In 18 hours' time, bloggers and other illegitimate journalists will be scrambling into Cupertino for the latest wankbank over shiny devices.
To date, there has been no hard evidence over any purported "iPhone 5" - pretty much everything that's been leaked or surreptitiously photographed to date is of the "iPhone 4S" - which will be to the iPhone 4 what the iPhone 3GS was to the iPhone 3G (which was actually the second iPhone model to be released).
There have been recent reports that the iPhone 5 has a 4" screen size and has a "teardrop" cross-section design, but they hold limited veracity. That said, it does make sense for "iPhone 4 + 1" to match the aesthetic of the iPad 2, which doesn't match the design currently on the iPhone 4, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Apple ditch the external antennae used, so it's a toss up.
What I don't like about the "iPhone 4S" concept is that the name doesn't make sense. The iPhone 3GS was so-called because calling it the "iPhone 3" would cause confusion when compared to the "iPhone 3G" (which was the second iPhone to be released), but there's no sense in calling the fifth iPhone the "4S". Apple is known for being (relatively) straightforward in their product nomenclature and I'm sure none of us want a return to the old Performa/LC days of the mid-1990s.
And as I'm writing this, there's talk of the iPhone 3GS being kept along as a new sub-offering to be given away for free, with the iPhone 4 as the new 'cheap' offering, and the iPhone 4S as the flagship model.
Here's what I see happening tomorrow:
- "iPhone 5" rumours proven wrong: there will be no such model
- The iPhone 4S will be unveiled: it will resemble the iPhone 4 CDMA edition but feature dual-mode hardware that means it can connect to both CDMA and GSM networks. It will be available in 32, and 64GB capacities.
- The iPhone 4 will be the new budget offering with 8 and 16GB capacity.
- iPhone 3GS discontinued, but carriers will probably keep the iPhone 3GS around as an even cheaper offering, much to Apple's chagrin (Apple is now in Microsoft's shoes in that it is not only competing with market rivals, but also with itself: older products are "good enough" for 90% of punters' needs).
What follows below is a possible alternative scenario:
- iPhone 5 is real, has a new design that resembles the design of the iPad 2 (metallic back with tapered sides), the same thickness as the iPad 2, too. The cross-section might not necessarily be teardrop, but it will be sloping in some way, similar to the iPhone 3G/3GS. It will be available in 16, 32, and 64GB capacity.
- The iPhone 4S is the new budget offering, only available in an 8GB capacity.
- iPhone 4 and 3GS discontinued
As for tech specs, I'm willing to bet whatever the new iPhone is (5 or 4S) it will have the Apple A5 SoC and other specifications (RAM, etc) as the iPad 2 - in fact the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S/5 will be pretty much identical except for the size of the screen - by using more common parts it reduces costs.
I'm also sure a model will have a 64GB capacity: everyone expected it on the iPhone 4 (as each subsequent release until then had doubled the capacity: 8GB in the original, 16GB in the 3G, 32GB in the 3GS) - for many people 64GB is the "magic" amount of capacity that ensures their entire music collection can be stored locally (I'm unfortunate in that my MP3s total over 80GB, oh well). I note that flash storage capacity has not effectively doubled every 18 months as expected: otherwise we'd see a 128GB offering in the iPhone this year, but even today 128GB drives for desktops are prohibitively expensive (and with questionable reliability too). I don't think we'll see a 128GB iPhone for at least another two years from now.
Other speculation I'm going to bet on:
- Apple discontinuing the iPod Classic - dedicated MP3 players that do nothing else went out of fashion as smartphones-for-the-masses became popularised around 2008. I see a 128GB iPod Touch being introduced to replace it.
- I also expect the iPod Shuffle to be killed off too: the screenless unit was an interesting technology sideshow, and the UX concept does work for small numbers of songs which made sense when its original capacity was only 512MB. Now it has the same form-factor as the iPod Nano, except with smaller capacities and no screen. I expect the Nano's price will be reduced to make up for this.
- There is speculation Apple might add 3G support to the iPod Touch, effectively turning it into an "iPad Nano" - whilst plausible, I don't see it happening: it would come at the expense of the unit's thin-as-it-is form-factor and battery life - and if you want 3G support why not just get an iPhone? There's also the problems relating to carrier deals and even chipset and antennae support. I don't see it happening.
As for Mr. Jobs: I'm sad to hear he's not doing too well - I do not expect him to make any kind of official appearance, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him trying to be incognito in the audience. I don't think Tim Cook will have the same reality-distortion-field around him that Steve has, though it's all in the content of the presentation package and how you deliver it - I've never really sat through any of his presentations, but I hope he can orate well.