Everything We Know (Or Think We Do) About the iPhone 5

Zooey Deschanel Siri

It’s the eve of what should be the launch of the newest iPhone from Apple, and probably the best smartphone in the years to come until the next iPhone comes out, at least if you believe all the Apple fans out there. I wrote an article about a week ago about why you shouldn’t buy an iPhone right now specifically because of this event. One thing about this launch is that everything Apple’s been keeping secret for tomorrow may not be so secret at all. There have been a bucket load of rumors surrounding the next iPhone, some of which are from sources that have gotten the rumors right in the past. So here’s everything we think we know about the new iPhone in a nice little rumor roundup.

What the Heck is Apple Gonna Call It?

For the most part, Apple has followed a very simple naming scheme when it comes to the iPhone: iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and finally the iPhone 4S. Therefore, it would have been logical for most people to assume that the next iPhone in the line would simply be called the iPhone 5. However, the iPad line put a kink in that thinking when the third iPad came out as the New iPad, instead of the iPad 3. Of course, things became a lot more clearer about the possible name when Apple came out with this promo graphic for tomorrow’s launch event for what is expected to be the next iPhone:

Promo Graphic for iPhone Launch EventSee how the shadow of the number 12 forms 5? Pretty creative and awesome if you ask me, and that magical number 5 should be a good indication that the next iPhone will indeed be called the iPhone 5.

Some people are arguing that the 5 in the promo graphic could be an indication of how many iThings Apple will be launching tomorrow. Those 5 product and software launches could be the new iPhone, iOS 6, revamped versions of the iPod Touch, Nano and Shuffle, and possibly the much-rumored iPad Mini. My money is on the iPhone 5, but it’s a strong possibility that Apple will still launch multiple iDevices in the same event.

A New Taller Retina Screen: Thinner Too!

Rumored iPhone 5 Screen vs iPhone 4S

Many phone manufacturers have known that when it comes to the screen on your cellphone, bigger is indeed better. It looks like Apple has decided to finally catch up with the competition as there is every indication that the screen on the iPhone 5 will be 4 inches in a 16:9 aspect ratio. Why do we know this? Because beta versions of iOS 6 scale up exactly to a 640 x 1136 resolution, allowing it to accommodate 5 rows of apps instead of just 4 lines at a 640 x 960 resolution like on iOS 5.1. That all points to a larger and taller screen that maintains its Retina resolution.

Sure, other phone manufacturers have been coming out with screens in excess of 4 inches. For example, there’s the Samsung Galaxy S3 with its 4.8″screen, the HTC One X with its 4.7″ screen, and the Galaxy Note 2 with its monstrous 5.5″ screen. Of course, Apple and its fans have been eager to point out that such phones can be difficult to use one-handed. By simply making the iPhone 5 screen taller and not wider, Apple ensures that one-handed claim to fame.

The screen is reportedly being manufactured by Sharp and should make use of their IGZO display technology. IGZO screens are much thinner because of the use of smaller transistors and are consequently brighter since a thinner screen allows for more light to pass through. Since more light can pass through, IGZO screens also use fewer LEDs and less energy to achieve the same brightness as a typical LED screen. Take note that a thinner screen assembly means more internals can be crammed into the body of the iPhone 5, without it being as large.

iOS 6: Because What the Heck Else Would They Have Called It?

iOS 6

Most of us have known about iOS 6 since Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference this year (WWDC 2012), and it is expected to launch simultaneously on the iPhone 5. Aside from revealing support for a taller 4-inch screen, iOS 6 also has quite a slew of new features to look forward to.

Siri on iOS 6

First there’s Siri. While Apple marketed the virtual assistant, Siri, as a strong selling point for the iPhone 4S, a lot of people have since been underwhelmed by it. Search results were often very marketing-oriented, and unless you were using your iPhone as a hands-free GPS navigation device while driving, most of us would have input things directly rather than have to use Siri. That’s bound to change though, as Siri searches will be integrated with things like sports scores and stats, IMDB for movie reviews and information, and Rotten Tomatoes for ratings. Siri should also be integrated into apps, some of which include Maps, Yelp and Open Table. Yelp and Open Table aren’t exactly that useful in the Philippines, but we’ll find out tomorrow what other apps might get Siri integration. Another thing of note about Siri is that there is a strong possibility that Apple will no longer be using the Audience’s EarSmart technolgoy that currently powers the virtual assistant and is responsible for speech recognition and sound processing. We know that Siri will still be on iOS 6 so it’s highly likely that Apple has moved all development for Siri in-house. Time will tell if this will make Siri less sucky than it already is.

Revamped Phone Application on iOS 6

Thankfully, the Phone application is receiving more than just a facelift, as it has gone relatively unchanged since the first iPhone. You’ll soon be able to reply with a message rather than having to navigate to the Messaging app after dropping the call. There’s even a list of customizable messages that you can click on to make things easier if you’re in the middle of a meeting or are on the road driving. There’s also a Do Not Disturb feature that would allow you to turn off calls and messages while keeping the screen from lighting up, most likely in the middle of the night during your sleep. You’ll still be able to designate specific contacts as being important so that you can still continue to receive messages and calls from them. The Phone application is also smart enough to recognize that if a person is calling or messaging repeatedly, it will assume that it is an emergency and will let it go through.

iOS 6 Maps

Speaking of that Maps application, Apple is kicking Google Maps out of iOS 6 entirely and simply replacing it with their own navigation solution. Apple had bought a few 3D mapping companies in 2009 and the end results is Maps on iOS 6. It might look a lot prettier than the Google Maps offering with options for a flat map, 3D or satellite, but the information you get isn’t quite as comprehensive or accurate yet. For example if you were to use the Maps application on iOS 6, it might ask you to hang a left from a bridge down to the street below by jumping off said bridge. Yeah, that’s not awesome. To be fair, this is from a beta version of Maps that I’m talking about and hopefully these kinks will get ironed out once iOS 6 gets released on the iPhone 5. And that Siri integration should make that app extremely usable if they get it right. Who am I kidding? This is Apple we’re talking about, of course they’ll get it right.

There’s also Facebook integration, which a lot of users had originally expected on iOS 5. Still, it’s never too late, and you’ll soon be able to post directly to Facebook from within Apple’s apps like Calendar, Maps and Photos. There will also be a Facebook API (Application Programming Interface) that will be released, allowing third party app developers to incorporate that same Facebook integration into their own apps.

Other notable new features on iOS 6 include support for Facetime on 3G, an updated Safari mobile browser that will allow you to sync tabs with Safari on your Mac, streaming Photos to iCloud, a revamped Mail app that will allow you to mark important contacts as VIPs, and new Find my Phone features that let you lock your phone remotely with a 4-digit PIN even if it wasn’t originally locked with a PIN before. It’s also worth noting that iOS 6 will also be made available to older iDevices such as the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, the 4th Generation iPod Touch, the New iPad and the iPad 2. iOS 6 on the iPhone 3GS will likely be a watered-down version to keep things snappy, and sadly the original iPad won’t be receiving the iOS update at all.

The Dock Connector: If You’ve Invested in a Bunch of iPeripherals, You’re in for a Bad Time

Let’s face it. The old 30-pin dock connector that’s been around since the first iPod is pretty outdated. It’s large, eats up a lot of space that could otherwise be used to cram in more tech, and is deserving of an upgrade. All rumors are pointing to a much smaller and space-friendly 9-pin dock connector, and while Apple is expected to come out with adapters so the iPhone 5 can still dock with legacy peripherals, the reported price on those is $10 per piece or $29 if you buy a pack of three. You’ll probably want to buy that pack of three because you’re just as likely to keep losing the adapter as you will the actual cable if you decide to be a cheapskate and keep switching it out.

Two-tone Body: Has Jonathan Ives Gone Nuts? Probably Not

With the aforementioned dock connector being shrunk down to size, that makes room for the headphone jack to be moved from the top of the device down to the bottom.This makes design sense since you wouldn’t have to flip the iPhone 5 over if you wanted to put it in your pocket while a headset was plugged in.

Two-tone Iphone 5 Body

There have been many leaked shots of alleged parts from the iPhone 5 that been making rounds across the web, as well as shots from a fully assembled phone. Some of those that have caught my eye are the ones that featured a two-tone body, which is, to me, a clear violation of the Jonathan Ives design code of keeping things simple. Of course, these are just rumors, and nothing Jonathan Ives has ever designed for Apple has never been in two-tone, or multi-tone for that matter.

Network Speeds: Finally, 4G for the iPhone

When the iPhone 4S came out, people were expecting that it would at least get support for 4G networks, especially since 4G adoption rates among US telcos was quickly increasing to a point were it did not make sense not to support it. Fast forward to today, and it looks like the iPhone 5 will likely come out with support for some 4G networks, particularly those that have had a high adoption rate internationally to make it truly a world phone. This is very timely here in the Philippines considering both Smart and Globe have both announced the availability of 4G data plans.

Sure It’s Being Announced Tomorrow, But When Will We Get Our Hands on It?

Last year, the iPhone 4 was released on October 14, which was 10 days after its launch event on the 4th. It’s expected to be the same this year, and based on sources that have come through in the past, iMore has reported that this year’s iPhone 5 release date will be on September 21 – 9 days after the expected launch event. In the Philippines though, it could be anywhere from a week to a month after the official release, so let’s hope the telcos get their asses in the right place and start bringing in batches of the iPhone 5 as soon as possible. Pricing is expected to mimic that of the iPhone 4S when it was released, which makes sense since local telcos have been dropping the price of the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS just recently.

But We Could be Wrong

Then again, all the rumors could be false and all of our assumptions will be blown out of the water after tomorrow’s event. Sure, that’s a possibility, but more than a few of these sources have been reliable in the past, so expect some of them to come true by tomorrow.

Sources: Gizmodo 1 and 2, PhoneArena, TUAW, iMore

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