Few things cause as much hype as Apple products: the company’s mantra of secrecy sees to it that expectation and speculation is rampant before any official releases.
And the rumoured iPhone 5 is no exception.
However, with less than a month to go now before the iPhone 5 is expected to be announced, what can we realistically expect to see?
Well, if anyone is after a new revelation in the smartphone market, be prepared to be disappointed. As with the iPhone 4S, the next generation iPhone - if there really is one - is going to continue the theme of “evolution”, not “revolution”.
The short version is that physically, the iPhone 5 will be slightly taller and slightly thinner than the current iPhone.
Additionally, it’ll have the headphone jack in a different place, and a new smaller connector plug that is going to annoy the hell out of anyone with an existing dock.
The main selling point, however, will likely to be improved user experience. This has always been Apple’s focus, and this is unlikely to change under Tim Cook’s direction. And it’s likely to be centred on improvements to the latest operating system release: iOS 6.
Expected features of the iPhone 5
The rumour mill to date is unlikely to be either fully accurate or comprehensive in terms of what an iPhone 5 will deliver. After all, we were all expecting an “iPhone 5″ branded release this time last year.
This is despite a number of supposed leaks from hardware manufacturers in Asia.
However, these are the points currently being roundly agreed upon:
1. Larger display area
The iPhone 5 will be taller, by about a centimetre. Additionally, it will have a screen that is closer to the edge of the casing. The result is a significantly larger display for your money.
2. The thinnest smartphone on the market
If reports on the new iPhone 5′s dimensions are anything to go by, it’ll measure somewhere in the region of 58.47mm x 123.83mm x 7.6mm. This will be 2mm thinner than the current iPhone 4S, and 1mm thinner than Samsung’s Galaxy SIII.
If true, it’ll be quite a coup for the marketing department, if it can proclaim Apple has the thinnest and lightest smartphone on the market, therefore inferring innovation.
3. NFC support
We expected support for NFC (Near Field Communication technology) on the iPhone 4S - therefore enabling the iPhone to function as an electronic wallet.
The rumour refuses to die that Apple will implement this in the next generation iPhone.
4. Improved video
One area where Apple tend to get caught out are the camera specifications. Your older 5MP iPhone may take photos as good if not better quality than on a HTC boasting a 8MP camera - but it still sounds wrong.
The iPhone 4S announced an improved camera, but there may be room to improve HD video recording specifically.
5. Improved battery life
Part of the rumoured iPhone 5 design changes include specific allowance for a slightly larger battery. While Apple devices are definitely in the strongest end when it comes to battery life, faster processors take up more power. So the battery here is expected to improve in line with a new improved quad processor.
6. 4G/LTE support
We saw LTE support rolled out on the latest iPad - unfortunately, targeted squarely at the US market. Everythingeverywhere is still looking for a limited 4G roll-out this autumn, though whether any LTE support specs on a new iPhone will make a difference to British users remains to be seen.
We know Steve Jobs was concerned about how this would drain the battery - but as we’ve already seen, the iPhone 5 is rumoured to be bigger in part to take a larger battery.
7. New connector and jack location
Part of the new design changes involve a migration of the headphone jack from one end to the other - but perhaps more importantly, the strongest rumours are of a new 8-pin plug being introduced across the Apple product range.
Perhaps intended to create a more efficient experience, a lot of people are unlikely to be happy with this as it means existing docking peripherals will not work, as the iPhone 5 will be the wrong shape, with the wrong connection, for use.
8. iOS6: Smoother user experience
Simple user experience improvements to the apps store are expected. For example, not having to login just to download a free app and use it is an obvious one. However, while there have been leaks about hardware specifications, Apple has any software surprises firmly under wraps.
The fact that iOS6 is expected to be launched in conjunction with a refreshed iPhone5 means that we can expect some user-experience improvements - some of which may quite surprise us.
9. September 12th
Initial speculation suggested a launch date in October - however, mumbles from manufacturers has been interpreted as meaning that Apple intend to announce the iPhone 5 mid-September, most likely around September 12th. Pre-orders would go live, but here in the UK we’re not likely to see any new handset on our shores until at least October.
10. Secret sauce
Most rumours to date have focused on hardware - as we’ve mentioned above, though, it will be the iPhone’s integration with new iOS 6 features that will really make it stand out.
Claiming to be the thinnest and lightest smartphone on earth would be a great advertising slogan, but it’s how iOS features evolve with the new iPhone 5 that will be the key focus.
However, don’t be surprised if Apple try and pull a few tricks out of the bag to deflate competitors.
While Android phones have really advanced over the past year, they still suffer from a fragmented ecosystem, despite attempts to otherwise order it.
With Google and Microsoft trying to follow Apple’s lead in the Cloud, this is one area Apple could really through the gauntlet down - not least with far more free space to backup with.
In the meantime, if you feel you absolutely must see what an iPhone 5 might look like, here’s one of the teasers that has recently gone viral: