On Wednesday September 12, Apple will hold an event that everyone expects will be the announcement of a new iPhone.
The next iPhone will be slimmer, will use a new smaller dock connector, and will probably be the first to depart from the 3.5” screen used since the original iPhone. Smartphones today tend to have larger screens – the better to view video, and the better to provide underlying real estate for 4G carrier network chip-sets. And more battery. A 4” screen in a 16x9 pixel aspect ratio will lend itself well to watching content formatted for HDTV.
This iPhone will also be the first fully 4G iPhone with LTE capability.
Some of the additional speculation has been around a new processor (A5X or A6?) and whether or not the new iPhone would include Near Field Communication (NFC) hardware. I think the final decision on both will be driven by power and battery considerations. For user satisfaction, having the fastest processor is not as important as maximizing battery life. NFC hardware would likely enable some new interactive applications and some new-age commerce possibilities, and is likely to be very important to Apple’s future plans for the iPhone’s role in commerce (consider the iOS 6 Passbook application, and what it might grow into over time). But without much merchant infrastructure in place today to support NFC, I think Apple could decide to hold off another year, saving cost, power and battery. Passbook can handle coupons, boarding passes and theater tickets today, and direct financial transactions (such as credit sales) in the future once more merchants are ready and on-board. The iPhone that gets released a year from now, in 2013, could add the NFC hardware capabilities to leverage that software.
I wouldn’t complain if we saw A6 and NFC now, of course!
Though names like “iPhone 4G” or “4GS” or even “the new iPhone” (really?) have gotten some web-rumor discussion, a large shadow on the invitation in the shape of a “5” has most people speculating that the new phone will be called the iPhone 5.
Some have speculated that we’ll also hear about an iPod Touch in the same 4” slim form-factor, as well as a small-form iPad to compete with the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Google Nexus 7. I think both of those product announcements are likely, but will take place a month later in October. Why should the iPhone have to share the stage?
Summarizing my prediction: iPhone 5, new/smaller dock connector, 4G LTE, 16G/32G/64G models, 4” screen 16x9 aspect ratio, A5X processor, no NFC hardware, availability later in September.
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