I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but Apple’s got a big announcement Wednesday.
The tech giant is expected, okay let’s be honest, they will announce the latest edition of the iPhone. Planned to be dubbed the iPhone 5. Apparently Apple is taking a cue from Microsoft and Windows 7, as the iPhone 5 is in no way the fifth generation of the iPhone.
Regardless, it is expected to be a huge seller – after all it’s an iPhone – but that doesn’t mean it will necessarily be the best phone on the market, at least spec wise. So ahead of the iPhone announcement, I thought I’d take this opportunity to breakdown how a company that popularized and was a trail blazer in the smart phone market, got behind the times. Count this post as not only my official predictions for the iPhone’s internals and features, but also my rebuttal to Apple’s inevitable proclamation of innovation and leadership.
We can just about write it in stone; the new iPhone will have a bigger screen. Furthermore, it will not be wider than the current models. Apple seems to be stuck on their current design for the iPhone, it is a slender phone, not short and not fat. However, it looks like the iPhone 5 will grow up a little, stretching a tad bit taller to make a 4″ screen instead of a 3.5″ screen. This is a necessary change. In a world where one of the best selling phones of the year was an astounding 5.3″ screen behemoth, Apple needs to catch up to the natural evolution of smartphones.
I use an iPhone, the screen size is a problem. It is difficult to type, and clearing notifications is frustrating. Plus, as phones become more media and gaming focused, larger screens will be demanded.
I’d be incredibly surprised if Apple attempts to claim leadership or innovation in regards to screen size, even the original Motorola Droid, released in October 2009, touted a 3.7-inch screen, and Android screen sizes settled around 4.3-4.5-inches well over a year and a half ago. Apple desperately needs to catch up in the screen size department, and this is their opportunity.
When the iPhone 4 debuted in 2010, I vividly remember telling people that it did not have 4G connectivity. People corrected me by saying, “isn’t that why it’s called the iPhone 4?”
So when Apple announced the iPhone 4S, I was expecting 4G service.
Still a no.
With the iPhone 5 Apple must be including LTE, right?
There are still people that believe LTE might be left out of the iPhone 5. I can imagine Apple having concerns with putting LTE in the iPhone. There are two main problems with LTE; size and battery. The iPad 3 is slightly larger than the iPad 2 due to LTE. Not only radio size, but a bigger capacity battery has to be installed to accommodate the battery hefty LTE radios. Apple is a stickler for good battery life and svelte figure, there’s a chance they could see LTE as a bigger con than pro.
However, consumers want LTE. It is fast. And if Apple is going to attract deflected Android consumers, they will have to include it. Nearly every mid-range and high-end Android smartphone sold today includes LTE. And AT&T and Verizon both have formidable networks, while Sprint and T-Mobile are building theirs out. Going from LTE to 3G is like going from an Audi to a Chevy Aveo. Consumers might not know what NFC is, another common Android technology, but they know what LTE is, and they will be disappointed if it is not included in this latest iPhone.
My prediction: Apple will have no choice but to include it. They will claim it is super fast and will take credit for making your iPhone network speeds faster. Just remember, the first Verizon 4G LTE phone, the HTC Thunderbolt, debuted in March 2011.
Other Hardware Features
With LTE on board and a larger screen, Apple will have to include a bigger battery. Whether this is at the expense of the iPhone 5′s thickness remains to be seen. I’m hoping Apple has some battery technology up their sleeve that will increase battery life by immense amounts. I doubt it. And if they did, it will likely be patented to the high heavens, so I’d have to buy an iPhone to take advantage of it. A bigger battery will be included, but I’d say not much bigger than the current battery in the iPhone 4S. Which will make Apple still far behind on battery size, the iPhone 4S has a talk time of 8 hours – the leading smartphone battery, the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx, boasts 21 hours of talk time.
The big question mark on the hardware front is NFC. Short for Near Field Communication, NFC is a technology that allows two pieces of gadgetry to speak to one another wireless. It usually involves some type of physical movement to connect, generally in the form of a tap together, and information can be transmitted from one device to another.
The biggest user of this technology on Android is Google Wallet. An NFC enabled phone with Google Wallet can transmit payment information at the checkout counter of a store, so you don’t have to take out your wallet and credit cards. It has been a slow moving adoption, but is picking up steam now that Google has opened the doors to more than just MasterCard Citi Bank cardholders.
There is much contention regarding the inclusion of NFC in the new iPhone. I say Apple does include NFC, but they won’t label it as such, they’ll likely have some flashy name for it, and present it as a function rather than a feature (see Apps for more details).
Again, Apple would be well behind the times if they include this feature, although they’ll likely dub it as revolutionary. The first phone to feature NFC was around before the first iPhone was even announced. It was the Nokia 6131 circa 2006. The first Android phone to include it was the Samsung Nexus S in 2010, and it was popularized with the Galaxy Nexus in late 2011.
While Apple has already introduced the world to the operating system that the iPhone 5 will run, iOS 6, they oftentimes announce new apps or software features at the iPhone keynotes. Siri was a surprise to the tech world when the iPhone 4S was announced, what could be up Apple’s sleeve this time?
I do not think they will announce significant changes to Siri. Some believe Apple might introduce the API for Siri, allowing Siri to interact with third-party applications. But given the fact that Apple does not even allow applications to include themselves on the share menu throughout the OS, I doubt we will see an API for Siri. We might see integration with Twitter or Facebook, but nothing on a wide scale.
There have been rumors recently that Apple might introduce a streaming radio service, much like Pandora or Spotify. I’m not sure what the logic is behind that decision, but it would further bolster Apple’s entertainment offering. But just remember, Pandora has been around since early 2000 – seven years before the original iPhone was announced. And Spotify has been available in the states for over a year. Anything Apple does would just be riding their coattails.
Personally, I think Apple introduces a new streaming audio service and an expansion of their previously announced Passbook app.
Passbook as it stands now just collects cards and tickets, and other items you might keep in your wallet. In other words, it aggregates items you have already paid for, it does not enable payments. I would not at all be surprised if Apple turns on an additional feature of Passbook, mobile payments, and if Apple does that they will have major retail partners waiting in the wings.
This is a stretch. I think Apple is going down this path eventually but not now. We would have heard a rumor by now, given the sheer number of people that would have been involved with negotiations like that (credit card companies, retailers, etc.) But Apple has to have some “innovation” in this announcement, right?
Well, technically even if they announce mobile payments, that’s hardly an innovation. Google Wallet was announced in May 2011, and Square opened shop in May 2010.
The Dock Connector
Apple will without a doubt introduce a new dock connector, a much smaller nine pin connector to replace the old 30 pin connector.
This will leave many current iDevice owners with third party docks, speakers, and other devices that no longer work with the latest iPhone. I have no problem with Apple making this change, it needs to happen to make room inside the device, I have a problem with their control over the third party market however. The rumor is they have yet to supply vendors with the technical documentation for the new connector, which means at initial launch, Apple will be the only vendor able to sell any type of dock or connector for the phone.
We thought Microsoft was thumbing their nose to OEMs when they announced the Surface tablet. The iDevice accessories industry is huge. For Apple to take control of it like that is irresonsible in my opinion.
Personally, I wish Apple would make the switch to Miro-USB, a standard that is in nearly every Android phone, and some tablets, and is good for the consumer. However, I never expect that to happen.
There you have it, my official predictions and rebuttals to all of the “innovations” forthcoming in the new iPhone. I believe that covers all of the major rumors. I hope Apple has something up their sleeve. If this announcement is just another bland “catch-up to Android” announcement, this could be very disappointing. Sure, they’ll sell millions of these devices, but Android isn’t getting any worse. The Android software is equal to iOS, if not better, and the hardware is beginning to catch-up. Apple cannot take their standing for granted.
And that, my friends, is why I have a bad taste about Apple. They have stopped innovating. They use to take risks. I admire risk takers. Now, they wait around until Android manufacturers and Google take the risks, and then play catch-up. They are taking advantage of their standing. I want Apple to innovate and take risks again, I hope that resumes on Wednesday.