All right, so one of the recent rumors about that alleged forthcoming iPhone 5s speaks of a gold-colored version. All right, I’m OK with more colors, though one hopes it won’t take months for them to show up in quantity. Let’s not forget the white iPhone 4 that never made it until the spring of 2011, months after the original release of the black version.
Sure, that happened when Steve Jobs was still Apple CEO, and he was always perfect, and Tim Cook is still imperfect. At least that’s what some media commentators want you to believe.
In any case, the latest rumor about a gold iPhone 5s comes from no less than AllThingsD, which, as you no doubt recall, is a tech blog run by the Wall Street Journal. As such places go, that site is known to deliver reliable information about Apple and the company’s plans. So this may be a lock, as is the earlier report of an iPhone launch event on Tuesday, September 10. That it’s all happening the day after my birthday is of no significance whatever, of course.
So here’s what we are all expecting: An iPhone 5s, which will look just about the same as the iPhone 5, but will sport a fingerprint sensor among the new parts. The rest will be natural upgrades to existing hardware, making it faster and all that stuff. I’ll separate iOS 7 from the picture, since it’ll also run on tens of millions of older iPhones.
In addition to a new flagship model, more and more speculation, some of it from authoritative sources, is focused on a plastic-cased iPhone 5c, essentially an iPhone 5 in a new dress, and thus less expensive. But it’s also possible that the iPhone 4s will become the low-end model, at, one hopes, at an even lower-end retail price. Unless Apple changes the 4S from the Dock to Lightning connector, there will still be one device in the lineup that doesn’t support the new cabling scheme.
So is there any reason to doubt any of this? Well, there are also reports that Foxconn is gearing up to produce millions and millions of the new iPhones, in order to give Apple a fairly plentiful supply to sell on the day the gadgets officially go on sale, which would be on or about September 20. But there are also reports of difficulty ramping up production of the iPhone 5s because of the new fingerprint sensor.
But notice that few mention NFC networking, which is common issue on the higher-end Android smartphones. No doubt Apple will have something to say about that, such as the lack of consistent standards and the lack of support. Now this may not mean much in the scheme of things, but I’ve had extended encounters with two Android smartphones equipped with NFC, and I’ve never, ever, seen the need to turn that feature on. The merchants I visit don’t have huge signs saying, “NFC supported” or some such, nor do the financial institutions with whom I deal send me emails about the great near-field networking feature. Or whatever.
The other differences are debatable. Will there be a spiffier processor, dubbed the A7? What about the camera sensor? Will it still be eight megabits, or will Apple jump to 12? What about just a better lens and superior low-light performance. How many megapixels do you need to take great pictures and use them for anything smaller than a large poster?
What’s more, other than the fingerprint sensor, if it arrives, will there be a compelling reason after all to upgrade to an iPhone 5s? Why not find an iPhone 5 on closeout? At best, the new model will be a little bit faster overall, capable of better pictures, and maybe there will be some other goodies that the media hasn’t talked about yet, but will those goodies be enough to hang an upgrade on? What about the rumored 128GB version? Well, for Apple, it’s great, because the higher storage versions are hugely overpriced.
Now the larger audience for the iPhone 5s — and again that assumes that’s the model designation, and the configuration is close to what the predictions indicate — will be new customers, those leaving other smartphone platforms, and those who have expiring contracts and are ready for the latest and greatest from Apple.
Regardless, Apple’s critics will continue to claim that the company cheated them out of a compelling upgrade, not that the upgrades to other popular smartphones have seemed all that compelling. Take the Samsung Galaxy S4, with loads of useless features, which apparently hasn’t sold quite as well as the company expected.
There is also one other left-field possibility, and that is a “Maxi” iPhone 5 with a 4.5-inch screen, or something in that range. As much as Apple has been skeptical of using bigger screens, it’s an undeniable fact that the flagship models for most other companies continue sport bigger and bigger displays. For some the 4-inch iPhone 5 screen seems a tad small, and if Apple has put in hooks in iOS 7 to make it easier for developers to accommodate more display configurations, maybe it’s not such a huge deal.
Is there something in the new iPhone that will amaze Apple customers, and even some of the skeptics? We’ll all know soon enough.