The farther into 2011 we get, the closer we come to a new version of the Apple iPhone. Apple has released a new iPhone each year like clockwork — so what can we expect to see in the iPhone 5?
As it always is with rumors, the iPhone 5 has been associated with just about every new technology out there. Here are the things that seem most likely to actually happen:
Summer release date
This is a no brainer because Apple has been quite consistent in releasing a new iPhone around June or July of each year. You can expect with reasonable certainty that Apple will do the same with the iPhone 5 in 2011.
Faster, multi-Core processor
One of the most widely reported and sourced rumors is that Apple is manufacturing a successor to the A4 processor in the iPhone 4 and iPad. The A5 processor will be based on a Cortex A9 design and feature multiple cores. That would mean significant increases in performance and possibly battery life. It would also keep Apple securely in the technology curve as several other manufacturers are introducing dual-core processors into Android smartphones.
Integrated graphics upgrade
Along with a newer, faster processor, the iPhone 5 is rumored to have an upgraded integrated graphics and video processor (also referred to as IGPU). With Apple's continuing emphasis on media, especially video and apps, this makes sense because a new graphics processor would boost the iPhone 5's media capabilities. That means better video, game graphics and possibly even HDMI-out to TVs. Apple's OpenCL technology would also be able to use the IGPU to do additional tasks when idle.
NFC technology makes iPhone your iWallet
Near-field communication technology would make it possible to pay for goods and services by simply waving your iPhone 5 over a terminal, no cards or checks needed. Multiple sources have cited engineers working on NFC technology for the iPhone 5. Rumors even indicate that iTunes would expand to manage your debit or credit accounts, basically making the iPhone 5 a futuristic wallet.
New antenna, bye-bye deathgrip
Apple took a beating in the Antennagate scandal following the release of the iPhone 4. Holding the iPhone a certain way, dubbed the "deathgrip," would drastically reduce the signal. It's no surprise that Apple is rumored to be changing the antenna design, possibly moving it behind the Apple logo on back, in order to alleviate the problem.
As with each iteration of the iPhone, the iPhone 5 specs will likely get a refresh. Aside from the processors mentioned above, this likely means a little more memory, more storage and possibly a slight increase in screen size (evidence points to a 3.7-inch screen instead of 3.5).
Those are the rumors that are either backed up by multiple sources or obvious from Apple's iPhone record. The following are several other rumors that are much less reliable, for one reason or another.
Better camera, 1080p video recording
This one isn't unbelievable, but there is little evidence to back this up. The 5 megapixel, 720p video recording rear camera is already pretty impressive, and Apple may see no reason to update it on this version cycle. However, the upgraded graphics processor could certainly handle 1080p video recording, and 8 megapixel 1080p cameras are the standard for new smartphones.
LTE 4G speeds
4G is all the rage, so it seems like an obvious move for Apple, right? They certainly wouldn't want to be left behind when almost every other manufacturer is aiming to put out a 4G phone soon, would they? Well, it seems like an obvious choice, but several reliable sources have said that Apple isn't working on LTE compatibility. Instead, the company is said to be including a dual GSM/CMDA chip (3G technology) from Qualcomm for the iPhone 5. This wouldn't be the first time Apple decided to hold back, either. The original iPhone was only able to download data at 2G, or EDGE, speeds even though AT&T already had a 3G network in place.
A cheaper iPhone?
Several outlets have breathlessly reported on backroom deals Apple has made that would lead to a cheaper iPhone. However, that seems pretty unlikely. The new hardware isn't going to be that much cheaper, if it is at all, and Apple already has a pretty stable price point for the iPhone. What's more, carriers already heavily subsidize the iPhone, so even if its retail price dropped, carriers wouldn't necessarily lower the subsidized price, too.
Verizon and AT&T Simultaneously?
Just because Verizon finally got access to the iPhone 4 doesn't mean they have rights to the iPhone 5. AT&T had a longstanding exclusive deal with Apple, and it's quite possible they might be able to negotiate another exclusivity period for the iPhone 5, even if it's only a few months to give AT&T a head start. On the other hand, Verizon will be actively lobbying for the same opportunity, and it's in Apple's best interest to have the iPhone on as many networks as possible.
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