I’m constantly asked about the iPhone 5. When is it coming out? Will it be worth it? What will be new? Will it come in white? Etc. And like a true Apple devotee, I keep up on the rumor and chatter about what is expected as well. Currently, there are quite a few rumors, some contradicting themselves. So here I want to explain my prediction for what we will see from Apple this fall. Understand I am a nobody in the Apple universe, just a fan who owns a small company supporting their product. I have no sources, ins, etc. The following is purely my own conjecture.
The iPhone 5 …
First, I am pretty firmly in the camp the believe the iPhone 5 will have essentially the same form factor as the iPhone 4 (much like the iPhone 3GS was externally the same as the 3G). Its a good design, and even if you feel the back shouldn’t be glass, changing that wouldn’t require a physical redesign. It’s fairly obvious that it will get the A5 processor from the iPad 2, as well as its increased GPU, though RAM could conceivable be bumped to 1GB (I don’t think it will though, personally). I also think it will move to an 8MP camera (most likely made by Sony, which disappoints me). So my only real internal debate is how much storage will it have. A few months ago, I would have said 32GB and 64GB, but when iCloud was announced, I was fairly certain it might stick to its current 16GB and 32GB. My present thought is the iPhone 5 will drop 16GB and come in only 32GB, (See my next paragraph for why I think this). The price will be the same as the 16GB iPhone 4 is today, but I think we will see a widening of carrier options. It will be one phone SKU, but it work on Verizon and AT&T, but not 4G (I predict this to be 2012, or iPhone 6). With AT&T’s inevitable takeover of T-Mo, the iPhone 5 will probably include its needed frequencies as well. This leaves Sprint, which has publicly said it wants the device a few times. This could be the year, and I personally think it will happen. Oh, and yes, I think it will come out in white as well as black.
And they came in pairs….
So why do I think we might see solely a 32GB iPhone 5? Because I think we are going to see two phones introduced, not one. I don’t think a manufacturing issue help up the iPhone’s launch from being this past June, I think it was on purpose: Apple is going to unify the iPod and iPhone lines.
With iCloud, our apps, music and TV shows (and soon movies I’m sure) are all instantly accessible for streaming or downloading. All you need is an internet connection, which all current Apple devices have (WiFi). While WiFi is popular, it isn’t everywhere. Currently, the only 3G enabled devices are the iPhone and the iPad. Why doesn’t the iPod touch have it? Even if its not to be a “phone” per se, adding 3G to the iPod touch makes a lot of sense: it would give feature parity to developers, it would open up its value for parents and college students, etc.
The other sign pointing to this is the world market. Here in the US, Pre-Paid phones are rather looked down upon, however in lots of other countries, pre-paid is the norm. In fact, while Apple may have 30-50% of the US Smartphone market, depending what poll you are reading, they have only a few percentage points of the worldwide phone market. The iPhone 4/5 is expensive in most markets left for Apple to enter. In other words, its a perfect time to reach out and infiltrate some untapped market.
So how will they do it? I’ve been ruminating about this over and over in my head for months, but here’s how I see it going down: iPhone 5 is released with the above-mentioned specs. The iPod line is introduced, including iPod nano updates, perhaps a shuffle update. The classic will either continue on or be killed, but no updates to it. Then we get to the iPod touch. It’s introduced with a new form factor, most likely also getting the A5 processor, as well as a camera boost (5MP most likely, with flash). I suspect the storage sizes will change to 16GB/32GB/64GB (8GB will be ditched) Applause all around. Then, one more thing. iPod gains a 3G option. It’ll cost $100 more, and be useable with the iPad data plans, or a new voice/data pre-paid plan with a small allotment of minutes.
One more thing …
I don’t expect this to be announced at the upcoming press event, but I think the 3GS is going to continue to be sold, but only overseas in specific markets (China, I’m looking at you). Its more rugged than the iPhone 4 and its lower end hardware enables Apple to sell them extremely cheaply, gaining them a foothold in markets that they have to be cheaper to get into. Its the only reason I can think of for the 3GS to be getting iOS 5.