Does the iPhone 4S pave the way for the iPhone 5?
Before its launch in California last month, anticipation was fever pitch that a new look, new style iPhone would usher in a new generation of smartphones. There was some disappointment when iPhone 4S was unveiled. However, do the key features of the new Apple device point a finger as to the direction they might move in for the iPhone 5?
Apple suggests the iPhone 5 will come out in 2012, other than that, no suggestion of spec, ambition even hypothetically, is forthcoming. Yet by examining what the iPhone 4S brings, can we see a glimpse into the future?
One of the major disappointments for tech writers when the iPhone 4S was released is that it looks almost the same as the iPhone 4. The same was true of the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 3G. Minor modifications, subtle improvements in design help link one generation of iPhone with newer models. However the jump from iPhone 3GS to iPhone 4 was staggering, in terms of design. A more square, more functional shape replacing the sleek curvy lines. The iPhone 5 could go back to being curvy, which would undoubtedly make it stand out again on the smartphone market, but as Apple now tends to put the antennae on the edge, this could cause issues, and Apple will be keen to avoid antenna issues for its new few models.
The iPhone was once all-dominating in regards to the screen. Now with the Sony Ericsson Xperia series, Galaxy Nexus and more importantly the mammoth Samsung Galaxy SII, is it likely Apple will increase screen size for the iPhone 4S? For the iPhone 4 Apple focused instead on increasing the pixel count, which meant pictures and videos looked sharper and better on the screen – although the new 4S saw neither an increase in screen size or screen resolution. Does size really matter though? Chances are Apple will keep the iPhone 5 snugly handheld and improve pixel count even further.
A larger screen was one of the many upgrades that people had been hotly anticipating with this latest iPhone, which suggests that to many people it may be important. Although a larger screen has its benefits for things like video and web browsing, there are also good reasons for Apple to stick with its traditional 3.5 inches. For one thing, it makes the iPhone much less cumbersome than some of the larger Android phones currently on the market.
4G will be knocking on the doors by the time the iPhone 5 is released. This will have as seismic a shift on the mobile market — just as 3G did –, but with new developments comes greater responsibility. 4G was expected on this latest iPhone, although one major reason why Apple may have chosen not to include it is that 4G is not widespread enough yet. Even in countries where 4G is operational, like the United States, it does not cover the entire country and it is not certain yet which of the many 4G technologies will become standard.
A key message at the launch of the iPhone 4S was improved battery life and power consumption, even if they have been some complaints from Apple users that in fact the new device appears to have many more battery problems than earlier iPhones.
The super-fast A5 processor and the move to a dual core 1GHz speed means making multi-tasking faster and more integrated within the iOS suggests these are sentiments that will continue with the iPhone 5. A new A6 chip could even be on the cards to improve performance even further. This is a natural progression for things like computers and smartphones – although one people shouldn’t get too hung up about. Apple always place more emphasis on having a smooth interface than having the biggest and fastest processor going.
While it may lead the way on innovative design, ultimately knowing what’s cool and what isn’t, Apple does not lead the field on apps, tending to buy in knowledge that it then makes centrepiece of its software. Siri is the perfect example, the feature that has made the iPhone 4S so user-friendly. It is likely something similar will happen for the iPhone 5, so it might be worth examining recent Apple acquisitions. Google Wallet is likely to make a big splash in 2012, so perhaps Apple will make a card free payment system a key feature of its iPhone 5.