The iPhone 5 is imminent. Apple’s shipping times on the iPhone 4 are already slipping, and according to Cult of Mac’s own release timeline, it’ll be announced as early as September 21st and ship on October 7th.
That gives us a pretty good idea when the iPhone 5 will be released, but that still leaves a lot of questions. How fast will the iPhone 5 be? Will the iPhone 5 support 4G and/or LTE speeds? Will the iPhone 5 have a bigger display?How much storage will the iPhone 5 have? Will the iPhone 5 be a world phone? Will the iPhone 5 have a capacitive home button? And so on.
We think we know. Here’s our best guess based on the rumors so far and what Apple has done in the past exactly what the iPhone 5 will look like once it is released.
Here’s what we think the iPhone 5 will look like, according to current evidence. The iPhone 5 will 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. It will have a thinner but wider design, a larger display and may have a capacitive home button.
Here’s our rationale:
It’s pretty easy to predict that the iPhone 5 will boast an A5 system-on-chip, just like the iPad 2. Not only did Apple use the A5’s predecessor, the A4, in the iPhone 4 after debuting it in the first-gen iPad, but according to one source, Apple won’t have the A6 ready until 2Q 2012… or the release of the iPad 3.
So don’t expect the iPhone 5 to have a beefier processor than the iPad 2. Instead, the iPhone 5 will boast a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU paired with a NEON SIMD accelerator and a dual core PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU, clocked at 1GHz.
There have been no indications of how much RAM the iPhone 5 will have, but here’s a few things to keep in mind.
When the iPhone 4 debuted, it had double the RAM of the iPad… and that memory was faster too. If history’s a guide, then, Apple might double the RAM of the iPhone 4 when they release the iPhone 5. That’s a gig of RAM.
Is there any point in cramming that much RAM into a smartphone, though? Well, it can’t hurt: it keeps everything speedy and it future proofs the device against future software updates. Apple needs to ask themselves not only if the iPhone 5 will be powerful enough to run iOS 5, but if it’ll be powerful enough to run iOS 9 in a few years.
Finally, it’s worth keeping mind that some of Apple’s high-end Android competitors are already shipping devices with 1GB of RAM.
The iPhone 5 is Apple’s flagship product, so we think it likely they’ll follow the iPhone 4’s lead and double the RAM this generation. It’s worth noting, though, that Bloomberg only thinks 512MB of DDR2 RAM is likely.
The camera is one of the least mysterious specs of the iPhone 5: it will boast an 8MP camera, as tipped as early as February. Not only do most of the best Android phones already boast 8MP sensors, but a Flickr image featuring a sushi lunch the other day and supposedly taken with an iPhone 5 seems to confirm the higher-res camera. We’d consider 8 megapixels a lock.
3G or 4G?
Let’s get this out of the way. No, the iPhone 5 won’t have LTE.
The reasons are all pretty straightforward. For one thing, Apple is pretty cautious when it comes to adopting new, out-of-house technologies. For example, despite the fact that 3G was pretty much ubiquitous even when the original iPhone was released, it shipped with only EDGE, leaving faster speeds to the next year’s upgrade, the iPhone 3G. Or look at how Apple keeps on delaying the adoption of USB 3 in Macs, favoring their own in-house Thunderbolt technology instead.
The message is clear: Apple is skittish about unproven outside technologies that they haven’t had a direct hand in baking.
But let’s say that wasn’t true. As it stands now, Apple’s biggest carrier partner — AT&T — only has LTE in a few cities, and won’t have anything even coming close to nationwide LTE rollout until 2012. Verizon’s got a better LTE presence… but far, far fewer iPhone customers are on Verizon.
So even if Apple were to release an LTE iPhone, most of their customers would have to fall back on 3G anyway, because the infrastructure just isn’t in place for most customers. And considering Apple’s openly stated reservations about existing 4G chips — namely, their effect on battery life, which Cupertino is notoriously conservative about — Apple’s going to put off rolling out an LTE iPhone until the iPhone 6, at least.
But what about that other “4G” technology, HSPA+? Sure, it’s just supercharged 3G, but could Apple release an iPhone 5 that supports that technology?
We think it’s doubtful, not only because HSPA+ is a stop gap solution — the kind of thing that Apple hates — but it wouldn’t work on Verizon, Apple’s second biggest American carrier partner.
No, expect Apple to be conservative here. They won’t adopt any 4G technology — HSPA+ or LTE — until the iPhone 6 at minimum. If Apple’s going to dip their toe into the 4G spectrum at all, they’ll start with the iPad.
The iPhone 5 is a world phone, capable of running on both GSM networks (like AT&T and T-Mobile) and CDMA networks (like Sprint and Verizon) simultaneously.
How do we know? For one, the Verizon iPhone 4 already boasts a Qualcomm Gobi chip, which is capable of connecting to both CDMA and GSM networks.
Second? Verizon’s CFO confirmed as early as April that the next iPhone would be a world phone.
That means that with your next iPhone, you should be able to wait out your two-year contract at, say, Verizon, then shift it on over to AT&T rather painlessly.