In fact, all we really have to go by on what the next iPhone will look like is the evidence provided by supply chain checks, the internal evidence of the developer iOS 5 SDK and common sense.
Earlier this month, we predicted that the next iPhone would boast a dual-core A5 SoC, 1GB of DDR2 RAM, an 8 megapixel camera and up to 64GB of storage. It will work on both GSM and CDMA networks, but be limited to 3G speeds. That’s the same conclusion being echoed by 9to5Mac this morning in an excellent post by Mark Gurman.
We didn’t use rocket science to come to these conclusions: most of them are just common sense updates that Apple needs to make to keep the iPhone competitive in the market, coupled with a few improvements that are forecast by supply chain checks.
A notable sentence from Gurman’s post, however, is this one: “Because a report claimed that Apple is stuffing next-generation guts into iPhone 4 casings to throw off leaks, we don’t want to affirm that the new iPhone retains the iPhone 4 design. In addition, a new design has been rumored based on recent “iPhone 5″ case leaks.”
In other words, while he’s got a pretty good idea of what the next iPhone will be, he has no idea what it will actually look like. Same here!
The fact that we don’t have a clue what the next iPhone looks like is surprising mostly because for the last few years, leaked Asian case designs have been the surest way to get an idea of a new Apple product’s design. For example, a month and a half before the iPad 2 debuted, we knew it had a slimmer, tapered design, and all the leaked cases agreed on the dimensions of the next iPad.
What about the case leaks ahead of the 2011 iPhone? Absolute chaos. You’ve got cases confirming a wider, thinner device with a larger screen and an elongated home button. You’ve got cases that suggest the next iPhone won’t have a new design at all. And then you’ve got a respected American case designer like Otterbox saying that they have no frickin’ idea what Apple’s going to release, or what it’ll be called.
The reason this confusion amongst case makers is so amazing is that it’s just so easy for a Chinese case maker to get the dimensions of the next iPhone by just hanging out in a bar outside of Shenzhen and bribing a Foxconn assembly line worker. In fact, that’s exactly how we’ve gotten the dimensions of Apple’s upcoming iPods, iPhones and iPads ahead of their official debut time and again over the past few years: the dimensions of an Apple device being built are the easiest thing to leak, since all you need to do is memorize a few numbers. In the past, workers will leak those numbers to local case makers, and over time, the “leaked” case designs will start to agree with each other, until there’s finally a consensus on what the next device will look like.
So we’re a week away from the 2011 iPhone’s debut, and for the first time in years, Apple has managed to plug up all its leaks. Despite the fact that Apple lost an iPhone 5 prototype, they’ve managed to keep the actual details of the device secret. Apple has also managed to weld a huge titanium plate over the supply chain holes in their iron curtain of secrecy. In fact, Apple’s perfected secrecy around the next iPhone to such an extent that they’ve even managed to prevent low-paid Foxconn assembly line workers from leaking the dimensions of the device to their buddies.
Incredible. We don’t know how Apple has done it, but even though Cult of Mac lives by the breath of Apple rumors and leaks, we’ve just got to applaud Apple on a game exquisitely played: well done.
For the first time in recent memory, even us seasoned Apple journos are just fans again, as breathless and excited about what awaits us next week as a kid anticipating the mysteries of Christmas morning. Every year, we’ve combed the house, looking for where Papa Steve has hidden the presents until we eventually found them, but this year, he bested us. Instead, on October 4th, we’ll tear open the wrapping on a new Apple device not already knowing exactly what’s inside, or having to feign surprise… something that hasn’t happened for a long time.
It’s a wonderful feeling. We can’t wait to see what Apple has in store for us.