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'Fierce competition' drives Apple's iPhone 6 changes

iPhone 5 in 2011: 'slight modifications"

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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. ®

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