It’s that time of year again: Apple is about to unveil a next-generation iPhone. A sixth revision to the world’s most beloved phone that just turned five is up for an announcement tomorrow at a media event in San Francisco. The last iPhone with Steve Jobs’s seal of approval arrives at an interesting time for Apple.
Earlier in the year, rival Samsung crushed both Apple and the embattled Finnish giant Nokia to become the world’s largest cell phone and smartphone maker by volume. The South Korea-based conglomerate’s flagship Galaxy S III handset has even managed to overtake the iPhone to become America’s best-selling smartphone in August.
With such massive pent up demand for the iPhone 5, a misstep of any kind would cost Apple dearly: the company owes nearly 70 percent of its fortunes to the iPhone. The iPhone biz is now worth more than all of Microsoft. And because the iconic smartphone is that huge, it poses a major litigation risk.
The iPhone 5 also marks a major test for Cupertino as customers will once again vote with their wallet and get to prove whether or not the iPhone has run its course…
Talk about fall reboot.
September kicked off with smartphone and tablet launches by rival Googlerola, Microkia and Amazon. But tomorrow, Apple will suck the media oxygen out of the air with a high-profile introduction of its long-expected iPhone 5, a sixth revision. In addition, the company could as well refresh its iPod, iMac and wireless base station lineups.
You must be juiced up about tomorrow’s presser as we are, if not more. Of course, avid readers already know that the next iPhone will have 4G LTE, be thinner and the screen bigger because “that’s what the blogs are saying”.
But there’s much more to the iPhone 5 than a bigger screen or a slimmer body.
Apple’s press invitation with a “5” lurking in the shadow caused quite a stir.
Production has been in full swing for weeks, with Foxconn pulling kids out of school to build your iPhone 5. A brave kid, if you believe the Interwebs, has even managed to smuggle an iPhone 5 out of the factory.
If your frequent iDownloadBlog (iDB) regularly, stories about Apple’s biggest iPhone launch yet have gradually gotten you up to speed. It is now high time we revisit the most credible stories and take it all in as the iPhone 5 comes into full view.
Here’s what we think we know so far about the iPhone 5, or whatever Apple’s calling it.
What’s in a name?
Apparently a lot! Tech lovers have been agonizing over the next iPhone’s name quite a bit. One camp thinks it’s gonna be marketed under the “iPhone 5” moniker, with the other speculating Apple might drop its naming scheme in favor of “the new iPhone”.
“The iPhone 5” or just “the new iPhone”, the question is now…
On the other hand, just because the company has done so with the third-generation iPad doesn’t mean it’s gonna drop the numerical suffix for the most visible product in its portfolio. A cell phone is our most intimate gadget, a personality statement if you will.
Be that as it may, I’m guessing you’d prefer telling friends you just bought an “iPhone 5”, as opposed to the “new iPhone”, a “2012 iPhone”, the “latest iPhone” and some such.
The bottom line: who the heck cares about the next iPhone’s moniker.
• How Apple names things
• Poll: what should Apple call the next iPhone?
• Here’s why Apple may call it the iPhone 5
• Apple secures ownership of the iPhone5.com domain name
• Does Epic Games have an iPhone 5?
• iPhone 5 demand is off the charts, data says
• Partially assembled next-gen iPhone appears on video
• 3 reasons to get excited about this year’s iPhone
• Why Apple could sell more than 50 million iPhones this holiday season
It’s got the look
Everybody and their mother in Asia has intel pointing to the iPhone 5 being a rehash of the iPhone 4/4S design rather than a total revamp. Essentially taking cues from the original iPhone’s back metal appearance, it’s gonna have that trademark stainless steel band running around the edges of the device to provide structural support to its Unibody chassis, doubling as the wireless and cellular antenna.
The most visible design change is a metallic backplate.
The front of its taller but not wider case is dominated by an elongated screen, based on a new display technology. The familiar home button is still there, as are the sleep/wake button, the volume buttons and the mute switch, right there where you’d expect them.
Just don’t look for the headphone jack at the top because it’s been moved to the bottom, next to a smaller dock connector. A SIM card tray is even smaller in this iPhone incarnation and now accommodates miniaturized Nano SIM cards.
Two-tone is the new teardrop
Remember the teardrop-shaped iPhone meme from last year? It ain’t happening this year either. Rumored at just 7.4 mm, versus the iPhone 4S at 9.3 mm, your next iPhone will feel noticeably thinner. For better or worse, its back glass got replaced with a solid metallic plate sandwiched between the two glass stripes at the top and bottom.
That’s what the rumor-mill thought a 2011 iPhone would have looked like.
The two-tone design is arguably the most controversial and it’s easy to see why: after all, we all want our friends to notice that we’ve upgraded. But then again, why change the proven formula?
iLounge first mentioned a new miniaturized dock connector and partial metal backplate on May 3, with 9to5Mac following up on May 29 with an image of an aluminum-clad backplate. The publication said it matches the iPhones being tested internally at the time, also adding that the headphone jack was being moved to the bottom of the phone.
Engineering samples that leaked on June 10 solidified the theory. Later in the month, Macotakara speculated from a leaked front glass that the handset could be 10mm taller and published a video to prove it. Then design schematic leaked, corroborating previous findings and also revealing the repositioned hole for FaceTime cam.
The iPhone’s two-tone design has set the tongues wagging.
iMore pretty much killed any hope of last-minute makeover, with its sources describing the next iPhone as being “almost identical in design to the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S”.
The only major visible differences?
Its four-inch elongated display with a near 16:9 aspect ratio, a metallic plate across most of the back, a smallish dock connector and relocated 3.5mm headset jack along the bottom.
• Poll: do you like the two-tone iPhone 5 design?
• Thinness: The iPhone 5 versus iPhone 4
• Depicting the thinness of the iPhone 5
• The next iPhone could be 7.6mm thin
• Thoughts on the 4-inch iPhone theory
• Making the case for a four-inch iPhone with 16:9 display
• iPhone 5 case molds emerge, indicating thinner design
• Claimed iPhone 5 engineering samples surface
• Apple extends deal with Liquidmetal for another two years
• The next iPhone to have redesigned unibody case
• Next-gen iPhone home buttons hit the web
Nano SIM debuts on the iPhone 5
Following a period of back and forth between Apple on one side and Motorola, RIM and Nokia on the other, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute on June 1 accepted Apple’s proposal for a 40 percent smaller SIM card, dubbed Nano SIM. It’s been designed to enable thinner designs of mobile devices, where space is at premium.
In July, European carriers began stockpiling and testing Nano SIMs in partnership with Apple. NowhereElse on August 6 leaked a Nano SIM tray thought to belong to the iPhone 5. On August 15, Cydia Blog posted a nice video depicting the upcoming Nano SIM tray on the leaked iPhone 5 assembly.
Per iFun, T-Mobile USA began distributing Nano SIMs to retail channel, writing in a note that the smaller SIM cards are meant “for the latest generation of smartphones that come in the near future on the market”.
• Vodafone Germany has Nano SIMs in stock, too
• Conveniently, T-Mobile begins distributing Nano SIMs to retailers
• Video: the iPhone 5 Nano SIM tray
• Motorola and RIM submit a Nano SIM compromise
• Apple’s modified Nano SIM gets a showing off ahead of the final vote
• RIM accuses Apple of dirty tricks as ETSI postpones vote on Nano SIM
• Nokia threatens not to license essential Nano SIM patents
• Apple granted Nano SIM-related patent that Nokia is “not aware” of
• If approved, Apple will license its Nano SIM to others royalty-free
• Nokia says Apple’s Nano SIM card proposal is no good
• Apple imposing Nano SIM standard on Motorola, RIM and Nokia
Shrunken dock connector
With the next iPhone, Apple is keen on replacing a decade-old 30-pin dock connector with a much smaller, simpler and speedier I/O. Don’t worry, though, Apple should provide adapters that will let your iPhone 5 work with many of the accessories designed for the old 30-pin dock connector.
Additionally, this smaller dock connector is expected to be rolled out across all upcoming iOS devices, though supply issues could delay third-party accessories (like these) that are compatible with the new connector until after Christmas.
iMore was first to report on the smaller dock connector back in February. Ditching the 30-pin dock connector in favor of a smaller one was explained as Apple’s way of saving space inside the iPhone 5 for more important components.
A full-on image posted by NowhereElse the following day revealed a metal ring around the connecting dock integrated to the frame of the phone, suggesting MagSafe-like functionality. Two days later, the publication posted a bunch of additional close ups of the smaller dock connector.
Repair shop iResQ posted shots of an internal dock connector component on August 17, releasing photos of the dock assembly fitted in the rear shell three days later. On August 13, AppleInsider chimed in with claims of orientation independence and improved transfers rates for the new dock connector.
And if iLounge is right, Apple will exclusively sell the new dock connector adapters priced at ten bucks a piece, or $29 for a three-pack. Apple’s own sync cable is said to cost $19. Selling a hundred million of those could easily net Apple a cool $100 million in adapter revenue.
• Apple granted patent for smaller charging port
• Apple granted patent for inductive charging dock for iOS devices
• Apple to roll out smaller dock connector to all iOS products this fall
• Photos of the iPhone 5 dock assembly fitted in rear shell
• Purported shots of Apple’s smaller dock connector
• iLounge: iPhone 5 to sport smaller dock connector
• iPhone 5 backplate leaks with smaller dock connector
• Purported accessories for next-gen iPhone leaked
• Concept drawing of Apple’s smaller dock connector
• Double-dock iPad prototype pops up on eBay
Relocated headphone jack (and new headphones)
Much to the horror of those that like to keep their iPhone straight up in their pocket or listen to music and typing away while lying in their bed, Apple’s moved the 3.5mm headphone jack from the top to the bottom, where the smaller dock connector sits (future iPads, too!).
Word on the street is that such a change is required because Apple’s 30-to-9 pin dock adapter plugs into both the headphone jack and the dock connector in order to provide backwards compatibility with audio and data accessories designed for the old 30-pin dock connector.
Plugging in your headphones from the bottom will take some getting used to.
Of course, iPod touch owners needn’t adapt as they’re already getting used to plugging their headset into a 3.5mm hole at the bottom right corner. We’re also hearing the iPhone will ship with Apple’s revamped in-ear buds, seen below.
Apple’s redesigned in-ear buds look like a space-age headphones?
Here’s to hoping that the new earbuds sound better and fit more comfortably in your ear. And if this April patent filing is anything to go by, the new seamless headphones are ultrasonically welded such that the “welding produces an unpolished welded structure”. As for the speakers, expect them to be louder and of a higher quality than the current iPhone.
Longer display, new assembly technique
Recognizing market trends, Apple will for the first time since the original iPhone increase the display from 3.5 inches to four inches diagonally (iPod touch, too!). The larger canvas means more pixels and more pixels will allow for crisper and larger photos, additional tweets in your Twitter client, more lines of text in electronic books, more maps and more of the web in Safari.
The next iPhone could be 10mm (0.39 inches) longer versus prior iPhones.
Put simply, you will see more content in your apps and media, meaning less scrolling and a better user experience. Pixel density won’t change so it’ll qualify as Retina. I guess Samsung will nonetheless find a way to paint the four-inch display as too small compared to its jumbo-sized phablets and phones.
Additionally, iOS 6 was found to be scalable for taller displays. The software should use extra pixels to render a fifth row of icons, and new SDK features will help developers adapt existing apps to take advantage of a larger canvas to display more content.
Longer, but not wider
iLounge on May 3 mentioned a longer display, with both WSJ and Reuters following up with May 16 reports, claiming that the new screens that measure four inches from corner to corner (30 percent bigger than current iPhones) were going into production the following month.
The iPhone 5 should have an elongated though not wider display.
On May 22, 9to5Mac explained the device won’t be wider as the display is blown up only vertically to a resolution of 1,136-by-640 pixels, marking a change of the aspect ratio for the first time since the original iPhone. The publication in a separate report leaked some parts indicating the next iPod touch might also adopt a taller display.
Compared to its predecessor, the next iPhone is longer, thinner and of the same width.
Thinner and lighter in-cell assembly
DigiTimes first reported on April 20 that Apple will tap in-cell technology from Sharp and Toshiba Mobile Display that embeds the touch sensors inside the liquid crystal display to allow for a thinner, lighter and battery-friendlier display.
In-cell touch panels could trim the iPhone’s display by at least 0.4mm by removing the separate touch sensor layer and one layer of adhesive.
Taipei Times reported on May 21 that Sony was also tapped as a provider of in-cell panels, and WSJ on July 17 added LG Display on the list. On August 22, sources told Reuters that LG Display began mass producing in-cell panels for the iPhone 5.
• Poll: should the next iPhone have a bigger screen?
• Another simulation of apps on a taller iPhone
• In-cell tech could cause next-gen iPhone supply shortages
• LG begins mass-producing thinner displays ahead of the iPhone 5
• Look how thin the iPhone 5 will be compared to your old iPhone
• How apps might look like on a taller iPhone
• Apple awarded patent for in-cell display technology
• A backgrounder on in-cell display technology
• Why Apple would want to make the iPhone’s screen bigger
• Images of the complete iPhone 5 front panel surface
• The entire iPhone 5 front assembly pictured
• Video depicts 0.1mm thinner, more scratch resistance iPhone 5 front panel
• Sharp confirms display shipments for iPhone 5
• Why developers aren’t worried about a taller iPhone
• Mockups show how apps would benefit from a 4-inch iPhone
Marginal camera improvements
The camera system is the biggest unknown, but expect enhancements in light of other hardware bump ups across the board. Apple’s supplier OmniVision in March introduced crazy new sensors capable of taking 16-megapixel photos and shooting 4K video. I wouldn’t put my hope into these making an appearance on this year’s iPhone.
The first-ever slimmed rear camera of all iPhones has a thinner assembly, with the blue glass filter moved to the camera module itself.
On May 6, an analyst speculated that the new cameras will be re-engineered with thinness and sharpness in mind, which includes increasing aperture on the back. For the front-facing camera Apple is said to adopt flip-chip packing for a thinner assembly and simplified lens production by moving the blue glass filter to the camera module itself.
Finally FaceTime HD?
Leaked schematic and parts pointed to a FaceTime camera being relocated to the center, right above the earpiece, thus allowing for a better video calling experience. Per supply chain sources, the sensor out the front is high-definition, allowing for crisper FaceTime calls. Certainly with the handset’s elongated display changing the aspect ratio from 4:3 to possibly 16:9, an enhanced front camera is a must.
FaceTime camera on the front is now centered and allegedly upgraded to high-def.
No iSight megapixel boost?
Instead of adding megapixels, Apple is thought to have re-engineered the back camera module in order to fit inside the iPhone’s thinner case. The iPhone 4S has easily the best eight-megapixel module of any smartphone and we wouldn’t rule out a higher-resolution module on the next iPhone, though chances are slim due to space constraints.
On the other hand, we have to consider the latest Sony Xperia smartphones with awesome 13-megapixel Sony cameras, sixteen or more megapixel sensors on Samsung’s Galaxy Camera, incoming Android-driven digital cameras from Nikon plus other advancements in this space. Perhaps Sony will once more supply Apple with its latest and greatest cell phone camera sensors?
To make a thinner iSight on the back, Apple likely upped aperture from f/2.4 to f/2.2.
It’s difficult to speculate whether Apple’s engineers have managed to squeeze an advanced camera module into the iPhone’s slimmer body, but it’s certainly indicative that literally no usable bit of information surfaced concerning the camera subsystem.
We’re also wondering whether a little opening between the LED flash and camera lens on the leaked backplate is for a new sensor to help improve photo-taking capabilities.
At any rate, Apple’s engineers probably thought of clever ways to redesign the iPhone’s camera system with space constraints in mind. At the end of the day, most of the innovations in the iPhone 5 camera will be in software, with new features based on the sped up processor.
• Apple researching a device with swappable camera lenses
• Apple researching iSight cameras with 3D imaging and facial gestures recognition
• Patent details facial recognition for iOS devices
• The next iPhone camera could help share data securely with Macs
• How the iPhone’s camera has improved over the years
• Beautiful concept of an iPhone camera
• Nokia fakes the PureView camera ad
• Video: the iPhone 5 versus the iPhone 4/4S glass panel
The speedier CPU: just don’t call it A6
With 4G LTE speeds and more pixels to drive, this year’s iPhone is expected to run an improved version of the A5X chip optimized for low-power performance. The speedier processor and twice the RAM should help the next iPhone retain buttery-smooth performance that the iPhones are known for. Unfortunately, we don’t know an iota about the graphics subsystem.
9to5Mac on April 9 reported that internal iPhone prototypes (spotted in server logs, in Bangkok and elsewhere) run a variant of the A5X chip with 1GB of RAM, twice as much as the iPhone 4/4S. The publication shed more light on the matter on May 31, mentioning a dual-core ARM S5L8950X low power CPU core, likely fabbed on Samsung’s 32nm process.
Apple’s next-generation quad-core A6 chip is expected to debut inside 2013 iOS devices.
The report also mentions “something entirely new” on the GPU side, the unreleased SGX543RC unit. French blog NowhereElse on August 30 leaked the logic board which shows the A6 chip, thought to employ four CPU cores.
And unlike past iPhones, this sixth-gen model is said to drop Audience’s EarSmart noise-reduction technology, according to Audience itself. Siri relies on noise filtering heavily so we wonder how this change might affect Apple’s digital secretary. Knowing Audience provides the best noise-cancellation technology the money can buy, Apple must have way better solution of its own.
Bigger battery to drive LTE and taller display
A taller iPhone 5 chassis has enabled Apple’s engineers to fit a larger battery inside, a must considering the handset’s blown up display that has more pixels and LTE radios, two biggest battery killers. On the other hand, advancements in low-powered processors and LTE chipsets will help offset the consumption of the larger display and additional features.
The iPhone 5 needs a longer-lasting battery to deliver new features without taxing the overall run time. We think the iPhone 5 run time will meet or perhaps slightly exceed that of the iPhone 4S. At any rate, it would be a surprise if the next iPhone falls short in battery tests compared to its predecessor.
Supply chain sources told an analyst on June 28 that Cupertino was facing “a battery challenge”, with only 30 percent of the battery volumes produced by an unnamed vendor meeting Apple’s standards. Sonny Dickson on August 10 published a photo of the phone’s battery made back in June and rated at 1440 mAh, up from the 1430 mAh model found in the 4S. It also has a higher voltage.
iPatchiPods rates the battery as 3.8V and 5.45Whr versus the iPhone 4′s 3.7V and 5.25Whr.
More shots of the battery surfaced on September 4 by way of a repair shop, perfectly fitting inside the leaked device assembly. The battery is slightly less than half an inch taller compared to the iPhone 4S, while the thickness appears to be identical.
The first iPhone with 4G LTE
Fourth-generation Long-Term Evolution (LTE) radio technology for speedy cellular data has been taken for granted since first iPhone 5 rumors popped up last summer. If you’re wondering why Apple is late to the LTE party, remember that the company is never first out of the gate with support for the latest cellular technologies.
With commercial LTE deployment expected to end in key world markets by the end of 2013, Apple with the iPhone 4/4S has chosen to employ waiting tactics. The technology is now mature enough, it’s approached critical mass and latest 4G chips aren’t power hogs like first-generation silicon used to be.
AnandTech thinks the next iPhone will use Qualcom’s MDM 9×25 baseband chip for world-phone 4G LTE compatibility.
Last week, WSJ confirmed the iPhone’s LTE is all but compatible with the majority of the world’s carriers, though not all (we’re looking at you, South Korea). And with support for the full range of LTE frequencies, the next iPhone should virtually work anywhere there’s LTE.
• Poll: is the next iPhone going to be world-phone LTE compatible?
• Does the iPhone 5 support numerous LTE bands?
• LTE iPhone could be a game changer, especially for Verizon
• Study shows nearly 50% of US consumers don’t care about LTE
• Analyst: the next iPhone will be a true world phone
• iPhone 5 said to tap Broadcom BCM4330 chip for wireless file sharing with Macs
• Despite Qualcomm chip shortages, the iPhone 5 will have LTE
• The iPhone 5 to run new Qualcomm LTE chip
• iOS 5.1 confirms that Apple is working on a 4G capable iPhone
• Verizon’s LTE network now available in over 300 markets
NFC: a one more thing?
NFC, you say?
Not gonna happen this year.
Google’s tried NFC thing with the Wallet service, carriers are at it, but nobody’s cracked it yet. When the market takes off and there’s enough demand, Apple will come out with its own solution and certainly help mainstream mobile payments.
NFC being in its infancy, maybe Apple will support it with next year’s iPhone?
Of course, Apple has loads of patents related to digital wallet, including the massive iWallet patent and the iWallet shopping app patent. The company also scored another patent that combines NFC and Passbook in ways more than one.
On top of that, Apple is thought to be developing an iPay service that could tap the 400+ million iTunes accounts with credit cards. At least we know from these patent filings that Apple’s researching an NFC iPhone.
And if you believe Phil Schiller, Apple’s SVP of Worldwide Marketing, Passbook is not meant to become a full-blown mobile payment solution. He furthermore said that so-called digital wallet mobile-payment services are “all fighting over their piece of the pie”, adding that “we aren’t doing that”.
So, no NFC in this year’s iPhone for you.
• Poll: what’s this square thing inside the iPhone 5 for?
• Why an NFC-enabled iPhone 5 matters
• New report rules out NFC for next-gen iPhone
• Claimed iPhone 5 parts reveal possible NFC chip
• NFC seen coming to the next iPhone
• Apple scores iTravel patent featuring NFC and Passbook integration
• Apple thought to be working on iPay
• Apple granted iWallet shopping app patent
• Apple granted key patent for iWallet service
iOS 6 with Apple Maps, better Siri and more
The iPhone has from the onset been (mostly) software. With the iPhone 5, Apple is launching iOS 6, an evolutionary update that delivers a host of improvements, even if it’s not as massive an update as iOS 5.
Headline capabilities include enhanced Siri featuring expanded POIs, Eyes Free in-car integration, support for movies with Rotten Tomato reviews, Yelp check-ins, restaurants reviews and sports scores. Thanks to Apple’s own Maps (take that, Google!), your iPhone will finally become a true GPS navigation device with turn-by-turn directions.
Facebook (like us!) is integrated throughout iOS 6 for easy status updates (even from Notification Center) and sharing of photos, URLs and other items. It also integrates with your address book and contacts to automatically add Facebook Events to your calendar and update your friends’ phone numbers, email addresses and contact images.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, iOS 6 drops the stock YouTube app because “our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended”. You feared the removal would be a pain in the you-know-what, but Google jumped to the rescue with a brand new native iOS YouTube app.
Here’s Jeff’s video walkthrough.
Cody has more on how it stacks up against the stock app it’s replacing.
Another overlooked iOS 6 feature: Passbook, a new app that stores digital coupons, airline tickets, loyalty cards and stuff like that. Virgin Australia, as well as Delta and American Airlines, are in the process of implementing Passbook support.
Presumably, other airlines and points of sale will gradually roll out Passbook support as well. It couldn’t be easier and just works, per Apple’s usability mantra: iOS 6 automatically picks up digital coupons, cards, boarding passes and what not on web sites and from email messages and import them into the Passbook app.
Here’s a nice simulation of Passbook shopping.
Your boarding pass then automatically pops up upon arrival at the airport. The system can even update the ticket when your flight changes and push an alert to your home screen.
It goes without saying that iOS 6 could easily contain dozens of little gems discoverable over time, like Bluetooth sharing menu item, AirPlay Direct, FaceTime over cellular, WiFi Plus Cellular data sync, better Mail with VIP inbox, a useful Do Not Disturb mode for notifications, accessibility and Safari improvements, remodeled stores, the new Podcasts app, enhancements for Chinese users, new Emojis, Government Alerts and more.
Smart App Banners in Safari pop up when there’s a native app experience available.
And don’t you think iOS lacks other tidbits, like setting a song for your alarm, a new Clock app for the iPad or subtle and obvious design changes. All told, changes in iOS 6 are evident in all apps across the board.
Regardless of your feelings or your own iOS wishlist, all of the aforementioned improvements add up to the smooth Apple experience overall.
The Themes app, kinda the only viable reason people go Android or jailbreak.
Not all features are supported across all iOS devices (though most are). You may wanna check out iDB’s compatibility matrix for more on this. As a rule of thumb, if you own a 2011 iOS device, you should be on the safe side.
There’s always a possibility of a headline iOS feature being revealed tomorrow (how about simpler sharing?), but we think chances of that are slim.
Our complete iOS 6 coverage is available here.
• Poll: is iOS 6 everything you hoped for?
• Poll: how often do you use the stock iOS YouTube app?
• WWDC keynote roundup: What Apple introduced today
• Poll: which WWDC announcement are you most excited about?
iCloud for worry-free syncing
In addition to hardware and software, iCloud has quickly become a crucial component of an Apple device experience. iCloud binds your Apple devices together. Integrated deeply into the bowels of Apple’s desktop and mobile operating system, iCloud lets you re-download purchased content as many times as you like.
iCloud also backs up your devices when they’re plugged in and on WiFi, keeps your contacts, calendars, settings and app data in perfect sync, automatically pushes photos taken on one gadget to all authorized devices and much more.
There have been few, if any, leaks related to iCloud, which isn’t to say we’re not expecting some pleasant surprises on the cloud computing front. Take iTunes Match, which can now finally stream or download songs, depending on your choosing.
Or, Shared Photo Streams, a new way to share, privately or publicly, images on your device with other iOS 6 users, as demonstrated in Jeff’s video right below.
Granted, developing iCloud-friendly apps ain’t easy. However, Apple’s built a robust cloud computing platform here and we expect lots more developers to soon update their warez with deep iCloud integration.
And if anyone can explain a complex cloud service to ordinary Joes, it’s gotta be Apple, the world’s greatest marketing machine.
I can never get enough of this ad.
It just blows my mind how effective the commercial is at illustrating iCloud uses in layman’s terms.
Price and availability
Isn’t it high time you sold your old iPhone?
Pre-orders should start this Friday, September 14. We’re expecting the same $199/$299/$399 price points for the 16/32/64GB iPhone 5, with a two-year contract.
The speedier, taller iPhone 5 will run your iOS 6 and apps smoothly.
If history is an indication, the unlocked device won’t be readily available from day one, unlike in certain oversea markets where carriers are legally bound to offer unlocked alongside subsidized devices (i.e. Germany, Italy, Switzerland and so forth).
Meanwhile, the iPhone 3GS availability is dwindling, telling us Apple might drop the three-year old handset and replace it with the 8GB iPhone 4S as a new entry-level option. Per conventional wisdom, the iPhone 5 will launch simultaneously in the U.S. on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. Unfortunately, all checks indicate that T-Mobile won’t be getting the device this year.
It’s worth a mention that Sprint’s training manual hints at an October 15 event. We don’t know if this internal training is iPhone 5-related, though the timing is certainly peculiar. That said, we’d be shocked if the iPhone 5 launched exclusively on AT&T and Verizon on September 21, arriving on Sprint nearly a month later.
At any rate, we’re glad stuff like this is a thing of the past.
Now, reps at all major carriers have lately been pushing Android devices over iPhones like crazy. Don’t blame telcos: they’re simply trying to sell as much higher-value 4G data plans as possible.
We will see whether carriers will push 4G-enabled iPhones as aggressively as they’re promoting 4G Android devices. Well, at least we now have a better understanding of Steve Jobs’s disdain for carriers.
If you’re wondering about your carrier’s 4G coverage in your area, hop over at OpenSignalMaps. As for China, a landmark deal with the world’s leading carrier China Mobile is reportedly a no-go.
With that in mind, here’s a short overview of the iPhone situation at major U.S. telcos.
Apple’s first U.S. carrier is no longer exclusive and it’s been heavily promoting Android and Windows Phone devices, though it’s still the nation’s biggest iPhone carrier. The company is fully prepared for the impending launch, iPhone 5 cases and all.
AT&T killed unlimited data earlier in the summer, replacing it with shared plans.
• AT&T reportedly unlocking under-contract iPhones
• Alleged iPhone 5 cases pop up in AT&T’s internal accessory systems
• AT&T denies rumors of employee vacation blackout
• AT&T expands 4G LTE network ahead of new iPhone launch
• AT&T launches LTE in four new markets, expands in several others
• AT&T LTE now in 47 markets
• AT&T’s new Mobile Share data plans now available
• AT&T says FaceTime fears are “wrong”
• Your thoughts on AT&T requiring shared data for FaceTime over Cellular
• AT&T says FaceTime over Cellular feature will require Shared Data plan
• AT&T to pull the plug on its 2G network by 2017
• AT&T activates 3.7M iPhones in Q2
• AT&T asked RIM to make an iPhone competitor back in 2010
• AT&T CEO talks the iPhone, unlimited data and iMessage
Our complete AT&T coverage is available here.
The carrier killed unlimited data earlier this summer, replacing it with shared plans.
• Poll: will you switch from AT&T to Verizon for LTE coverage?
• JD Power: Verizon most reliable carrier with AT&T far behind
• Verizon vacation blackout suggests iPhone 5 may be available September 21
• Verizon’s LTE network will soon cover 2/3 of US population
• Verizon’s secret 20GB shared data plan
• Verizon rep just reminded me why I’ll never use Verizon
• Verizon activates 2.7M iPhones, Q2 share drops to 45% of smartphones
• Verizon lights up 4G LTE in 33 new markets
• Verizon launches Share Everything plans
• iPhone no longer Verizon’s bestselling smartphone
• Verizon clarifies plans to discontinue grandfathered unlimited data plans
Our complete Verizon coverage is available here.
Late to the party, Sprint only began deploying LTE in June, having lit up cell towers in 19 metropolitan areas to date. On a flip side, Sprint is the only major iPhone carrier in the U.S. with unlimited data, at least for now.
• Sprint to offer $400 in store credit to new customers
• Sprint names a hundred cities gettiang 4G LTE in “coming months”
• The next iPhone could hit Sprint on October 15, training manual indicates
• Sprint expands LTE into four more US cities
• Sprint expands LTE into four more US cities
• Sprint’s CEO reaffirms plans to keep unlimited data, for now
• Sprint activates 1.5M iPhones in the second quarter
• Sprint officially launches its LTE network
• Prepaid iPhone lands on Virgin Mobile, also available via Best Buy and RadioShack
• Sprint’s 4G LTE will be slower than AT&T’s or Verizon’s
• Sprint axes 5GB/$30 mobile hotspot plan, replaces it with 2GB/6GB tiers
• Sprint iPhone sells better at carrier-agnostic retailers than Apple Stores
• Sprint won’t make money on the iPhone until at least 2015
Our complete Sprint coverage is available here.
T-Mobile USA not getting the iPhone 5?
You gotta feel for Deutsche Telekom-owned T-Mobile USA, the only major U.S. carrier without the iPhone. It’s not that Apple doesn’t want to deal with T-Mobile or that the carrier is asking for onerous terms – the network is the problem as it’s based on 3G bands not supported by the iPhone.
If only T-Mobile USA landed the iPhone on its tenth anniversary?
T-Mobile only recently began purchasing AWS spectrum from its rivals. It’s been lighting up its iPhone-compatible 1900MHz cell sites, enabling owners of unlocked iPhones to use T-Mobile’s speedy 3G HSPA+ network. Despite its network not being yet fully compatible with Apple’s device, the carrier unofficially hosts more than a million unlocked iPhones.
T-Mobile lost nearly a million customers in the June quarter because it didn’t have the iconic smartphone. For what it’s worth, T-Mobile offers micro-SIM cards and free support to unlockers and began distributing Nano SIMs to retailers ahead of the launch.
It also kicked off an iPhone-focused campaign that includes affordable unlimited data plans to owners of contract-free iPhones and revealed plans to make iOS versions of its popular mobile apps, like T-Mobile myAccount, T-Mobile Visual Voicemail and T-Mobile TV.
Unlike AT&T and Verizon, T-Mobile recently launched unlimited data plans, beginning at $20 a month. It is also the sole major U.S. carrier to skip 2012 and instead roll out LTE network in 2013. You should also note T-Mobile advertises its network as 4G even though it’s technically just a souped up 3G with speedy HSPA+ data rates.
• T-Mobile to install unlocked iPhone displays in stores
• T-Mobile apparently has iPhone 5 response in the works
• T-Mobile readying “Bring your iPhone to T-Mobile” campaign
• T-Mobile launches unlimited “4G” data plan
• T-Mobile not seen landing the iPhone before 2013
• T-Mobile to start offering 4G micro SIM kits for unlocked iPhones
• T-Mobile continues iPhone push, offers free support to unlockers
• T-Mobile confirms it will be offering iPhone-friendly 4G service at WWDC
• T-Mobile engineer talks iPhone, LTE and failed AT&T merger
• T-Mobile lighting up more iPhone-friendly HSPA+ sites in June and July
• T-Mobile: iPhone-compatible HSPA+ network coming later this year
Our complete T-Mobile coverage is available here.
With Apple reportedly reducing its orders from Samsung in favor of alternate suppliers, the iPhone 5 is bound to affect not only the end-user and the mobile industry, but also Asian supply chain and some of Apple’s fiercest rivals.
It’s almost here. Are you ready for it?
Is this everything a human being can glean from the rumor-mill?
Is the iPhone 5 gonna be everything we’ve been hoping for?
Not by a long shot: it’s an Apple product after all and expectations are unreasonably high.
Does Apple have any aces left up its sleeve?
We’ll find out about that come tomorrow 10am Pacific, 1pm Eastern.
As always, we welcome your take on the matter.
Hit us in comments.