Even though the iPhone 4S has been out for only about five months, many people are already looking ahead toward the next version. This might (or might not) be a radical change from the current one.
There has been no dearth of rumors and speculation about this upcoming device. Possibly the main reason for this is because the iPhone 4S was not a huge change from its immediate predecessor, so many iPhone 4 users did not feel a strong need to upgrade. This group is now looking ahead toward the sixth-generation phone from Apple to see whether it will be what they have been waiting for.
What to Expect
One aspect of the iPhone 5 that there's little room for doubt about is that it will include 4G LTE, giving it a cellular-wireless data connection significantly faster than any earlier version. There have been numerous reports to support this, but the best evidence is a statement from Verizon that every smartphone it introduces this year will have LTE, and this carrier will certainly offer the next handset from Apple. This would bring the iPhone into parity with many models running the rival Android OS, which have had this 4G technology since last year.
Apple's next smartphone is expected to run a quad-core processor, likely to be the Apple A6 chip. This would give it better performance for many tasks, and, again, would bring Apple into parity with Android. The iPhone 5 almost certainly won't have the A5X processor that debuted on the new iPad earlier this month. This CPU is no faster than the A5 CPU in Apple's current smartphone, but it adds a quad-core graphical processing unit for that tablet's large, high-resolution screen.
T-Mobile has pointed out that virtually all the wireless chips available today come with built-in support for its uncommon 4G frequencies, raising the possibility that Apple could add a fourth U.S. carrier to its list of partners. With the technology problem out of the way, the only hurdle would be these two companies coming to a business agreement, and T-Mobile is definitely interested.
The smartphone might not be called the iPhone 5. The third-generation iPad is called simply "iPad", and if Apple continues this practice its next smartphone will be just "iPhone".
A Mystery Wrapped in a Conundrum
Aside from these, however, there is contradictory evidence about every other aspect of this device. A topic of hot debate is whether it will have a larger display or not. An unconfirmed report that the iPhone 5 will have a 4.6 inch screen made headlines last week, but this was followed by a contrary report that indicated that Apple intends to stick with the 3.5-inch display that has been in all its previous models.
Some are predicting the iPhone 5 will have a bigger screen because of competitive pressure. Virtually all Android smartphones have displays larger than 3.5-inches, with some approaching 5 inches.
A related issue is the overall size of the handset. A significantly larger display would require a bigger device, though Apple would likely keep it thin. The issue with this is it goes against Steve Jobs' original vision for the iPhone as an easily-pocketable device. On the other hand, LTE can be a drain on the battery life, and a larger handset would have room for a bigger battery.
Another aspect that has been the topic of contradictory reports is the release date -- some are saying this product will be out this summer, others that it won't be introduced until the fall. From the original iPhone in 2007 until the iPhone 4, every Apple smartphone came out in the summer. That schedule was changed last year, however, as the current model debuted last October. At this point, there has been no definitive answer to what the schedule will be this time.
A Difficult Proposition
Trying to predict what Apple is going to do based on rumors is not an easy job. A notable success came in 2010, when pictures if the iPhone 4 leaked out months before it was released. On the other hand, last year there were numerous reports that Apple planned to introduce a smartphone with a bigger screen in the fall -- obviously, this didn't happen.
So far this year there have been no amazing leaks revealing the design and features of the iPhone 5. Instead, Contradictory reports haver left potential customers and experts scratching their heads.
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