CDMA (a telecommunications protocol) enabling the phone to be used with more networks around the world, so I would not be surprised if they made another upgrade to include HSPA .

T-Mobile HSPA (Photo Credit: HotCellularPhone)

References:
Chinese carrier says Apple”s iPhone 5 will support 4G-like HSPA

Improved Battery Life:

Battery Life is always a funny metric to use when comparing smart phones, it not only depends on the battery being used but the software running on the phone and the hardware the phone uses. Having said that, every other upgrade to the iPhone has featured a battery improvement, and I don”t see why this wouldn”t, however I do not think it will be as big as the 40% leap between the 3GS and the 4, I would take a guess at around 10% if that (which I do still think is a reasonable improvement given the seemingly static nature of battery technology lately).

Battery on the iPhone (Photo Credit: Apple iPhone 5)

Better Speakers:

This is definitely something I would like to see improved, but not something that I would expect to be improved. Although speakers on smartphones are generally low volume and bad quality (which the iPhone is absolutely no exception to), the fact is it”s just hard to make speakers that small that have any oomf at all. Having said that, I”d love to see Bose and Apple partner up to address this problem. An obvious improvement could be the implementation of stereo speakers rather than just the mono setup they currently have, but in all honesty I don”t think this will do much. Given the iPhone 4 and 3 speakers were roughly the same I don”t actually see the new iPhone doing anything special in this regard.

iPhone 5 Speakers (Photo Credit: Freaks Geeks)

Thinner:

I want this, not because the iPhone 4 is fat but because I always enjoy seeing how far Apple can go when making their devices thin (the iPod nano went so far that the limit to making it thinner was the headphone jack). Every other iteration of… well every other Apple mobile product has gotten thinner as time went by so I do not see the new iPhone being an exception.

iPhone 5 Mock Design (Photo Credit: Powerpoint to DVD)

NFC (Near Field Communication):

Near Field Communications is a funny one, I do think it would be a nice to have but given that no where in Australia really has the ability to conduct NFC payments (or any other kind of NFC) I don”t see it being very practical, and I think Apple know this. NFC seems to be popular in Japan, and it”s gaining in the US but I think they can wait another year before they implement this, so I don”t think this will actually be coming in the next iPhone.

NFC Example (Photo Credit: Tested)

Infrared Communication:

Now this is something I am almost 100% certain Apple will not put in the iPhone, it”s simply something I would like them to include. I want the ability as a developer to program infrared apps that allow easy sharing of data in massive amounts across the infrared spectrum, not to mention the ability for the iPhone to become a universal remote control so easily. I”m sure we”ve all been in the position where we can”t find the remote, imagine if we could just dial it?

An Apple iPhone Patent that involved Infrared (Photo Credit: Area Cellphone)

UHF:

UHF (Ultra High Frequency) communications is again, something I am sure Apple will not put into their iPhone, but it is never the less also on my wish list of features I would like the iPhone to have. It would be great to tune in to the local UHF comms band and see what people are saying, or even using it to talk to your friends without going through a cellular network when you are close by (say picking them up at their house). It would also be fun to experiment with using it as a way to distribute data. Having said that this technology is very primitive, and I”m sure if Apple wanted to enable some kind of peer to peer architecture on voice communication they could do it in a much more effective way than UHF.

New Antenna:

After antenna-gate (which I think was a load of crap) Apple aren”t going to risk succumbing to the same faults as their previous design. The antenna will either be housed internally or have some kind of coating on it to prevent bad reception due to human contact.

iPhone Nano:

This is something I hear discussed a lot, but to be frank I don”t think consumers are ready for a tiny iPhone just yet, it would be majorly stripped of features and represent a huge challenge when porting existing Apps to the small screen one of these would accommodate. If Apple do announce an iPhone Nano I will be very surprised.

iPhone 5 Nano Mockup (Photo Credit: Tek3d)

Apple Maps:

Apple have been busy cutting their ties with Google after the feud between iOS and Android, however they still rely on them for their Google Maps. Last year Apple acquired a couple of companies experienced in the GIS world, and I am sure they are busy at work trying to come up with something that could be a viable replacement for Google Maps on the iPhone. Whether they will have that complete by the time the iPhone 5 comes out is anybodies guess, but I am going to say this will not be in it.

Smart Cover:

I am sure Apple will have the smart cover as an accessory for the new iPhone, but I am also equally sure they won”t include it as a standard. If you think about it, when you reach into your pocket and full out the phone, you don”t want another action to use it (the swipe works quite nicely), if you had to lift off a cover every time you wanted to use it it would quickly become a nuisance. I know I sometimes slide my phone halfway out of my pocket to check the time, then slide it back in, a cover would make this whole process much more involved.

iPhone 5 Smart Cover Mockup (Photo Credit: GadgetSin)

Enhanced Voice Control:

Let”s face it, the voice control in the iPhone at the moment is not great by any stretch of the imagination, however I do wonder why people even talk about it at all. I don”t think having it would be all that great. Granted I would use it for maybe a week just so I could wallow in the space age awesomeness it provides me, but whether I could actually use it more practically than I would a touch screen is up for debate. I could see myself using it in the car, but then it would have to be listening and processing all the time which would quickly wear down its battery. From the rumours I have seen this will be included, but it”s not something I particularly care about.

iPhone Voice Control (Photo Credit: International Business Times)

Removable Battery:

I remember people complaining about the lack of removable battery in the iPhone when it first came out, and people still complain about it to this day (although their numbers are dwindling). I never quite understood why people wanted this, the iPhone batteries are actually pretty good in terms of longevity (especially since they get cycled very often), and even when I had a Nokia that had the option to go with additional batteries I never carried a spare around, I mean who does? Apple will not do this, I have noticed they want to make their devices as 1 piece as possible.

iPhone Removable Battery Mockup (Photo Credit: Jim Young)

MicroSD:

Apple seem to also have something against openings on their devices, trying to keep the number of ways to plug something into the device at a minimum. I doubt they will support MicroSD cards for this reason. It”s also important to remember that although iOS is built on Unix and does have a file system, it”s not really the same thing when Apps are sandboxed. I have no doubt that this will not be coming to the next iPhone.

iPhone MicroSD Mockup (Photo Credit: CallingAllGeeks)

Biometric Security:

Will the next iPhone feature biometric security rather than passcodes? It would certainly make Facebook hijacking much less prevalent, but I think this is too much of a giant step for Apple to make at this time. This is the kind of feature you add when you are almost out of ideas and want to impress the market, and I don”t think Apple is there yet. I would love for this to be a part of the next iPhone, but unfortunately I just don”t see it happening in this iteration.

Apple iPhone Biometric Security Patent (Photo Credit: Apple)

FaceTime over Cellular Networks:

Not so much a hardware change as it is a software change (but one that isn”t answered by the beta”s in iOS 5). I think this has a lot to do with Apple trying to woo the Cellular carriers, but in the end I think not having it over 3G simply shoots FaceTime in the foot when Skype can already accommodate this, on the iPhone no less. Having said that, I”ve never been a fan of FaceTime anyway, because in all honesty I don”t want to see other people”s faces when I talk to them on the phone, I enjoy relaxing my face muscles when I”m on the phone, and I don”t think anyone except your close relatives are going to appreciate this feature.

Facetime (Photo Credit: MacDaddyNews)

Flash Support:

People who complain about this just plain annoy me. I have been using the iPhone for 2-3 years now, and not once have I lamented the lack of Flash on the iPhone”s native browser. I mean honestly who cares? If a whole site is coded in Flash, it”s poorly thought out anyway, and if you are trying to game there are plenty of free alternatives in the iPhone store. On top of that I agree with Apple saying that Flash eats too much processing power (on the Mac it is enormously resource hungry), it isn”t open (I like the way this forces the adoption of HTML5 and newer standards on the web), and is quite frankly a security vulnerability (Adobe has had more security flaws in its software than Microsoft in recent times).

Apple vs Adobe (Photo Credit: PR)

Larger Screen:

People have wondered whether the next iPhone will include a larger screen, I don”t personally think it will. Instead, I think the iPhone will have a smaller body that will bring the screen all the way to the sides. If the iPhone does have a different resolution, it will throw off the coordinates of the current crop of apps creating some rather bizarre side effects not just mine but many other developers apps.

Having said all this, Apple have a habit of surprising us all. I bet it gives them great satisfaction to prove people like me wrong, and this is good because then I get a good dose of surprise in a new product, rather than the dull sensation that I have guessed it correctly all along.

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