It may seem silly to theorise about the next iPhone when the latest one was only just released, but I’m a forward thinker. Apple may have delivered an exceptional device with the iPhone 5 but there are a fair few improvements that we’d all like to see in the next iteration of Apple’s flagship device.
The New Lightning Cable Isn’t Really New At All
With Apple ditching their iconic 30-pin dock connector, many are lamenting the redundancy of their vast array of accessories and cables all set to work with the previous system but not that’s not even the most depressing thing about the dock connector switch. Lightning isn’t a USB 3.0 cable. It still runs on the 12 year old 2.0 technology, meaning that data transfers from your computer to your iPhone 5 won’t be any faster than before – well, they will be thanks to the iPhone 5’s super quick A6 processor, but that has nothing to do with the all new cable.
So now that the cable has seen a major revamp, will we be getting the 3.0 upgrade in the 5S/6? Probably not. With Apple pushing iCloud and the ability to set up and transfer files via iTunes wirelessly, Apple are heading in a cable-free direction. Don’t be surprised if you see a completely wireless iPhone not too far into the future.
Long Live the Battery
On that note, there were rumours before the iPhone 5’s release that the new device would feature wireless charging. Nokia’s upcoming Lumia 920 is purported to have the feature, but the iPhone 5 doesn’t. This may be something we see in the next iPhone. Apple aren’t known for adopting new technologies right off the bat (hello, NFC?) but rather refining the existing ones to a fine honed perfection (mostly … *cough* Maps).
That isn’t to say they aren’t innovative when it comes to keeping up and outdistancing the competition. With Samsung’s Galaxy S3 running on a massive 2100 mA battery, Apple is going to have to step it up on one of their latest device’s greatest failings: battery life. It’s going to take some creative flair on Apple’s part to keep the thin in, with the charge we need too.
Apple has pulled off an impressive feat of engineering, getting their iPhone 5 20 percent lighter than their previous model and almost 16 percent lighter than their main competitor the S3, but at what cost? With the significant improvements in speed, processing power and the introduction of 4G LTE, it’s fair to assume there is a much bigger strain on the battery. Even so, it’s important for many users to get a full day or more out of their phones, an area where the competition, Motorola’s Droid Razr MAXX HD especially, is leaving Apple behind. A lot of people reject the iPhone 5 for its lightness, fearing that the airy feeling of the iPhone 5 equates to fragility (it really doesn’t, the structure of the iPhone 5 being incredibly durable). If Apple had settled for a little less lessness and a little more battery life, we could have a truly well-rounded iPhone in our hands.
But Apple will probably stick to their guns on this one. The fact that the battery life is largely unchanged from the 4S hints that Apple has found a happy battery size and they’re going to stick with it for a fair while. On the other hand, now that they’ve hit a probable plateau in design – it’s highly unlikely they’ll radically change the iPhone shape or the size from now on – working on compacting the internals should be top priority.
iPhone 5 – The Fairest of Them All?
If you’ve seen the new Apple ads, you’ll know why they’re not likely to ever offer a bigger screen size: the human thumb. The iPhone 5 has been intentionally modelled after the average user’s thumb size in what Apple calls a “dazzling display of common sense”. If you want a screen larger than 4 inches, you’ll have to go with one of the competition – the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 sports a 5.5 in screen, if big is your thing. That and the fact that Apple has the iPad Mini in the works. Why bother with a phablet sized phone when you’ve got a tablone sized tablet coming out?
It’s also pretty clear that we won’t be getting any breakthrough redesigns, the iPhone 5 having a near-identical form factor to the 4S. With all these tales of scuffing and scratching, not to mention the light-bleed problem in the white iPhone 5, we may see a new material base for the unibody but don’t count on a new shape or a revolutionary new design. I would even count out the departure of the home button, as many theorists were predicting pre-iPhone 5.. The only changes I think we’ll be getting display wise concern graphic quality. Gorilla Glass 2 and in-cell technology have brought the pixels closer to our eyes than ever before and the pictures are stunning as a result. If you thought the retina display was astounding in the original 4, then seeing its evolution in the 5 is akin to seeing for the first time. I can’t personally imagine an image being crisper, clearer or more stunning, but I’ve thought the same thing before and Apple proved me wrong.
Pictures of Food that Look Good Enough to Eat
8 MP may not sound too astounding but if you’ve looked through the iPhone 5 lens as you snap a picture of that drool-worthy pasta dish, then you’ll know just how far 8 MP can go with the right hardware and software to back it up. The colours on the 5’s camera show up amazingly bright and dynamic, but better camera’s do exist. The Lumia 920 has already proved that better low-light photos and video stabilisation is possible hinting that Apple will have to up its game in the next iPhone if it wants to keep the top spot. A camera has become a vital part of a phone and not having the best out there will dig deep into Apple’s soul and fester if not addressed immediately.
One thing we likely won’t see with the iPhone 5S/6 camera will be more shooting options. Android’s camera options include scene modes, burst mode and more. While it’d be lovely to be able to change from macro to face-detection mode on the iPhone, don’t count on it being available in the next iPhone – Apple’s proud of the camera functions it offers, but its biggest selling point is its point-and-shoot-ability – simple, no fuss, gorgeous photos. Frankly, I think we were lucky to get HDR and Panorama.
NFC – Not For Certain
Google Wallet is powered by NFC technology, but it hasn’t really taken off – remember what I said about Apple not being early adopters of new technologies? Instead, Apple has backed Passbook focusing on a mediatory approach. The biggest fear with NFC is security,an issue that would need an unshakable loyalty to Apple for consumers to overcome. Apple’s taken the ‘start small’ approach, asking you to give them access to your coupons and gift-cards, your boarding passes and your soul. No, just kidding with that last one. Chances are, if you have an iPhone, Apple already has your soul.
They’ve already started on the mobile payment track with their Easy-Pay in Apple stores so it’s not like some sort of NFC approach is out of the question. I think once Apple has engendered enough trust through Easy-Pay and Passbook, then they might think about taking the NFC plunge, assuming there isn’t a better tech-alternative they can implement by then.
Fiddly Bits and Pieces – We Want Them
Which brings me to a few final wishes. Cheaper iPhone versions – Samsung, HTC, Nokia, most all of Apple’s competition survived the storm that was the birth of the original iPhone by offering cheaper alternatives. Many Android owners will cite this as a distinct advantage over the iPhone – while their platform isn’t cheap, they do have hardware which is. Personally, I own an iPhone so I can’t argue this too effectively for myself, but I would love to get my dad one so he can learn about smartphones and the internet and dump his fax (yes, he faxes). I just can’t justify spending hundreds on a device that he will use only for the basics. Same goes for parents who want to introduce their kids to the mobile phone world. There is a huge market for cheap phones that Apple has absolutely no footing in.
Will we get one? Hmmmm …. maybe? With the jump to the 4 inch and a new iPad Mini, we might see some sort of iPhone Nano product turning up. Then again, you could just buy an older iPhone – the 4S dropped in price as soon as the 5 went on sale and I’m sure you could find retailers that’ll still have the old 3GS or 3G in stock for cheap (relatively, at least).
There are a whole heap of other features that I’d love to see in an iPhone and likely will never get. Removable storage is all but dismissed with iCloud’s growth and with Apple’s strict attention to design detail. With the durable nature of the iPhone 5 you can rule out a removable battery – removable batteries mean backing plates that come off and internals that aren’t completely secure making the phone more fragile. You also won’t be seeing anything like the homescreen with widgets popular on Android phones, not with the looming Samsung counter suits.
One upgrade is all but assured: iOS 6’s failed Maps. Apple’s gone on a hiring spree, snapping up former Google Maps workers to get their maps app up to scratch. I think we’ll also see some improvements to the notification system, hopefully with the introduction of dismissing individual notifications like in Android. Multitasking could also use a ‘Close All Apps’ option, again alá Android. iOS in general could do with a bit of a shakeup visually, even if that isn’t likely. If it ain’t broke … Although with Android claiming over half the smartphone market, it can be argued that iOS is broke, or at least not as whole as in its little-to-none competition heydays.
In all honesty though, even if Tim Cook were to read this and implement each and every change into the next iPhone I don’t think it’d be half as amazing as that first one was. The original iPhone changed the game irreversibly. Unless Apple pulls out all stops and comes out with something none of us have thought of, then they just won’t get that same ‘wow’ that relaunched the company to trillion dollar heights.
Fred Schebesta is an internet business veteran in Australia and is the Director of Finder.com.au, which was founded in 2006 launching one of Australia’s first credit card comparison websites. Finder.com.au have recently branched out to comparing savings accounts, and home loans, as well as a dedicated life insurance comparison and mobile phone comparison website.