It’s September, and we all know what that means: Apple will be rolling out the new iPhone, in just a few hours, in fact. But what do we know about what’s coming, and what’s just a bit more unlikely? Here’s what we know, and what we can guess.
Apple isn’t officially calling it the iPhone 5S, but that’s been the traditional naming scheme for the yearly upgrade, and it seems unlikely Apple will dump the “S” branding. Helping to confirm this name is that everybody is 100% sure that the new, budget iPhone, which is basically just a 4S with a plastic shell, will be called the iPhone 5c; it would make sense for branding purposes to keep the letters and differentiate between the two.
The Operating System
iOS 7, full stop. Mostly it’ll be interesting to finally see iOS 7 go full-tilt; while it looks and works great on the current generation hardware by all accounts, it’s likely that iOS 7 was built for the iPhone 5S, and will be that OS’ best showcase. Well, at least until the next iPad comes along, anyway.
The Screen, Battery, And Memory
We’ll see upgrades in all three of these: The screen will be sharper, the battery will last longer, and the iPhone 5S will probably be roomier for more apps and songs. Just to what extent is an open question, but Apple’s improved all of these areas at least somewhat incrementally every year, and it seems unlikely they’re going to stop, especially when they’ve got high-end competitors trying desperately to reduce their market share.
Colors, Colors, Colors
As we’ve noted elsewhere, the iPhone 5S will be coming in not just the usual white and black, but also graphite and gold, giving far too many aftermarket customers what they want. There might be other colors in the works but it seems pretty unlikely; the iPhone 5c is rumored to be coming in an absolute riot of colors and Apple probably wants to keep the flagship iPhone feeling more refined. Of course, the gold iPhone 5S is pretty much entirely for your parents and that couple at the mall with matching blowouts and a black armband for the cancellation of Jersey Shore, so “refined” is a relative term.
OK, fine, it’s not that bad. But close.
It’s been fairly consistent: As Apple has introduced a new iPhone, they’ve also introduced a new processor in the A line (the AX line is generally used with iPads.) It’s been true since the iPhone 4 and it seems likely that we’ll be seeing the arrival of the A7 with the iPhone 5.
According to rumors, it’s 31% faster, which is roughly in line with how Apple does things, and will remain dual-core. Interestingly, though, it’s supposed to be 64-bit. It’s not clear whether 64-bit will make the cut this go-round, but it’s definitely in testing.
Busy beavers hunting through iOS 7’s source code quickly found something of extreme interest: iOS 7 has the code, although not yet the tools, to read your fingerprints. By all accounts, it’ll do this by using the Home button, which will be made of sapphire not for bling purposes but because sapphire is a lot tougher than your average home button material, and thus as long as you have your iPhone 5S, that fingerprint scanner will keep working.
So why the sudden interest? Many think Apple’s big announcement this year will be jumping with both feet into the e-commerce sphere, to try and build off your iTunes account to make Apple your financial gateway for everything. Hence the rumors that it will also include an NFC chip. Honestly, we’re a little skeptical it will go quite that far; while we’re absolutely sure that Apple sees value in e-commerce, it’s been a bit hostile towards NFC and it seems unlikely they’ll want to chase after Google, especially since Google hasn’t been finding much success with Google Wallet in the real world.
No, it’s more likely that Apple will simply take the friction out of buying apps and music using biometrics, and there are rumors that each finger can be tied to specific actions, which is an intriguing, and very Apple-esque, idea.
More Toys For Your Camera
Apparently Apple has decided to go all out with video and photography. Although the camera is getting your standard megapixel bump, to 13MP, the most interesting rumors surround your camera’s accessories.
First of all, it seems likely that the iPhone 5S will have a dual flash, as it’s been seen both as part of test models, mockups, and as part of the phone’s overall parts set. This would help take out problems like red-eye without using software, and would likely help with more artistic in-camera effects and other designs. However, it’s not clear yet that this will happen… or whether camera app developers will be allowed a crack at this dual flash right off the bat. Either way, though, it should improve your snapshots.
And then there’s the rumor that the iPhone 5S will have a motion tracking chip so you can get better video. Apple doesn’t really like installing chips where the CPU can do the work, so we’re skeptical of this one, a bit. But it seems unlikely Apple isn’t going to embrace Vine, especially since it sticks it to Facebook.
That’s the iPhone 5S roundup. Oh, the date, right: Rumor has it we’ll be seeing whether all (or any) of this is true today and get our hands on it today as well, but others are saying October. Either way? Expect a new iPhone by Halloween at the absolute latest.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.