It’s been more than a year since the last iPhone was announced and the rumour mill is exhausted. Not used to over 12 months operation, its cogs have become clogged with nonsense, its wheels chipped in the confusion between hard fact and hot air and the poor donkey that pulls the whole lot round is on its last set of shoes. It’s knackered.
The end result is that what’s coming out is a strange, mucky and unquantifiable substance known as faction - no good to man nor tech beast. So, tired of mangled machinery and swamped by the echoed sound of sources, leaks and word from the inside, Pocket-lint decided to close the plant for a few hours, clean it all out and have a good old think about what’s really in front of us.
And, now that we’ve exhausted the analogy and more or less lost the sense of what it is we were referring to in the first place, here’s what we really think is going on with the iPhone 5 as we examine everything that’s been suggested about it so far.
The iPhone 5 will have a bigger screen
We can pin-point all the gossip about the iPhone 5 having a bigger screen to a period of around 4 weeks from the middle of March 2011 to the middle of April. It all starts when Chinese reseller and dealer of iPhone parts, IdealsChina, gets hold of some mold engineering drawings of the iPhone 5, which would ordinarily be used for case manufacturers to get designing. These drawings show an edge-to-edge glass structure for the next handset which would mean teeny-tiny side bezels. On top of that, a digitiser panel turns up as well. How real these two are is rather hard to say. It's quite possible that it's all about getting your accessories company's name out there.
A few days later in March and we hear through 9to5Mac that Foxconn is well underway with building the new phones and that they're looking to come with bigger screens. The chances are that this is more an echo of the previous from IdealsChina as much as anything else. Come the 22 April 2011, though, and it starts to get interesting.
Engadget's ex-supremo, Josh Topolsky, puts together a mock up of the iPhone 5 based on a sketch supplied by a source. As part of that mock up, we see, yes, an edge-to-edge glass screen of up to 3.7-inches. The idea is that if you go any higher, then the pixels-per-inch drop beneath the 300ppi, which is thought to be the threshold of what can be considered a Retina Display.
Now, if that wasn't from Topolsky, it's some pretty loose stuff but obviously the guy is bound to have a fair few insiders from his time in the field, so one ought to cut him some slack on that basis. Apparently, this is all possible with some pretty high-tech bonded glass that allows various components and sensors to sit behind the screen itself and are the same rumours that have been aired more recently on the Thisismynext site since.
Likelihood - 4/5
The evidence is poor but the idea is solid. Jobs and the iPhone users have watched while the likes of Samsung and LG have powered in with handsets of increasingly bigger screen sizes and it's starting to become a reason not to go Apple. Whether it's video, browsing or gaming, people want that larger interface with their device and that little bit of edge-to-edge goodness would go a very long way.
The iPhone 5 will have NFC
This was the subject of some of the first whiffles of waffle that go right back almost as far as the iPhone 4. On 16 August 2010, we found out that Apple had hired an NFC specialist by the name of Benjamin Vigier. So put two and two together with some patents from the past and, hey presto, you’ve got yourself a decent suggestion that the next iPhone will come, just like some of the latest Android smartphones, with NFC support on board.
Cut to 25 January 2011 and analyst Richard Doherty tells Bloomberg that NFC payment options are set for both the iPad 2 and the iPhone 5 - remember that this is before the launch of Apple's second tablet - and that he knew of engineers working on these devices. Well, Mr Doherty wasn't correct as far as the iPad 2 goes but it doesn't necessarily mean that there were no engineers working on these things. Neither does it fill us with confidence, though.
Next comes a brief flurry of NFC related speculation 2 months later. On 14 March 2011, we hear from the Independent, who had sources at the top of UK mobile networks sat around tables with Apple people, who themselves said that NFC would not be a feature of the next version of the iPhone. Four days later and we're told that's not true. In fact, according to Elizabeth Woyke of Forbes, "an entrepreneur" involved in a "top secret" NFC project assures her that the iPhone 5 will have the flash and pay tech. Oh, really?
The final word on the subject comes a few hours later as Cult of Mac files a report talking about a rather futuristic-sounding contactless syncing system that works via NFC in what has to be just a confused version of iCloud 3 months prior to launch.
Likelihood - 1/5
Aside hiring a bloke who knows about NFC and various distant insiders who contradict each other, there's really not a lot to make us think that this one's going to happen. The iPhone is famous for being slightly behind on this kind of advanced technology, firstly because the company will want to make sure it works flawlessly and, secondly, because there's no point in working and spending to get it onto the iPhone 5 if there aren't many NFC merchants and systems out there ready to take it. iPhone 6, yes, iPhone 5, no.
The iPhone 5 will be dual CDMA and GSM
For those that don't know what we're talking about, it's a case of the iPhone working on all radio standards - one phone to work throughout the world on all of the networks.
Back when the first CDMA iPhone arrived on the US network Verizon in early February, a tear down of the device uncovered a Qualcomm dual standard radio chip where there'd previously been a GSM-only version from Infineon. Already, there seems little reason to bother with any such hardware that's only good for one standard in the next generation of handsets.
Come 22 April 2011 and it's more or less signed, sealed and delivered by a quote from Verizon's boss who talks of his network getting the iPhone 5 at the same time as everyone else. The same story has since been corroborated by the Wall Street Journal and its sources.
Likelihood - 5/5
Nailed on with a lump hammer.
The iPhone 5 will have the Apple A5 chip
On 11 March 2011, a serious amount of gobbledygook in form of a kernelcache.release file clearly lists the codename for the part of the Apple A5 chip for the iPhone 5. Make of that code-soup what you will.
Fortunately, the same idea is backed up a month later by Taiwanese analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who was correct about the iPad 2's screen resolution and both of its cameras when most others disagreed. As well as supporting the above pretty damn solid dual radio chip suggestion, Kuo also talks of an iPhone 3GS of an iPhone 5 - an iPhone 4S if you will - with more speed bumps than any other major improvements. The biggest speed bump he talks of is, of course, an upgrade to the Apple A5 chip as found in the iPad 2.
On the downside, he did also predicts that the iPhone 5 would be announced at WWDC in June. Oh.
Likelihood - 4/5
No guarantees but there's a decent mix of some hard evidence and educated speculation here. What's more, it would fit with the profile of the kind of device we're all expecting.
The iPhone 5 will support LTE
Just the one piece of evidence here and it's hard to tell how much stock to put in it. As part of LulzSec's final trick the hacker outfit published reports from AT&T of iPhone and iPad LTE tests.
Likelihood - 2/5
The lack of any other support for the idea isn't exactly a seller and just how should one trust LulzSec when we know it's all about the lulz anyway? What's more, just because AT&T are running tests, it doesn't mean that there's an actual product coming to market any time soon.
The iPhone 5 will have an 8MP camera
Again, not much on this front although this time it is from a horse's mouth but, as big as that horse is, there is something of uninformed manure of what it's talking about. The story comes from 5 April 2011 when Sony’s CEO, Sir Howard Stringer, said that his company were selling their finest 8MP CMOS camera sensors to Apple for its iPhones or iPads or something. To his credit, more recently, the Wall Street Journal seems to agree.
Likelihood - 3/5
Aside Stringer, there's been little more said on the matter. Sure the iPhone could do with an upgrade there to keep up with the crowd, but the iPhone's always been a step behind in that department and it never seemed to bother the Jobs before.
The iPhone 5 will be smaller and thinner
Both Topolsky's insider and CEO of France Telecom (owner of Orange) speak of a smaller and thinner iPhone handset. The former specifies a tear drop type shape with some sort of taper in the profile, rather like a MacBook Air, and the latter has knowledge of the shrink through conversations with Apple about how to make components like the SIM even smaller in order to fit.
Likelihood - 4/5
The second source here is pretty strong and fairly recent coming at the end of May 2011. What's also apparent is that there's a certain kudos that goes with the idea of being the thinnest in the market these days and design is not somewhere Apple would want to look like a fool.
The iPhone 5 will have face recognition
Back at the end of September last year, Apple acquired a company by the name of Polar Rose who developed some seriously impressive face recognition software under the name of FaceCloud. It was an AR based way of holding your phone up to someone with the app then calling up the social networks to find out who you are and how to contact you. "Will this then be appearing in the iPhone 5?," was the cry.
Likelihood - 1/5
Probably not. There's been nothing of this ever since and one might have expected to hear something about it in the iOS 5 launch or even in the iPad 2 itself. Not a sausage.
The iPhone 5 will have a dedicated gesture control area
Topolsky's mock up from April brought in the idea of a gesture area where the Home key goes. The same idea hasn't been carried on in a later post on the subject and perhaps for good reason.
Likelihood - 1/5
Gestures are definitely going to be a part of the new device but confining them to a small area where you can barely fit you finger just isn't going to work. More likely is that the gesture area will be the whole screen.
The iPhone 5 will have no Home key
Another early idea which turned up at the beginning of 2011, courtesy of the Boy Genius Report, was that both the iPhone 5 and the iPad 2 would be losing the Home key with the arrival of this gesture control. After all, if you can get to home with a special swipe, then why bother with a button?
The bonus would be that freeing up the space would lend itself to a 16:9 aspect becoming possible on the screen. Nothing since.
Likelihood - 2/5
It's definitely an Apple move - think disappearing disk drives - but with no other proof to back the idea up, one does have to wonder whether the world is ready for it? Also, the iPad 2 has since turned up. It has a Home key.
There will be more than one iPhone
The idea of a second, and more junior, iPhone is as old as the hills; one which comes out every year when a launch is due. Some of the confusion has come about because of developments that Apple is said to be working on, such as an iPhone to come in 2012 that uses an alternative way of charging according to Wall Street Journal sources - possible something like magnetic induction.
However, according to both the WSJ and Topolsky, there will be two handsets on arrival. The first being the newer, thinner iPhone 5 and, the second, the same kinds of components but within the shell of the iPhone 4 design perhaps branded as the iPhone 4S or something similar.
Likelihood - 2/5
Neither of these reporters are fools by any means but something other than "sources from the inside" would be nice to go on. What bothers us is whether an older-cased iPhone 4S would really be much cheaper than an iPhone 5 and enough to really make any difference in allowing Apple to grab a lower end of the market. Of course, it could be about pushing the price of the top iPhones even higher than they are already. All the same, we're not so sure.
The iPhone 5 is coming in September
In April 2011, Reuters broke the news from three good sources in China that the iPhone 5 wouldn't be arriving until September. Well, they were certainly right with regards to getting no announcement at Apple WWDC in June. Since then, ignoring an unlikely story from a Phones 4u employee, all other fingers have pointed to the same date with word that June had been aimed for, but production simply wasn't ready.
More recently, stories have started to come in from various iPhone manufacturers in China that orders have been placed, the factories have kicked into gear and that mass shipments will be underway shortly.
Likelihood - 4/5
It would be a major surprise not to see the iPhone 5 turn up at the traditional September iPod announcements. There's a chance we could end up waiting until early 2012 for what is becoming the calendar date for iPad launches, but why sit on a product while it becomes dated if it's as ready to go as the manufacturers suggest?
The iPhone 5 will launch with an iPad Pro
The final interesting idea from Topolsky is that an iPad will be coming in September as well, but not the iPad 3, more of an iPad Pro - possibly known as the iPad HD. According to sources, it comes with a double resolution screen of 2048 x 1536px and app versions of Final Cut and Aperture for imaging professionals.
Likelihood - 2/5
We can see this one happening. There's plenty of sense here when you think of Apple's laptop line up, so if Jobs is serious about Post-PC, then it's an obvious move. All the same, it might be a little early for this and an April refresh along with a more consumer level iPad 3 might make more sense. We dread to think of the price.
So, now that you've ruminated the rumours for yourself, what do you think is going on? Let us know in the comments.