The iPhone 5 - Apple's Savior?
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On the heels of a somewhat lackluster WWDC event and the announcement of the Surface tablet from Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), the pressure is on Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) to reignite the buzz machine around its next iPhone to swing the momentum back in its favor.
Better late than never, the world’s largest software maker (Microsoft) is stepping up its assault on Apple and the tablet market at large as consumers choose these portable devices over the once ubiquitous laptop. Based on early reviews, the new Surface tablet has raised some eyebrows as the cresting wave that is Windows 8 is almost upon us. While Apple and Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android have a solid foothold on the tablet market, Microsoft’s latest entry certainly has every one’s attention.
At a glance, the most compelling aspect of Microsoft’s new tablet might be the colorful covers that double as keyboards with integrated track pads. It’s almost unbelievable that Apple didn’t think of this first, as the early photos dominating the web this week showcase the natural evolution of this pc-killing digital device. In what will most likely end up as a brutal tablet-pricing battle between the big boys, the timing has never been better for Apple to do another end-around and prop up their next iPhone.
Now that software developers are getting their hands on Apple’s new iOS 6, more hints about the new iPhone are beginning to emerge. The rumors around the new iPhone are never really lacking; one of the more compelling leaks that has recently come to light revolves around the new Auto Layout feature that developers are being forced to use. According to one developer that TechCrunch spoke to, Auto Layout is a necessity for Apple before it can launch devices with different resolutions, which just might imply that the next generation iPhone may have a different resolution from the last.
As soon as you start talking about new resolutions for an iPhone with an eyeball-scorching retina display, the conversation usually turns to speculation around a new Apple iPhone camera lens system. A recently published patent application suggests that the new iPhone's back panel would be removable, allowing users to switch out the camera lens. Many technology insiders have suggested that a complete Apple digital bundle will not be complete without a true, dedicated camera and a high-end television set sporting a fruity logo.
As more and more video viewing, and even shooting, is being done via the iPhone, Mingchi Kuo, an analyst from KGI, believes the new iPhone will sport a 4.08-inch screen, a 16:9 aspect ratio, and a high definition, front-facing camera. In his report, Kuo also says he believes the rear-facing camera will still retain its 8-megapixel spec, but its maximum aperture will jump from 2.4 to 2.2. The new 4-inch screen seems almost certain, as sources for The Wall Street Journal bring a little more credibility to these claims. According to one of the paper's sources, Apple has been demanding larger screens from its suppliers (which include LG, Sharp, and Japan Display) to compete with Android devices.
As the iPhone 5 appears destined for a larger physical build, it starts to cloud the water, as several Apple vendors have hinted at the development of an iPad Mini as well. At what point do the iPad Mini and the larger iPhone collide? I’m not sure, but we’ll most likely find out in September according to AppleInsider.
DigiTimes reports that shipments of touch panels will be down at least 15-20 percent for Apple in the coming months while Apple prepares to transition to its next handset. These shipment slow-downs appear to hint at a September launch, yet speculation over the actual date will continue in earnest until the device actually shows up on stage.
If you're looking for even juicer rumors, how about a recorded conversation aired by TV Tokyo, in which a Foxconn recruiter said that the reason the company needed to hire 18,000 new workers was because the iPhone will be due out in June. While a June release sounds like a bit of a reach, this extra manpower at Foxconn further supports the idea of the device's late summer to early fall release.
Much as baby boomers remember exactly what they were doing when President John F. Kennedy was shot, our generation will be marked by “what were you doing when Apple’s iPhone 5 was officially announced.”
Throwing their pinstriped fedoras into the guessing pool, analysts from Piper Jaffray, an investment banking firm, proclaim that the iPhone 5 is likely due out in October. Their comprehensive research highlights the fact that the company believed to be making the iPhone's LTE 28-nanometer chip, Qualcomm (QCOM), is having supply shortages and is struggling to keep up with demand.
Apple needs the iPhone 5 launch to come sooner rather than later, as competitors from Microsoft to Google to Facebook (FB) have been lighting up the media channels with promises of new technology, new software, new partnerships, and new devices. Sure, Apple’s latest MacBook Pro launch is worthy of high praise, yet the nearly $3,000 price point for a nicely appointed model is really only targeting super-users who can justify the expense. An iPhone 5 for the masses is just what the geek doctor ordered to push Apple over the $600 per share hump.
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