It’s that time of year again when rumors abound as to what Apple’s got up its sleeve next. September is the month in which Apple reveals its new products, although the company’s first iPad Mini debuted last October instead of September. Apple chose to create a second event a few weeks after the iPhone 5 unveiling to showcase its 8-inch tablet (the tablet’s size is 7.9 inches, placing it more in the 8-inch category than the 7-inch with Google’s Nexus 7).
There have been a number of rumors about the iPhone 5S, and I don’t expect the rumors to die down any time soon. We’ve been told that the iPhone 5S will, naturally, be a refresh of last year’s iPhone 5. In other words, we can expect a faster processor (this year we’ll see an A7 chip replace the A6 chip), a thinner and lighter body, while retaining the same 4-inch display and 8-megapixel (MP) camera. For some weeks, we had heard that Apple would put a 12 or 13MP camera into the new iPhone 5S, but recent reports seem to confirm that Apple will focus more on low-light settings and provide a dual LED flash for its current camera than to change it or increase the megapixels.
While the iPhone rumors are just starting to heat up, the iPad rumors are rolling as well. The Wall Street Journal declared in recent weeks that Apple is looking into the idea of a larger iPhone and larger iPad. Although it seems likely that Apple will stick with the same size display for the iPhone 5S as it did for the iPhone 5, this has nothing to do with the iPad. Apple could very well unveil a larger iPad with the goal of transforming the tablet into a “mobile PC” of sorts. Rumors are interesting, although many of us wish that Apple would come out and tell us what’s on its mind.
I will go into detail about other rumors in a while. At this point in time, however, I want us to look at what Apple could bring us in the iPhone 5S from the perspective of an analyst that has made true predictions about Apple and the iPhone in the past. The analyst in mind is KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo, and he has some information to provide on Apple’s September 2013 launch as he has done in the past.
KGI Securities Predictions About the iPhone 5S
Let’s start with the processor chip. Apple used an A6 chip (its very own) in the iPhone 5. The company used an A5 processor chip in the iPhone 4S, an A5X chip in the first Retina iPad (iPad 3), and an A6X processor chip in the iPad 4. If Apple used an A6 chip in the iPhone 5, Apple will certainly use an A7 processor chip in the new iPhone 5S. Since Apple often designates its iPad batteries with “X,” it is easily predictable that the iPad 5 will carry an A7X processor chip. As Apple always says, the processor will make the iPhone 5S faster in web browsing and other multitasking capabilities than the iPhone 5.
Next, the iPhone 5S will have the one rumor that everyone’s been hyped about with regard to the iPhone 5S: a fingerprint scanner. Rumors have poured in about the fingerprint scanner (how it will be placed, whether it would allow you to touch the display to scan the fingerprint or touch the home button, supposedly changed from regular glass to sapphire, to process the user’s fingerprint), but Apple recently filed a patent for a fingerprint scanner – leading us to remove the doubts that existed about this one.
Sources say that the iPhone 5S fingerprint scanner or reader will be made by way of sapphire glass and will have room at the bottom of the iPhone’s innards. To make way for the fingerprint scanner, recent photos show that Apple may indeed be moving around some parts at the bottom of the iPhone.
The iPhone 5S display will remain the same as the iPhone 5’s, at 4 inches. This was a major change for Apple, considering that the iPhone 4S and nearly every iPhone prior had a 3.5-inch display. With Android’s smartphones going bigger (now with 5.5-6-inch displays), Apple customers pressured the company into releasing a larger iPhone. They did, adding only half an inch to the display.
While there have been rumors of an iPhablet (that’s right; this is the actual term used to refer to a larger Apple iPhone) in 2014, there has been no confirmation from Apple. Instead, Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that Apple will not produce a larger iPhone right now due to compromises that Apple would have to make in producing it. Tim Cook seems to believe that the iPhone would reduce in quality if the company were to go “the way of the phablets.” It seems that, for now, Apple is happy with a 4-inch display. Considering that the Wall Street Journal has discovered Apple’s inquiry into larger screens, it seems that Apple may be willing to go with a wider display in the future. Perhaps 2014 may be the magical year. Who knows?
The iPhone 5S Camera and The Ultra HD Standard
The front camera of the iPhone 5S, the camera that is used for FaceTime HD video recording, will remain at 1.2-megapixels (or 1.2MP). The back camera looks to remain at 8MP for the iPhone 5S as it was for the iPhone 5. What many people do not know about the back camera on the iPhone is that it is what we would call today a “high HD” camera. Apple always discusses the front camera as being for “HD video recording,” but you never hear Apple discuss much about its iSight camera. Beyond telling you the megapixels, and the aperture precision, you don’t know whether the back camera is high-definition standard or not.
If you have never been told what the back camera is, let me go into more detail about the camera. According to what many consumers understand, we live in a world full of HD cameras. We know HD to be high-definition, and we understand that this means that a camera is precise and presents clear photos and images when we snap a picture with the iPhone. Lately, HD has been overcome with “ultra HD,” a step above high-definition. This means that ultra HD is better than HD because it shows even more clarity in photos than we’ve come to accept on most cameras.
What is ultra HD? It is a standard, yes, but it is one that can be seen. If you go to a retail store and ask them to view a movie or event on a “4K TV,” you will see and know what ultra HD is. It is the next step in watching movies and television, and some televisions that point to the future are already here. Well, there is another surprise about the ultra HD standard: 13MP cameras on the market, particularly those of Sony’s Xperia Z, Samsung’s Galaxy S4, and HTC’s HTC One, all contain 13MP cameras that qualify for the ultra HD standard.
According to About.com’s section on video resolution and megapixels (see last section on the link) 4K TV resolution in a camera would consist of one that has 8.5-megapixels. This means that a typical 8MP camera on a smartphone contains a high-HD resolution – although it isn’t quite ultra HD.
Take the screenshots from my Galaxy S4 Active as an example: the GS4 Active has a video resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, that qualifies as high-definition video recording. If you look at the megapixels on the device, however, the GS4 Active can record 8-megapixel photos, or a screen resolution of 3264 x 2448. If ultra HD camera resolution starts at 3840 x 2160, then 3264 x 2448 qualifies as high-HD resolution. While the second number surpasses 2160, the first does not pass the 3840 requirement. This means that my 8-megapixel camera comes close to ultra HD, but needed to be a little bigger to reach ultra HD resolution.
The start of ultra HD camera resolution is 8.5 megapixels, and the GS4 Active’s 8MP camera comes close but simply cannot beat the 13MP cameras (or what may be Sony’s soon-to-be-released 20.7MP camera) on the market. It is unfortunate, therefore, that Apple plans to add a dual LED flash but not bump up its camera resolution to the ultra HD standard. This means that, by the time Apple increases its camera to ultra HD (or 4K) resolution, the iPhone will be two years behind all Android manufacturers in producing competitive photos.
iPhone 5S to Feature Dual LED Flash (Smart Flash)
What does Apple plan to do with its rear-facing camera in the iPhone 5S? While the megapixel count remains the same, Apple intends to include a dual LED flash in the new back camera, with white and yellow lights to help with color contrasts. In the smartphone camera wars, Nokia has been winning by a landslide despite the great iPhone camera.
The Nokia Lumia 1020 has a 41MP camera, compared to the iPhone 5’s 8MP camera – and Apple cannot stand to lose in the smartphone wars. At the same time, rumors circulated for months that Apple customers could expect a 12MP camera on the next iPhone, and some Apple customers will likely express dissatisfaction with a new iPhone that bears the same camera as last year’s iPhone.
Apple is taking the approach of “fix only what’s broken,” but the truth is that even fixing the white and yellow color contrasts on the iPhone to produce brighter photos will not reach the type of photo contrast Nokia has on its Lumia 1020. For one thing, Nokia’s Lumias all have AMOLED screens, known historically to provide brighter images with better color contrasts than LCD screens. This can be seen in the following: you will likely turn up your brightness adjuster on an iPhone, whereas you may actually turn down your brightness level on an AMOLED or super AMOLED screen.
Apple is aware of the fact that its colors tend to close out more light and are darker than photos taken by competitor cameras – which explains the reason why the company is adding white and yellow lighting to its camera. As I said before, even if Apple does this, it will not compete with Nokia’s 41MP camera or Sony’s soon-to-be-announced 20.7MP camera.
Why, you ask? Because Nokia’s and Sony’s cameras provide ultra HD resolution in their photos and images. Samsung’s Galaxy S4 does not have optical image stabilization (OIS) like LG’s G2 smartphone, but it does provide ultra HD resolution images. Nokia’s cameras, on the other hand, provide more in the way of an ultra HD resolution experience than any other manufacturer on the market. We’ll have to see whether or not the iPhone’s camera experience improves later on this Fall with the new iPhone 5S.
iPhone 5S Battery
The iPhone 5 includes a 1,440mAh battery, something that I didn’t discover until recently. My iPad 3 includes a near-12,000mAh battery, providing 14 hours of continuous video and television show playback. The iPhone’s battery is much smaller in order to fit into a slim and thin device. At the same time, however, I would rather have incredible battery life than to have the thinnest and lightest device on the market. I believed that Apple would provide a larger battery in the iPhone 5S, simply because of all the new features made available in iOS 7. KGI Securities, on the other hand, believes that Apple will make the iPhone battery slightly larger, going with a 1,600mAh battery. If you ask me, Apple’s iOS 7 experience has so much more to offer consumers that I think there needs to be at least a 2,000mAh battery in the device.
When it comes to battery life, iPhone users pay a price: if one wants better battery life and a nice, sleek form factor, Apple has decided to go with the form factor while retaining a decent-performing battery. I can get a full 8 hours of battery life out of my iPhone 5, but again, it’s nothing like the 14 hours of battery life on my iPad. Things start to look even worse when you consider that the iPad 3 turns eighteen months old next month.
Apple’s site promises 10 hours of battery life on Wi-Fi, but battery life decreases over time and the iPhone 5 is nearly a year old. It is my hope that Apple increases battery life by a few hours and provides a 2,000mAh battery instead of a 1,600mAh battery. Battery life on gadgets and electronics should start to optimize to the point where 10-12 hours of battery life on a smartphone or tablet is the norm, not the exception.
iPhone 5S Colors
As usual, we have to discuss the iPhone 5S colors. Each year, it seems that the black and white model iPhones await us. Apple shook things up somewhat last year when it decided to replace the glass back of the iPhone 4S with the aluminum metal back of the iPhone 5. As a result, Apple offered the iPhone 5 in two colors: white/anodized aluminum and black/slate models. To make the white/anodized aluminum model, Apple used the same aluminum that exists in its MacBook collection.
Consumers, however, have tired of the same old model colors each year. Even though Apple added a new color to the back of the iPhone models last year, consumers want more variety and more choice. There has been much attention drawn to Apple’s rumored low-cost iPhone, known as the iPhone 5C, but recent attention has been drawn to the rumored newest color for the iPhone 5 refresh.
Sources say that Apple is looking to add a gold-color or champagne-colored iPhone with a 128GB storage option to its lineup this Fall, and this rumor has been met with both reception and rejection. Some people think the addition of a gold color will be gaudy and look silly, but Apple may be trying to provide a new color to give customers what they want.
If you ask me, I think Apple should provide numerous anodized colors for its iPhone 5S since Apple looks to provide six to eight colors for the iPhone 5C. If consumers will spend $199 up-front on a two-year contract or $692 outright for a 16GB iPhone 5S, why not provide the best experience money can buy?
The iPhone 5S will cost $199 up front with a two-year contract, or $692 for a 16GB unlocked model. 32GB and 64GB versions will cost an additional $100 and $200, respectively – whether you purchase an unlocked model or a contract model.
Are there any rumors you’ve heard that you’d like to see in Apple’s newest iPhone darling? Let us know in the comments below.