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What We Want in the iPhone 5


Dual-band, more megapixels, encased in metal? Yes, please.

July 5, 2011

  June has passed without an iPhone announcement in sight. No sooner did we tear out last month’s page from our digital calendars than did reports of the iPhone 5 entering pre-production leak out, pointing to an August or September reveal. New details have emerged over the last few weeks, some backing up earlier reports, a few contradicting others. Read on for a rundown of what we want in the next iPhone.
A New Design
The iPhone 4’s debut last summer marked a departure from the bulbous, tapered, plastic-backed design Apple introduced two years prior with the iPhone 3G and reused for the iPhone 3GS. It’s tempting to assume, then, that the iPhone 5 will follow the 3GS’s example by reusing the previous year’s design — the iPhone 4’s glass, angular aesthetic — but a couple things suggest this won’t be so. The first being the generally overblown but nonetheless negative association some may still have about the iPhone 4’s antenna-on-the-outside construction that resulted in signal degradation for some customers. Changing the design would help create a mental break between the “tarnished” iPhone 4 and its successor. The other indicator of a redesign comes from "insider" reports, first from Joshua Topolsky at This Is My Next and now, BGR, whose sources say a redesign is in production for this fall (likely to be unveiled at Apple’s annual music event). More specifically, the iPhone 5 will take cues from the MacBook Air, using aluminum instead of glass or plastic, and a tapered silhouette. Imagine a cross between the original iPhone and the iPad 2 and you’re probably not far off, assuming the reports are true.
A5 Processor, Bigger Display, More Storage
Given a recent report by Bloomberg, and the steady advancement of iPhone CPU power, predicting that the iPad 2’s dual-core A5 processor is destined for the iPhone 5 seems pretty safe. So, too, a better camera — with, according to Bloomberg’s sources, an 8 megapixel sensor, up from the iPhone 4’s 5MP sensor —. along with, one could infer, more RAM and a more powerful GPU.
A larger screen and more flash storage, though, are additions one might otherwise bet against, yet Apple may bring both to the iPhone 5. While 3.5-inches has become the de facto screen size on iPhone models, it may grow to 3.7 or even 4-inches, suggest reports fromDigiTimes and This Is My Next, respectively. Meanwhile, alleged iPhone 4 prototypes sporting 64GBstorage imply flash prices have dropped enough for Apple to include them in the top-tier iPhone 5, with a 32GB model taking the place and price point of the 16GB iPhone 4.
One Universal World Phone
In the U.S., we often discuss the Verizon iPhone 4 and AT&T iPhone 4 as if the two were the same device. If you’ve tried switching carriers since the iPhone 4’s launch on Verizon, however, you know the process involves not merely termination and activation fees but the purchase of a seemingly identical iPhone 4. And if your new carrier is Verizon, and you’re a world traveler, you won’t be using your new Apple device overseas often (as most of the rest of the world has standardized on GSM; Verizon is CDMA). If comments from Verizon itself are true, the iPhone 5 will launch as a single, dual-band “world phone” that works on the lingering CDMA networks (like Verizon, which is in the process of switching to GSM’s 4G standard: LTE) as well as the dominant GSM networks. That being case, the purported plans for a simultaneous Verizon-AT&T launch sound only natural. Looking at the apparent effect the iPhone’s expansion to Verizon has had, both on iPhone and Android phone sales, surely Steve and Co. are at least contemplating making iPhone 5 work on Sprint and T-Mobile too.
Goodbye Home Button
On the less likely, but still potentially desirable side of the spectrum, it would be interesting to see Apple ditch the framing around the iPhone's larger display, and the tangible home button along with it. If part photos spotted by 9to5Mac are accurate, the top and bottom bezel will likely remain — in order to provide space for users to hold onto while sleuthing through Sword & Sworcery?and other apps — albeit marginally smaller.
- 9to5Mac
The removal of the iOS devices’ home buttons has been an occasional rumor that received new attention following the inclusion of yet-unimplemented gesture support in the iPad, which BGR said its sources claimed were the first step toward not just a buttonless iPad but iPhones and iPod touches, too. Yet this report appears in conflict with at least the alleged iPhone 5 part referenced above, where a home button cut-out isclearly visible. Finally, a shutter button has not been rumored to our knowledge, nor are we alleging we know of one coming to the iPhone 5. But, and despite Jobs’ known button-killing tendencies, using one of the iPhone’s small volume buttons for spur-of-the-moment photography just feels lacking. As smartphones, and the iPhone in particular, overtaking dedicated digital cameras, a dedicated shutter button could ease the transition. Let us know what you want in the next iPhone.  
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