iPhone 5 Due in October: No Fireworks, But Steady Improvement
The iPhone 5 is turning out to be an interesting iteration of the iPhone before it even hits store shelves. The longer it takes to arrive, the more unexciting the rumors become.
Just a few months ago, we were hearing rumors of everything from 4G to NFC payment methods . And industry experts counted on the annual release to follow tradition and take place in June. Now more and more sources are saying things may not be so exciting, and they may take a lot longer.
The most popular rumor is that iPhone 5 production won't even start until September. Ming-Chi Kuo, analyst for Concord Securities, confirmed the production rumors, saying it likely won't be available to consumers until early October. The rumors don't all agree on the reason for the delay, ranging from production problems to Apple wanting to move the annual release closer to the holidays.
The delay could mean myriad things for Apple fans, but it does make it far more likely that Apple's WWDC conference, traditionally held in June and the site of past iPhone launches, will not be nearly as anticipated as in previous years.
However, the more disheartening news, which seems to be multiplying like the iPhone 5 delay rumors, is that the iPhone 5 won't actually be much of an improvement over iPhone 4. Instead, it will just get a few relatively minor upgrades and a bit of polish. Experts are already comparing it to the iPhone 3GS, which didn't bring that much new to the table over the iPhone 3G, just a few tweaks.
This is remarkable because the rumors of massive changes and spec bumps have been rampant, including everything from a larger 4-inch display to a rounded aluminum case . Kuo reported that the iPhone 5 will get only a few "slight modifications" from the iPhone 4 design.
According to Kuo, only two of the rumors will come true: a new processor and a camera upgrade.
The camera rumors have most recently focused around a possible collaboration with Sony . Kuo said the iPhone 5 would indeed get an 8-megapixel camera but did not mention the manufacturer.
The details of the new processor were equally vague, mentioned only as a Qualcomm dual-band processor, which has been expected because it would enable the iPhone 5 to run either on Verizon's CDMA network or AT&T's GSM network.
This is easily the most surprising news, simply because it seemed to be a forgone conclusion that Apple would use the new dual-core A5 processor that was introduced with the iPad 2. Apple likes to use the same processor across several product lines (the A4 was in the iPhone 4 and original iPad), so moving to Qualcomm chips seems counterintuitive. In fact, some experts believe it's not even plausible.
"The [rumor] I believe the most is that the iPhone 5 will have an A5 processor. I don't think that's debatable at all," Michael Morgan, senior mobile device analyst at ABI Research, told TechNewsDaily.
While Morgan maintains that some of the rumors, such as 4G LTE and NFC payment methods, are still a big question mark, it's a little early to predict the iPhone 5 will be a dud. He said the 8-megapixel camera upgrade was certainly plausible, and the A5 processor will be a huge performance boost.
"I think this falls in line with Apple's history of development," Morgan said. "Two core things that are ramped up, but with the classic continuity for the rest of the features. They don't want to change the screen size because it causes compatibility problems. And there are going to be technical issues with [4G] LTE. Apple as a rule does not accept technical issues, so they'll probably wait for another iteration to integrate that."
While Morgan has a point, people are still less likely to be as excited about the iPhone 5 if there aren't big changes. It has happened before. The iPhone 3GS wasn't so much a new phone as a faster update of the iPhone 3G (the new processor would effectively make iPhone 5 just a faster iPhone 4), and some consumers complained. Many experts feel the same way about the iPad 2; namely, that it's not much more powerful than the original iPad, just thinner and with a camera.
But Morgan pointed out that a new processor and camera alone will improve the iPhone 5 more than we think, and Apple has a history of slow and steady improvements.
"What else are people expecting? Fireworks?" Morgan quipped.
Well, these are Apple fans we're talking about here, so they probably expect the kitchen sink.