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The Next iPhone

As with any Apple release there are a great many rumours about what the next iPhone will be. The most credible being that we’ll see something more incremental than radical.

In terms of sheer looks the most prevalent being that it will be something along the lines of the iPhone 4 and 4S. While I believe that this is a shame, Apple can create some beautiful objects, I see why Apple would do this. Hey, the MacBook Pro was the same for almost five years and the Mac Pro hasn’t been redesigned since 2003. The old idiom being “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” ringing in my ears.

Potential iPhone 5 rear.

Potential iPhone 5 rear

Problem is that for a device that I hold in my hands a lot more than I should each day will get ‘old’ and ‘stale’ very quickly. So with that being said I’d love to see an iPad mini in terms of design.

Why? The aluminium feels great in the hand, cool to the touch, doesn’t pick up finger prints anywhere near as easy and it feels quality. Compare the MacBook Pro to the now defunct plastic MacBook and you’ll see what I mean. While the glass and steel band of the 4th generation look great they aren’t that wonderful to hold for long periods of time, so a tapered backing would allow your hand to keep a lighter holding position.

We also have some rumours suggesting that the screen will increase. I think that, if true, this is the biggest change to the iPhone since, well ever, five versions have come and gone with the same screen size of 3.5″.

I yearn for a bigger screened iPhone, having used Android devices with displays all the way up to 5″ I can attest to bigger being better. For me the ‘perfect’ size would be something in the range of 4″-4.3″. I currently use a Galaxy Nexus and while the HD display at 4.65″ is beautiful and allows me to see a lot of information in one fell swoop, as a device sometimes I feel it is a little too big. My Nexus S of early last year had a display of 4″ and that felt around the right kind of size.

Size comparison with iPhone 4/4S - Mockup by Adam Johnston.

Size comparison with iPhone 4/4S – Mockup by Adam Johnston.

So, for a display to be bigger it also needs to have a new aspect ratio. Why this is true is that if you merely enlarge the display along the current axis you will merely be making things larger and not actually create room for more information. Take TVs as an example. From 17″ all the way to 70″, sharing the aspect ratio of 16:9 means that you will always only be able to display the same information. For certain applications you would see more but nothing along the lines of changing the aspect ratio.

A while back Modilwar, of The Verge forums, created this thread and highlights many excellent points.

The main interaction elements will stay the same size and yet you will still be able to view more of whatever it is you’re interacting with. If Apple did this route it would cause less stress for developers, all graphics will be the same as they were, if the aspect ratio stayed the same a lot of elements would have to be redrawn to keep them the same physical size. Of course I’m talking about keeping the width of the display the same as it is now and merely extending the height of the display.

Did you watch V for Vendetta? The devices they had in that film were awesome. The closest real world approximation would be the LG Chocolate BL40. It’s obscene 21:9 ratio display was awkwardly long and narrow but something on it’s way to that would be ace for the new iPhone. Especially if Apple worked a little magic and made the whole phone thinner.

With the advent of the third generation of iPod Apple introduced the dock-connector. A proprietary port on the bottom of the device. Since then all but the iPod Shuffle have had this connection. With the first generation of iPod Nano they removed the ability to use a FireWire cable for syncing. As technology has advanced this connector has stayed the same size. Lauded for it’s staple inclusion a mammoth third-party market has sprung up. Allowing anyone with an iDevice to easily dock their phone with a speaker, or a charger, or even your car has been great. If rumours are to be believed then Apple will be making this connector smaller. Or even doing away with it altogether. Wait I hear you cry. This is the most important part of the whole eco-system of hardware. Well, yes, I agree. But now that Apple has included AirPlay and Wi-fi syncing I decry that this large and cumbersome peripheral slot has become obsolete. It would allow for smaller devices….. and maybe ones with a bigger battery with the space saved.

In terms of the guts of the device I guess we can have a look at the iPad and gain some insight.

I foretell that the new iPhone will not gain the new iPad’s A5X but is more likely to use the smaller die-process of the updated iPad 2. Doing this will gain more internal space, save power and in my opinion uses a chip more suited for the iPhone. The A5 is now slouch and the iPhone won’t, at least not yet, need the graphics oomph of the A5X. For simplicity lets throw in 1GB of RAM, not necessarily needed but helps with future-proofing, as much as you can anyway. Other behind the scenes updates will likely occur, I don’t see wireless 802.11 ac yet, but do believe that this will be a world phone with LTE for the US market being the very minimum is terms of cellular technology.

The camera will get upgraded optics, Apple haven’t played the megapixel race and I don’t seem them doing so now. We will get updated lens and maybe a better f-stop but the big update in this department came last year with the 4S.

I think that just about rounds out the hardware features that we can expect in the next iPhone.

Oh, I almost forgot, I want a Barometer for localised weather data.

Part two of this article will contain my thoughts and grumbles surrounding iOS.

It would be great if you could let us know what you think will/won’t be in there. Do you agree with me?

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