Assuming the rumors and speculation are partly or mostly accurate, I suppose you would agree that tech savvy people have a pretty good idea about the next iPhone. It is supposed to be called the iPhone 5. It will be introduced at a so-far unannounced media event on September 12, and will go on sale the following week.
The basic specs have been depicted in supposedly leaked prototype photos, showing mostly the internal workings, and some external illustrations of the actual form factor. If they are accurate -- and it's never a certainly -- the iPhone 5 will sport a display of roughly four inches, with the increase vertical, rather than horizontal. This will allow you to still use it with one hand. Some of those other smartphones aren't so well designed, particularly handsets from Samsung and other companies that have displays that exceed five inches.
The rest of the specs include support for LTE networking, and possibly a smaller and reversible dock connector. Since lots of accessories would become incompatible with the new iPhone as a result of that change, Apple might supply a converter plug. At least I hope so.
There's even a blurry photo said to depict an A6 processor, which indicates better performance as well. Apple's alleged move to in-cell display technology means that the touch screen and display will become one, making for a thinner part, maybe even more power efficient. Certainly that, and a larger battery, would help Apple cope with the higher requirements of LTE hardware, and still keep the battery life at roughly the current level.
Understand that everything I've said so far consists of rumors, although some of the speculation appears to be informed. Certainly when The Loop's Jim Dalrymple gets involved and proclaims something true -- such as the date of Apple's expected media event -- you are probably safe in assuming that he's right. He's also said, by the way, that Apple will introduce a tinier iPad in October.
All well and good. If you have an Android phone, or an older iPhone, you may be wondering whether it's time to get in line for the fall upgrade. Now I realize some of you have recent contracts with your wireless provider, so there could be a hefty fee to break your contract. On the positive side of the ledger, if you sell your iPhone, you could get a pretty decent amount of money that may be sufficient to cover your loss. I've seen offers for an iPhone 4s, last year's model, in the range of $300 or so, which may leave you with a little extra cash for your iPhone 5.
If you have an Android phone, you may have a problem, particularly if it carries the Samsung label. According to published reports, more and more customers are dumping their Android phones, which has the effect of reducing the sales price. That could be a short-term problem, though.
Of course, if your contract with a wireless carrier is up or will be shortly, or you can afford to buy an unsubsidized iPhone, no problem. You just have to get in line, as the demand will no doubt be off the charts. In fact, I rather suspect Apple is working overtime to get the iPhone 5 on the market before the September quarter ends to boost sales results. No doubt there are folks on the sidelines not buying any other iPhone in anticipation of a newer, better model.
Apple suffered from the waiting on the sidelines syndrome last year, and the run up to the iPhone 5 may make the phenomenon worse. Yes, I realize that some industry analysts don't believe that large numbers of customers are holding back, but I think Apple's September 2011 quarter demonstrates the opposite is true.
For me, having an iPhone 4s purchased from an AT&T store some weeks after last year's introduction, I'd have to pay a hefty penalty to get the iPhone 4. On the other hand, I have options. My wife's handset, a vintage Motorola RAZR, is long past its contract. She has been asking about a replacement, and I suppose I could move the iPhone 4s to her number, which would transfer the contract as well, and sign up for an iPhone 5 without paying the penalty.
The real issue is whether the upgrade will be that compelling beyond the expected larger screen. I don't worry so much about faster download speeds, since most of my downloading is done on a Wi-Fi connection. I suppose an A6 will deliver a better user experience, particularly for gaming, if I played games of course. But I didn't notice that much of an improvement when moving from an iPhone 4 to an iPhone 4s.
This is a dilemma lots of you are going to confront over the next few weeks. I expect that next iPhone to break sales records, in part, on the basis of anticipation and deferred sales. And the Apple/Samsung verdict will likely move more customers into the Apple camp.
For me, though, the most important upgrade may be the next iMac. Mine is nearly three years old, an eternity in the personal computing world. Maybe I should pass the iPhone 5 by and apply the savings towards a down payment on a new Mac instead.
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