The next iPhone: Everything we (don't) know

The rumour mills are buzzing with the idea that the next iPhone will be announced on September 10th. That may well be true, but don’t believe everything you read.
Admit it — you clicked on this article because it had “iPhone” in the title, right?
iPhone rumour stories are their own cottage industry, and one that’s intensely profitable for Apple. Admittedly, it is a company that plays its cards very close to its chest indeed, but at the same time, the hype that surrounds every Apple launch is a terribly effective form of essentially free PR. If the rumour sites dig up a nugget of truth, that builds hype for an eventual product. If they’re way off… well, it’s not like Apple said it, now is it?
I’ve never found a single site that’s had a perfect strike record in terms of actual rumours panning out, so you really should take everything you read online prior to an announcement with a massive grain of NaCl.
So with that out of the way, what’s in the current crop of stuff that we-don’t-quite-know?
Arguably the most interesting snippet is this idea that there will be two new iPhones; a top-tier model as has been the case for Apple releases for some time, along with a cheaper, more plastic “iPhone 5c” variant for the budget market.
The iPhone 5c is meant to replace the previous strategy where the “old” iPhone became the “budget” model, with some sites suggesting that Apple will cease production altogether of older iPhone lines. It makes me wonder how much stockpiling it’s planning to do of existing iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 lines to meet warranty obligations if that’s true.
The top end iPhone handset, meanwhile, is expected to have a slightly improved camera, possibly a Sharp IGZO display rather than the LCD Retina display of the current model and a fingerprint sensor for simple login access. That last bit is arguably the most interesting hardware innovation, but I’ve argued elsewhere that Smartphone hardware may well have peaked for now in terms of what can be done just with the hardware alone. Battery life gets tweaked a little, processors get a little faster, cameras improve and so on. Although in the case of cameras, Nokia may well have claimed the current high ground with the Lumia 1020, at least in raw power. When we hit flexible displays that fit a certain price and durability point is where I suspect we’ll see the next big run of hardware innovation.
That leaves software, and at least here it’s possible to step out of that buzzing rumour mill (the bees tickle my feet, you know) because iOS7 is a rather well known commodity, although Apple does continue to tweak around the edges in terms of some small UI changes between pre-release versions. It’ll be flatter, it’ll be brighter, it’ll make Jony Ive happy, and so on and so forth.
If you want to dive deep into the rumour bucket, there’s always the iWatch or iTV to ponder, but there everything gets much murkier and more subject to people reading tea leaves rather than “sources”. It’s not impossible, but I wouldn’t be holding my breath for either in the short term at least.
Apple rather solidly isn’t alone in the smartphone game, with plenty of competition from multiple fronts. I don’t quite buy the “Android is wining on every front” arguments, if only because it appears that Samsung’s the only Android maker actually turning profits from Android, but there’s no doubting the impact that Google’s operating system has had on Apple’s plans. Likewise, Microsoft’s waiting in the wings with Windows Phone 8, although consumers seem reluctant to take it up in large numbers, and Blackberry’s handsets such as the Z10 and Q10 are perfectly decent alternatives as well.
None of Apple’s competitors have managed to create quite an industry around rumours and speculation as Apple has, whether as a matter of consequence from its famed secrecy, or as deliberate policy. I’m sure If I asked Apple about that, I’d get the standard boilerplate reply that — and it’s so ingrained I can quote it from memory — “Apple does not comment on rumour or speculation”.
It doesn’t — because so many others will.
Source: AllThingsD

5 thoughts on “The next iPhone: Everything we (don't) know”

  1. In regards to the fingerprint login thing… I had one of these on an HP iPaq… many years ago.. so it’s not exactly innovative or revolutionary.. like many things with Apple, they make them popular but not necessarily invent them.. and that’s not necessarily terrible or evil.. just that it leads to people saying how Apple did this or that “first”.. when they really didn’t.
    Me personally, I’ll be waiting to see what comes of the budget iPhone and will be eagerly anticipating the hands-on reviews etc I’m done with buying the expensive smartphones, at least for now, and I just want to get an updated smartphone without the major hit to the back pocket and then go on a pre-paid SIM.. so I think, depending on the price, specs and performance, the budget iPhone is going to be that..

  2. Agreed that fingerprint sensors aren’t new technology; it’s really a question of how that’s integrated into the entire operating system, which is where there’s some potential for innovation; is it secure enough, for example, to enable purchases?

    1. Indeed.. it’s true that Apple generally leverage these old technologies and make them “beautiful” and “sophisticated”.. and that’s what makes Apple… Apple. 🙂

  3. The thing that I’m most interested in is just how ‘limited’ the 5C will be. I can not just be a 5 in a plastic case because how many would buy the premium 5S? It therefore needs to be restricted or limited but how much of a differential is required to ensure it does not cannibalize the top tier version?

  4. If Apple do release an iPhone 5c it would show a weakening of the original plan for the iDevices (‘What would Steve think!?’; being to have a rolling device schedule where the oldest device becomes the ‘cheap’ model.
    Angus mentions the warranty impact, but something else to think about is the generation of profits would be greater at the end of the device’s lifecycle; bugs are worked out and production yields are maximised. If they start messing with that formula, then end effect would probably be a reduction in profits.
    Two other things, now I think about it them; 1. Apple worked really hard to get the number of product lines really pared down to the essentials so as to maintain focus (HTC anyone!?) and dominate a market. This is an out of step device; so they’d probably region restrict it (Sth America, China, India)
    2. Apple’s image is centred around high profile high cost devices; if they release a cheap version, it starts to detract from the ‘halo’. It’s not immediate but it would be there eventually.

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