The web has been awash with iPhone 5 rumours of late. Apple has not so much as announced the handset, but that hasn't stopped a welter of supposed leaks and speculation from dominating column inches. In the chaos of all sorts of confuzzling intel floating around, we try to make sense of what we really can and can’t expect from the hotly anticipated fifth take on Apple's smartie.
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1. Physical keyboard
Not in a million years - that’s pretty much the ETA for an iPhone with a physical keyboard. Not least because Apple is already raking in the dough with its touchscreen efforts. Adding a keyboard would only add extra bulk to the handset and hamper the screen size, not to mention make it weigh more. It would be like Ferrari making a people carrier. Want a keyboard? Buy a BlackBerry.
2. No home button
Given Jonathan Ive’s tireless pursuit to create the slimmest, slickest iDevices, we can actually see an iPhone sans a physical home button happening. However, numerous leaks of cases supposedly intended for the iPhone 5 seem to kybosh any hopes of that happening this time around. At best, Apple is likely to introduce new multi-touch gestures with iOS 5, but if I were a betting man, I'd say the home button is here to stay.
3. Bigger, edge-to-edge screen
This is one of the longest-running and arguably most plausible iPhone 5 rumours. A spate of leaks and anonymous tips to-date suggest that a more capacious screen is almost a certainty. It makes sense that Apple would utilise any space it can find to cram in a few extra millimetres, so a panel that stretches bezel-to-bezel is not beyond the realms of possibility.
4. Eight-megapixel camera
From two megapixels in the iPhone 3G to three in the 3GS and then five in the iPhone 4, Apple has gradually increased the pixel count of the snapper with each iteration of its handset. Recent rumours have offered up some promising evidence to support the presence of an eight-megapixel camera in the next iPhone. And with Apple’s kit declared the most popular camera device on photo-sharing site Flickr, it’s only natural it carries on that trend with the iPhone 5.
5. Near Field communications
Near Field Communications (NFC) is the future. Or so they say. With the promise of easy, contactless payments, NFC is quickly gaining favour with some of Apple’s biggest rivals. Rumours suggest that Cupertino, too, is mulling the idea of adopting the tech, although no evidence of it has been found in the iOS 5 betas so far. Frankly, we could toss a coin on this one. Apple might hold off on NFC until it’s become a standard or take us completely by surprise. We’ll just have to wait and see.
6. 3D Display
I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of 3D. None of the 3D phones out so far impressed me to a point I’d want to actively torture my eyes with it. However, it can be a great asset to gaming, as the Nintendo 3DS attests. Unfortunately, Ninty’s device isn’t doing so hot in the charts and Apple is doing too well in 2D space to be bothered with 3D just yet.
7. Built-in SIM card
Apple’s secret plans to include an integrated SIM card with its next iPhone would allow customers to buy the handset from anywhere and subscribe to the network of their choice - one of the main reasons why jailbreaking exists. However, that seems like a pipe dream after operators in Europe threatened punitive action against the phone-maker to counter such a move. Apple knows well enough how to pick its battles carefully.
8. microSD support
We’re at a loss with this one. Introducing a microSD slot would certainly appease fans and may even convert a few stubborn Fandroid to join the iSide. However, what’s good for consumers is not always good for Apple. The higher premium it collects from selling the different iPhone SKUs, not to mention the announcement of iCloud offering at least 5GB of free storage, make it nigh-on impossible to anticipate an external memory card slot in the iPhone 5.
9. Dual core processor
Rumours that Apple is planning to slap on an A5 dual core processor – same as the iPad 2 – on the iPhone 5 have been doing the rounds for a good while now.
A reference to the processor, also known as S5L8940, has been unearthed in iOS 4.3 code. And with the glut of features expected to be on board iOS 5, a faster processor is the only logical progression.
Leaked case mock-ups purportedly intended for the next-gen kit suggest the iPhone 5 may sport a more tapered design reminiscent of the iPhone 3GS. Going by past iterations, a thinner body can also be expected. However, if a recent analysis company's forecast is to be trusted, it’s unlikely we’re in for an iPhone 4-style radical design rethink.