Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
As we all await the announcement of the next iPhone later today at Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, new rumours and leaks are still being made, about both the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 4S. Let’s go over what’s been said so far:
Form Factor: The iPhone 5′s form factor is due to see quite a few changes, based on iPhone 5 case designs that we leaked back in July. MacRumors.com ran with our design documents and had the photo below mocked up, which included the changes we highlighted.
Display: The iPhone 5 display looks to be expanding to stretch from edge-to-edge, granting up to 4″ of screen size to compete against larger-screened Android phones. It seems unlikely that the resolution of the iPhone will change as this would necessitate changes to all apps published on the iOS platform; Apple rather deliberately doubled the resolution from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4 to ensure that old content just appeared at half-resolution instead of some less round fraction.
If Apple doesn’t up the pixel count, they may fall short of the ‘magic number’ which their ‘Retina Display’ marketing relied so heavily upon. The expanded display might be slightly increased, but use the extra space for edge-of-screen notifications. These were hinted at in a patent last year, but they haven’t materialised in developer builds of iOS 5 so it seems unlikely that they’ll turn up.
Buttons: The home button may serve as a touch-sensitive area, allowing the use of multi-touch gestures here. The hardware button might remain, with the new functionality laid on top, or might be eliminated altogether so that the area is solely a touch point.
There are changes elsewhere too — we know from earlier case design leaks (including from Case-Mate itself) that the iPhone 5′s lock button will switch sides. Other side buttons seem to remain in the same place, but the volume buttons seem to have changed back to the rocker concept found in 3G iPhones rather than the iPhone 4′s dedicated up and down buttons.
Back: The back cover of the iPhone 5 looks to be returning to its old roots as well, with a curved back in evidence that resembles the one used by the 3G iPhones. The back also looks to be metal clad once again, perhaps due to problems with produced curved glass.
Some sites are also suggesting that the phone will be wider at the top than at the bottom, producing a ‘teardrop’ design that angles the phone for easier desktop use. This seems unlikely however, given that it would cause the iPhone to tilt to one side when used in landscape mode.
Processor: The new iPhone 5 will almost certainly offer a faster dual core processor to remain competitive against the marauding Android handsets. Apple already uses a dual core ARM A5 chip in their iPad, so including this in the next iPhone seems like an inevitability.
If the iPhone 5 launches next year, expect a different chip clocked to a higher frequency to stay competitive (somewhere in the region of 1.5GHz seems likely).
RAM: The iPhone 5 is due to receive an upgrade to 1 GB of RAM, doubling its previous amount.
Internal Storage: We’ve received word from a Vodafone executive that the new iPhone will include options of up to 64 GB of flash storage. These are corroborated by screenshots taken of the Vodafone Germany website, where iPhone 4S in Black and White were offered with 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB for a few minutes. Expect the iPhone 5 in these sizes as well.
Camera: We’ve received quite a few words on this upgraded component, including photos of the camera assembly itself via Chinese manufacturers. The camera looks to be upgraded to 8 megapixels and is said to include a back-lit sensor to improve low-light image quality.
There are also references to panoramic photos in the iOS 5 documentation, so expect this feature to be standard. If the iPhone 5 does launch next year, it’ll face stiff competition from the Samsung Galaxy S III which is said to boast a 16 megapixel sensor.
iOS5: There are software changes too, which developers have seen firsthand with the iOS 5 developer preview. The most obvious change is that iCloud cloud storage has been integrated in a big way. There’s also improvements to notifications, making them for akin to the Android notification system. Several apps will also see updates, including Mail and Safari. Twitter integration is another plus, with many apps now offering the option to post content to Twitter.
Speech: Ever since Apple acquired personal assistant app developer Siri last year, insiders have expected improved voice control to the iPhone. This looks to be coming together nicely, with reports of a new application called Assistant which will be capable of performing a number of speech recognition and speech synthesis tasks, including transcribing dictated messages and performing more voice-activated commands than ever before.
Whilst the iPhone 4 already contains voice control, the level of integration is said to be ‘world changing’ according to Siri co-founder Norman Winarsky, who heralds it as the first ‘real AI with real market use’. Assistant will reportedly only be available on the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5, as it requires the RAM and CPU upgrades that both will include.
Release Date: The iPhone 5′s release date is still a matter of speculation. Due to the various slowdowns that Apple have experienced in manufacturing the device, I expect that the iPhone 5 will be released in 2012, although Apple has surprised us before with quicker-than-expected product releases. The earliest possible date will be October 14th.
We’ll have to see which of these rumours are true once the announcement is actually made — here at Mobile Fun we’ll be covering the launch and offering iPhone 5 accessories as soon as ever we can afterwards — including iPhone 5 cases and iPhone 5 screen protectors. Feel free to check out our iPhone 4S rumour roundup too.
Let me know what you think via social media channels as usual, or via the comments section.
Wednesday, August 24th, 2011
It’s been almost a month since we first broke our story about the iPhone 5′s new shape on this blog. In that time, we’ve heard some fresh new rumours about the iPhone 5, and we’ve even gotten a few new shots of an interesting looking iPhone 5 case. Let’s have a look at that new case then!
The Hexagonal Case
While iPhone cases have used hexagonal elements before, they’ve never been quite this big. The design leaves quite a lot of the phone’s back plate visible. This is unlikely a technical requirement (as we haven’t seen this in iPhone 5 cases before) but it could speak to the increased strength of the back plate (and therefore a return to metal).
Click the image to enlarge
More importantly, the iPhone 5 case shows that same rounded design reminiscent of the iPhone 3, which seems to be almost a certainty for the iPhone 5. As you can see in the image below, there’s more evidence of the mute switch’s side swap, with that toggle now operating on the same side as the iPhone camera.
Speaking of the iPhone camera, you can see that the dual flash rumoured by some outlets has still failed to materialise, and looks unlikely to at this stage.
Click the image to enlarge
Curiously, near the bottom of the phone what looks to be a small twin LED or glass chamber of some kind. You can see it fairly clearly on the image above; what do you make of it?
Click the image to enlarge
On this final image, we get a good look at the side bumper buttons. It does look like they’ll remain physical buttons due to the design of the case, and the shape fits the traditional ‘rocker’ design more than the iPhone 4 style of having separate buttons.
- The iPhone 5 may not be the only new iPhone released this year. The Telegraph are reporting that a low-cost version of the iPhone 4 will be released called the iPhone 4S. This stripped-down iPhone will rely heavily on iCloud storage as its internal storage will be limited to 8 GB.
- The iPhone 5 is set to release in late September or October, according to an AT&T executive who says the next 30 to 50 days will be increasingly busy in AT&T stores. Apple sources have also said that their stores will get busy over the next 60 days.
- The Wall Street Journal has reported that Sprint, the largest telecom in the US not to sell the iPhone, will be selling the iPhone 5 (and iPhone 4) along with Verizon and AT&T. They also mention that the new iPhone 5 will be ‘thinner and lighter with an improved digital camera’.
- TVC Mall have started to stock ‘replacement’ iPhone 5 cameras, which look to have its motherboard connector much further down than where it is now. This would make sense given the mute toggle has swapped sides and will now be right now to the camera, meaning that its machinery may take the space currently allotted to the camera connector.
- TV ads are currently being shot for the iPhone 5, seemingly confirming the late September / early October launch date as iPhone 4 videos were shot about the same amount of time before release.
That’s all for now. If you’d like to share your thoughts on this latest case reveal and the iPhone 5 accessories, please let us know via the social media channels below. Thanks!
Tuesday, July 26th, 2011
The image shown to the right is a design document for an iPhone 5 case, sourced to Mobile Fun from a Chinese case manufacturer. Luckily for us, the image shows the iPhone 5 and reveals some of the massive changes that have been made with the latest edition of Apple’s iPhone.
A CAD mockup of an iPhone 5 case from a Chinese case manufacturer
Soon after receiving the first image shown here, we were sent from a different manufacturer a mockup of how another iPhone 5 case would look. This release seems to corroborate many of the features indicated by the first image.
A mockup of a second iPhone 5 case, from a different manufacturer
If these images are authentic – and we have every reason to believe that they are – then the iPhone 5 is a radical evolution of the iPhone concept, and a bigger departure from the iPhone 4 than previous case images have shown.
Starting with the front of the phone, we can see that the screen size has been extended considerably, from 3.5 inches to 4, although the overall size of the phone has remained the same. This has been accomplished by shrinking the bezel such that no space is wasted; the display stretches from edge to edge, and the top and bottom bezels have been considerably reduced in size as well.
It’s possible this ties into a patent filed by Apple a few months ago, which suggests that the extra space will be used for on-screen indicators and controls. These indicators could then be hidden, à la Lion’s full screen apps, to maximuse screen space for applications like 1080p video playback.
Another interesting point is the curvature of the iPhone 5. After going with a squared construction on the iPhone 4, Apple seem to have reverted to their curvaceous ways. The iPhone 5′s rear panel curves gently back around its edges, much like the iPhone 3G.
This likely means that the back will be metal, and could serve as a replacement for the iPhone 4′s unique side antennae which seemed revolutionary at the time, but caused so much trouble with call droppage last year.
On the other hand, Apple does have the capability to produce curved glass, after its purchase of a few hundred glass cutting machines, which were said to be too expensive for manufacturers. Curved glass doesn’t appear to be being used on the front display, but could very well make up the back.
The case shown in the design document does include a gap for the Apple logo; this may lend credence to rumours that the logo itself will serve as the iPhone 5′s attenae. This feature isn’t present on the second image however, so it may simply be a design choice between the two case manufacturers rather than a technical requirement.
Steve Jobs originally intended for the iPhone to be buttonless, but found he couldn’t quite get away with it. It looks like he’s some way closer to that goal with the iPhone 5; the physical home screen button has been replaced with a touch-sensitive ovaloid area which takes up the middle half of the bottom border. This area might be used for unique multi-touch gestures, given its increased size.
Another big difference is the placement of the side buttons; according to the design document these are now placed on the opposite side of the phone. The lock toggle is therefore quite close to the camera, but the volume buttons have moved much further down the phone, sitting just below the halfway point. It’s possible that these, and the lock button on the top, have been changed to be touch-sensitive rather than being physical buttons.
In a lot of ways the iPhone 4 was a mixed success for Apple, with a few design decisions representing a step backwards for the brand. This rethink of the iPhone design looks to combine the best features of the iPhone 4, some touches from iPhones gone past, and a trainload of exciting new developments. The iPhone 5 is rumoured to launch later this year, so soon we’ll see what Apple has wrought.
Update: Thursday, July 28th
Since this story’s initial release, many major websites have weighed in, including 9 to 5 Mac, CNET, T3 and Macworld. Community-driven news site Reddit also chimed in. Let’s have a look about what they had to say.
9 to 5 Mac have noted that the ‘touch-sensitive ovaloid area’ we suggested might be for gestures is backed up by an earlier report that claimed the iPhone 5 would feature a gesture based home button. Commenter @erkka also mentions that the lower volume buttons would make sense given how they are to be used as the camera’s shutter release.
Cult of Mac report that the curved backed design of the iPhone 5 would ‘minimise the attenuation issues caused by users bridging the iPhone’s antennas with their hand, which is what caused the whole Antennagate fiasco’. They also mention the larger home button area would make sense for gestures, and agree that Jobs may be a lot closer to the buttonless smartphone.
CNET UK point out that even with the expanded home button, it would be difficult to get more than a single finger in there, meaning that the gestures for that area are likely to be specialised one-finger gestures. They also point to their earlier report that shows the iOS 5 beta has a control panel that replaces the physical buttons, so a gesture area might not be too ridiculous.
Mac Rumors have written that many of the specifics of our analysis agree with an earlier story reported by ThisIsMyNext. That report claimed ‘the home button is doing double duty as a gesture area… will likely be enlarged’ and ‘the screen will occupy the entire… front of the phone, meaning almost no bezel.’ They also point out that although the case does suggest otherwise, mainstream news outlets have said that the iPhone 5 ‘will look largely similar to the current iPhone 4′.
Reddit users also wrote about the story, with the top-voted comment being by kermityfrog: ‘Too bad – just about everyone likes the form factor of the iPhone 4 better’. Many users echoed his sentiments, noting that a return to a curved assembly would be a big step backwards. User Shelby69 also contributed, writing that the lowered volume buttons could be to leave room for the sim card, which presumably wouldn’t change sides.
New cases have also appeared which appear to confirm our initial report, showing a dramatically thinner iPhone 5. It will be very interesting to see how many of these suspected features show up in the announced version – I am feeling confident!