Now that the new iPad, with its Retina Display, has been introduced, the rumor mill will likely return full churn soon to the iPhone, more so as we get closer to its release, likely in the fall of 2012. This next iPhone is rumored to be a major revamp that was supposedly Steve Jobs’ last project, which he spent most of his last working energy on from beginning concept to final design.
There have already been a few rumors for the iPhone 5, or 6, or whatever you want to call it. Let’s look at a few of them.
Amidst the rumors leading up to the iPhone 4S last year, the Wall Street Journal, usually a pretty good source for Apple rumors, dropped this little nugget about the 2012 iPhone that escaped many people’s notice:
People briefed on Apple’s plans said the company is planning a major iPhone revamp then, with one person saying the company has been experimenting with features such as a new way of charging the phone [ed. emphasis mine].
While “a new way of charging the phone” is pretty vague, one likely possibility is wireless charging. Wireless charging isn’t new, and the iPhone wouldn’t even be the first smartphone with wireless charging. The Palm Pre, released in 2009, had the feature built in and could charge wirelessly simply by placing it on a charging dock called the Touchstone Charger. There are also several third-party wireless charging accessories for the iPhone that allow you to charge the device by laying it on a charging mat.
Apple may have something similar in mind, only better. Website Physorg reported on a 2011 Apple patent for charging with no charging mat or physical contact needed. The patent detailed a technology callled wireless near field magnetic resonance (NFMR) power transmission that could charge an iPhone simply by placing it within a meter of, say, an iMac or charging station. Along with wireless syncing and over-the-air updates that were introduced with iOS 5, the next iPhone could truly break the cord.
With the introduction of LTE into the new iPad, the superfast “4G” wireless technology is likely destined for the iPhone soon as well. However, doubts remain that it will be included in the next iPhone, as battery performance in current LTE smartphones is currently not good enough for the iPhone. However, Apple is always on the cutting edge, and the latest rumors are that Apple is looking at the Qualcomm MDM9615 LTE chip that includes several improvements in lower power consumption. That along with other improvements, such as a lower-power CPU, may allow Apple to include LTE.
Faster A6 Chip
A faster chip seems like something you can always count on with a new Apple device. The iPhone 4 had the A4. The iPhone 4S sports the A5, and the iPad 3 got the A5X along with a tricked-out graphics processor. The next iPhone? The A6 processor built with cutting-edge 28-nanometer manufacturing process.
Rumors of the A6 go back to August of last year, when the Taiwan Economic Times reported that Apple and Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC hard started a trial run of the A6 chip using a new 28-nanometer manufacturing process for testing purposes.
The new manufacturing technologies used to create the A6 will allow for the chip to use less power (fitting in nicely with the LTE rumor above) as well as be cheaper to manufacture thanks to use of less material.
The rumors leading up to iPhone 4S had most of us expecting a “tear-dropped” shaped phone that was ultra-slim and would sit on a table at a slight angle. There were website mock-ups and CAD diagrams for “iPhone 5″ cases. Some Chinese manufactures even built thousands of iPhone 5 cases based on these blueprints.
Then the iPhone 4S was released and it looked exactly like the previous iPhone 4. Some felt let down, others just laughed at those who took the rumors too seriously.
But is possible that those rumormongers were right all along? Could it be that the next iPhone will indeed have a “teardrop” shape? The Wall Street Journal, after all, did say a “major revamp” was in store for this version of the iPhone, and a new look does seem to fit a pattern Apple has established of changing the iPhone’s look every two years. Maybe those Chinese case manufacturers shouldn’t throw away their cases quite yet.
Rumors of the iPhone’s screen growing from 3.5 inches to 4 inches (measured diagonally) are left over from last year’s rumor mill. As the above photo shows, Apple would not have to grow the size of the iPhone to include a 4-inch screen, it would just have to remove the bezel. And a bezel is not as important for iPhone as it is with the iPad, where a two-handed grip is often required and the bezel prevents fingers from blocking the screen.
More recent rumors say Apple has a 4.6-inch screen in mind for the next iPhone, but most people think that’s somewhat a ridiculous size for a phone, myself included.
A New Name?
With the recent iPad 3 not actually being called the iPad 3, it’s possible Apple will abandon the numbering system for the iPhone as well, in other words, simply calling it the new iPhone. But let’s say Apple does keep the numbering system. What should the next iPhone be called? Since the last one was called iPhone 4S, many people think it should be called the iPhone 5. But in reality, it will be the 6th-generation iPhone (1st-gen iPhone, 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S), so officially it’s the iPhone 6, right?
Apple fans have come up with other names like iPhone Air, iPhone SJ, and iPhone+. Personally, I hope it’s the iPhone 6.
A Near Field Communication (NFC) chip would allow the iPhone to double as a sort of wireless credit card. Simply wave the iPhone near a cash register (or Coke machine) to pay. A rep from Mastercard seemed to have hinted recently that Apple was at least working on it.
A new smaller dock connector to replace the current 30-pin docking port would give Apple engineers room to stuff in more battery for that power-hungry LTE. Website iMore has heard whispers that Apple is working on it.
Gorilla Glass 2 is stronger and lighter, and to me it’s a no brainer that it’s headed to a future iPhone (the original Gorilla Glass is already used in the iPhone, made right here in the US of A).
No home button. There are rumors that Apple is working on removing the iPhone’s home button and replacing its functionality with new touch gestures. It’s unlikely, but Apple has added 4-finger gestures to the iPad that mimic some of the home buttons functionality. 4-finger gestures work better on larger screens, but still, the feature is a little wonky on the iPad.