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iPhone 5: do Apple's plans belie Android fears?

iPhone 5: do Apple's plans belie Android fears?

The iPhone 5 is unlikely to take a bow until June at the earliest. But already some truly juicy morsels regarding the next-gen handset are being chewed over.

Engadget reported this weekend that it had spoken to sources who have indicated a completely redesigned phone is on the cards, rocking an A5 chip and a triple-mode Qualcomm chipset. While the latter point to a faster, internally superior device, the redesign news is something of a surprise.

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Before the unveiling of the Verizon iPhone in the States last week, it had been largely assumed that the shift from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 5 would be much like the jump between the iPhone 3G and 3GS. This time around, a tweak to the antenna to ward-off ‘death grip’ issues had been expected to be the only exterior change. Not so, say insiders.

This redesign perhaps tells us all we need to know about how the smartphone game has finally caught up with Cupertino. A year ago, Android handsets were barely finding their feet in the run up to MWC. Now Google’s OS has an arsenal of desirable smartphones and a UI and software so all-conquering that Apple is in danger of being left in its wake, certainly in sales terms, if not in simplicity of use.

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Apple is not a company known for playing up to a ‘me too’ philosophy. But there’s no way it won’t have been looking at key phones from Samsung and HTC in recent months and not been concerned that its efforts are at last being gazumped.

A new look iPhone, not just one with minor tweaks, will of course go a long way to easing any worries and play well on the minds of those for whom the next iPhone is all about the upgrade (3GS owners, we’re looking at you).

So what will it need? For starters, those tapered edges would be welcomed back with open arms, perhaps looking back to the gorgeous original iPhone for inspiration. Near Field Communications (NFC) technology will also have to come as part and parcel of the package, while even something as crass as new colour schemes could come into play. And then there’s of course the need to diversify. Google can offer a slew of handsets thanks to its myriad tie-ups with OEMs. Is now finally the time for Apple to offer an iPhone Mini, as opposed to flogging the previous generation at a knockdown price?

All will be revealed over the summer. But with a stack of new rivals coming at the Mobile World Conference in February, Apple will undoubtedly have to up its hardware game and stop hiding behind its past achievements.

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