It’s time for the round-up of rumors about an upcoming Apple product. With the new iPad still fairly fresh out of the gate, I suppose that the fifth-generation iPhone is on deck. A sudden spurt of iPhone 5 rumors over the past few days has whet our critical appetite to get to the bottom of what is known, what is likely, what is doubtful at best, and what is utterly impossible.
- The fifth-generation iPhone will be the “iPhone 5.” Status: possible. Nobody has anything to back this up, and if Apple’s history is any indicator, nobody will be any more sure until it’s released. Speaking of which, there is plenty of speculation that “the new iPhone” will be exactly what it’s called. It’s doubtful that it will be another iteration of “iPhone 4,” but the iPhone 3GS is reason to believe that it’s not impossible.
- The iPhone 5 will be released this summer. Status: possible. The best reason to consider a summer release date comes from statements made in an interview with a Foxconn recruiter. There’s also WWDC in June, but historically that’s a better forum for announcements than actual releases. Personally, I’d call September/October far more likely.
- The new iPhone will have a quad-core CPU. Status: likely. This is based mainly on the A6 expectations and the overall ARM roadmap, but the likelihood is balanced a bit by rumors of testing on a variation of the iPad’s A5X, which is dual-core (but, uh, with quad-core graphics). Apple is notorious for taking the high road away from the ‘mine is bigger’ wars of bleeding-edge technology, but you can’t deny that the quad-core’s time has come for the market in general.
- The iPhone 5 will come to T-Mobile. Status: doubtful. Yes, sorry to say, but if Apple wanted to work with T-Mobile, they would have done it by now. They definitely wouldn’t have given the iPhone to a bunch of tiny regional carriers if they were basing their decisions on market share alone. Things may change once T-Mobile’s LTE is up and running, but that may not be until the iPhone 6 (or the iPhone 5S, or the new NEW iPhone).
- The new iPhone will have a 4” (or larger) screen. Status: I’m gonna give this one a tentative “likely.” Bigger smartphone screens are a natural evolution that Apple has been perversely stunting for too long. But seriously, there’s also a fairly decent source for this rumor. Plus, Steve Jobs is dead, and with him went a lot of Apple’s self-imposed limitations. A 4” iPhone screen is even more likely than a 7” iPad (a rumor which seems more likely every time it resurfaces).
- The new iPhone will have a significantly different design than the previous four generations. Status: Duh. I mean, likely. If the screen is bigger, which I called “likely” above, it will necessitate a fairly major redesign. Will it still have lovely retro-modern Apple-esque curves that drives all the fanboys (and design snobs) wild? Most certainly, but they’ll have bigger tops (for the screen) and bigger bottoms (for the battery, which will need to be bigger for the screen and the LTE and the… etc). The term “unibody” keeps popping up among rumor-mongers, often right before or after “sleek.”
- The new iPhone will have NFC. Status: likely, but also yawn-worthy. A MasterCard exec negatively confirmed this by refusing to confirm it (if he’d been a politician, lawyer, or entertainment industry agent, this would have made it a certainty, but as he’s a banking exec it’s only good enough to make it “likely”). On the other hand, NFC is cool and all, but that better not be the best thing that the new iPhone has to offer.
- The new iPhone will be another anti-climax. Status: doubtful. Sure, Apple made lemonade out of Siri and Retina, and Tim Cook is the kind of bean-counting CEO who would be happy chuckling silently all the way to the bank. However, even some hardcore fanboys could be heard grumbling that the iPhone 4S and new iPad really should have been more impressive. If Apple wants to keep being a ridiculously cash-rich near-monopoly with legions of fawning worshippers, then the fifth-generation iPhone will have to really be something special, instead of just getting reviewers to gush about its pixels. I think they know this, and that’s why they’ve been working on it for two years and giving us the 4S to buy some time.
- The new iPhone will be less expensive: Well, I had to have at least one “impossible,” right? I’m going to go even farther and predict that Apple is just as likely to keep the existing products and price points right where they are for another year, and offer the new 4” quad-core iPhone for $100 more to start. Any takers?
Tagg writes on behalf of CableTV.com. He typically writes about technology and finance. When he’s not writing or tinkering on the latest gadget, he’s an avid mountain biker. You can follow him on Twitter. @CableTVcom.