New iPhone Rumor Roundup
by Jamie Boudreaux
Each year around this time, the tech news industry clamors for/lusts after the latest leaks and rumors about the most coveted gadget each year: the iPhone. Apple plays by its own clock with regards to its innovation; they’re as tight-lipped as possible so as not to cannibalize sales for old models and do so for the sheer spectacle of it all, really. They put on big events for product announcements and often have them available for sale the same day. In years past, Apple seemed to keep things very secretive and successfully minimized spoilers. Fast Company talked to Wilhelm Oehl, a principal designer at Apple, about what he really does at the most valuable publicly traded company in the world, and Oehl was quite vague about his work, doing his best to throw us off his scent:
“integrity of design”
“makes the product the hero”
“We try to capture something that feels like magic.”
Obviously, Oehl is on strict orders to keep ideas in-house.
Unfortunately for Apple, no matter how private they try to be, a Chinese factory worker, parts manufacturer, 3rd party accessory maker, or even an a regular bar-goer can let the cat out of the bag, which is what happened in 2010 when Gizmodo, a tech blog now BANNED from Apple events, paid $5,000 for a lost iPhone 4 disguised in an iPhone 3GS case. They take these things pretty seriously.
Fast forward to today; former Apple founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, passed away almost eleven months ago. Auburn alumnus, Tim Cook, has succeeded Jobs at the helm and is doing much more than holding the ship steady. Cook has done things Jobs never would have such as donate to charities and raise wages. Cook still intends to fulfill Jobs’s legacy and will do so with the next iteration of the iPhone, rumored to be announced September 12th with an actual launch nine days later. According to reports, Jobs worked very closely on the project and even mapped out product releases for the next four years. As the mid-September date fast approaches, rumors are piling high. The following is a rundown of what will likely be the new iPhone, including mockups and fancy renderings.
Here is the new iPhone.
Back to reality?
Okay, here’s the real hypothesis.
Names for wireless speeds are largely marketing ploys conducted by wireless carriers. Whether it’s 4G HSPA+ or 4G LTE, depending on the network, the new iPhone will likely have it. Verizon basically confirmed this one saying that they would only release 4G LTE smartphones in 2012. By the way, all those acronyms? There’s plenty of debate as to what any of that actually means and who’s actually winning the speed race.
So, I’m having to eat crow on this one. Earlier this year, I said that Apple would NEVER make an iPhone with a bigger screen. The logic I used was sound, and it seemed like something Steve Jobs agreed with and used, himself. I think he changed his mind before he died and approved of a small growth spurt for the iPhone, which will probably get an extra half of an inch in screen real estate this year. What’s so interesting about this rumor is that most believe it won’t get any wider only longer. This would actually bring it to a more standard screen resolution, the same 16:9 ratio in your HDTV.
MacRumors has put together a video of what this interface might look like:
This could just expand the screen and shrink the bezels of the device, which may keep the physical size, how of your pocket it takes up, close to current as possible. Martin ult Utrecht has put together renderings based on the most prevalent rumors out there. They’re the sexiest renderings I’ve ever seen. He’s profiled the screen size, new material makeup, and repositioned ports. Here’s his take on the screen:
Did I mention it was gorgeous?
Metal back and speaker grills
I think my least favorite modification being discussed is the metal back. I’ve always rooted for a brushed aluminum-type back, but many signs point to a two-tone design that rudely breaks things up.
I’m a huge fan of the current glass back iPhone 4/4S design and think it’s one of the most gorgeous industrial designs in the short history of consumer gadgetry. I’m sure I’ll fall in love with this two-tone once I see it in person, though. I always do.
In addition to the different back plate, it’s also rumored to have redesigned speaker grills. I know you’re wondering why you should even care about some simple, little holes, but you should! It’s an indication of big changes on the inside, where internal components will be shifted around in order to squeeze everything inside. They seem to be planning on moving the headphone jack to the bottom of the device, where they’ll tuck it next to the speakers and dock connector.
The current dock connector on all iOS products is an amazing, long-lived component. Other companies have constantly swapped the way they charge and connect their devices, while Apple has stuck with tradition for almost 10 years using the 30-pin dock connector we’ve all come to know and love. Thinning the iPhone out will necessitate a new way to power and sync it, and Apple has seemingly put quite a bit of thought into it. Don Lehman, over at The Techblock, wrote an extensive piece on designing the foolproof connector, pointing out the room for improvement for the dock connector so that a) there’s no “upside-down” for the user to fumble with and b) Apple can achieve longevity.
This really is my favorite time of the year. As a gadget aficionado, I look forward to Apple’s annual September iPhone keynote like a kid on Christmas morning.