'Fierce competition' drives Apple's iPhone 6 changes
iPhone 5 in 2011: 'slight modifications"
If you're hoping that the iPhone 5 will be a thoroughly redesigned handset, one analyst says to chill: the next iPhone will make only "slight modifications" to the iPhone 4 when it ships in the fourth quarter of this year. For bigger changes, you'll have to wait for 2012's iPhone 6.
AppleInsider reported on Monday that Ming-Chi Kuo of Concord Securities has heard from his "supply sources" that the iPhone 5 will begin mass production in September, and that it would be equipped with an A5 processor as is in the iPad 2, an eight-megapixel camera, and a dual-mode baseband chip. Otherwise, it'll have the look-and-feel of Apple's most popular handset ever, the iPhone 4.
The iPhone 5's Qualcomm baseband chip would enable the same electronics to support both GSM and CDMA wireless services – which, in the US, would mean both AT&T and Verizon – although antenna design would almost certainly need to be modified for each type of service, as are the antennas in the GSM and CDMA iPhone 4s.
Regarding that rumored eight-megapixel camera, SoftPedia ups the ante to the OV12825 12.6 megapixel sensor just announced by OmniVision (warning: PDF), which would provide 4,224-by-3,000 pixel resolution for stills, and 1,080p 60-frame-per-second video. SoftPedia, however, admits that its source is "unsupported chatter".
Concord Securities' Kuo also told his clients that the recent Japanese earthquake has constrained component supplies to such an extent that fanbois shouldn't expect an upgraded iPod touch to appear at the same time as the iPhone 5, a release pairing that has become Cupertino's tradition.
Kuo also said that the iPhone 5 would be announced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, which will take place June 6-10 in San Francisco, California. From where we sit, however, that seems unlikely. The iPhone 4 is still selling quite well, and to undercut it by announcing that an improved model will appear in a mere matter of months would seem unlikely.
After all, Jobs & Co. are undoubtely quite aware of the Osborne Effect, so named after a premature prerelease announcement of an upgraded model helped to kill off the company that created the world's first mass-market portable PC.
Kuo also said that a much-improved and newly designed iPhone 6 would appear in the first half of 2012. This earlier-than-usual release date will be due, according to Kuo, to "fierce competition" with Android-based phones – which, by the way, the market-watchers at Gartner said on Monday would power a smidgen under half of all smartphones by the end of next year.
Of course, all of this speculation is just that: speculation. That said, Kuo's prognostications have been correct in the past: as AppleInsider correctly points out, he was right when he said that the iPad 2 would use the same cheesy cameras as the iPod touch, and not the improved ones in the iPhone 4.
Kuo also predicted that the ever-elusive white iPhone 4 will appear this month. In the next dozen days we'll learn whether that prediction was correct, and thus learn a bit more about the quality of his sources and the strength of his iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 predictions. ®
There's nothing wrong with the antenna
If you really deserved an iPhone, you'd imagine a better and more streamlined reality in which the antenna actually does work.
If it doesn't work, it's the user's fault for holding it wrong, and for not believing hard enough in better living through electromagnetic mind control.
Yet another iphone release
Matching a 5mm lens with a 12MP CMOS is like fitting a Ferrari engine to a Vespa. Although probably less spectacular, now I think about it.
The big question is...
How much more technology can you *usefully* stuff into a mobile phone? Let's take each bit in turn:
1) Comms. 3G, Wifi, Bluetooth: it's all already there. Sure, the next wave of cellular tech is incoming (i.e. 4G) but 3G is more than fast enough for most people - you can download maps, stream audio/video and upload photos of your pet to youtube, all pretty much in realtime.
2) CPU: 1GHz dual-core processors are now becoming the norm, which should be more than enough to run most apps, barring some edge cases such as Apple's GarageBand or high-end games.
3) Memory: Most handsets now come with 512mb RAM (and some high-end android phones have 768mb); given that the level of multitasking you can do is generally limited by the form-factor, do you need more?
4) GPU: Most high-end handsets are using a PowerVR SGX535 (or Qualcomm equivalent): this part is DX10.1 compatible and drives Intel's GMA 500 PC chipset. This may not be quite up to the level of a high-end Nvidia/AMD GPU, but it's more than enough for the majority of games, especially considering the small screen - both Epic and iD have managed to get high-end visuals up and running on the iPhone.
5) Display: handset displays are topping out at around 4" and a 1024*640 resolution (or thereabouts). The visual benefits from boosting the screen resolution will be minimal. The only other potential upgrade is to go "3D", but it's debatable how useful this is - there's all sorts of ergonomic issues (e.g. the 3DS doesn't require glasses, but does need to be held at a specific distance/angle - and a lot of people have reported issues with headaches, etc)
6) Battery life: this definitely needs to be improved - my Desire HD generally lasts about 1.5 days inbetween charges, as I use it as an ebook reader on the train. But cramming more powerful tech into a handset isn't going to improve this...
7) Form factor: Apple are obsessed with their one-button setup and the majority of Android phones are stamped out of the "PDA with four buttons at the bottom" mould. And while most Android handsets could maybe have a bit of weight trimmed off here and there, I think Apple's gone as far as physically possible on that front.
8) Camera: boosting the resolution isn't particularly useful, given that the sensor size remains the same (i.e. more noise/poorer quality picture). You could slap two cameras onto the back to take 3D pictures, but see point 5) - and camera manufacturers have already figured out a "pan and scan" way to generate 3D images in software. Improving the flash would be nice, though...
All told, I'm struggling to think of useful new features.
Oh, and won't someone think of the developers? The Android market is bad enough - you get everything from 300mhz Chinese ePads to multi-core high-end handsets. But Apple is starting to go that way as well: between the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, there's somewhere in the region of 9 distinct CPU/GPU/Ram/Display combinations. Admittedly, it's probably safe to ignore everything pre-3rd gen, but that still leaves the iPhone 3GS/4, the iPad/iPad2, and the iPod Touch 3/4...
Enough of this megapixel willy waving! 5mp is enough!
On a sensor the size of hanging chad, squeezing 12mp onto it is insanity! The more photo-sites you cram into that little space, the more photons you need to "see" the image. Sure technology is improving, and sensitivity is increasing, but not that fast! My *real* DSLR with it's comparatively huge sensor is *only* 12 megapixels, and even with an f/1.4 lens it can get challenging in low light, but at least I have the option of deploying a real big flash.
Phone cameras are fine in sunlight, but as soon as night falls, or people move inside, the little LED flashes just can't provide enough illumination to maintain a fast enough shutter speed, or keep the amplification applied to the sensor (which increases the noise) to a reasonable level.
Can we look forward to some nice clear and stable "posted from my iphone" images on facebook please? Because at the moment most of the ones taken at night look as blurred and drunk as most of the people in the picture!