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iPhone 5 release date, features, news and rumours

iPhone 5 release date, features, news and rumours

We have peered into the abyss to bring you the latest, hottest iPhone 5 news, rumours and release date information – plus a comprehensive rundown of the features and specs you can look forward to - in this definitive round-up.

Anything you need to know about Apple’s new iPhone is here. If by chance it’s not, then it will be soon, as we continue to update the page with the freshest iPhone 5 gen. So be sure to bookmark it and check back daily for your fill of the most highly anticipated smartphone launch of 2012!

You can also find the most recent iPhone 5 news here.

iPhone 5 release date

When is iPhone 5 coming out? That’s probably the first question on everybody’s mind. Well, it looks dead set for an autumn launch. However, you probably want something a bit less ambiguous, right? Here’s what we’ve got so far:

iPhone 5 placeholder (mock-up)

It could be out as early as August

According to Know Your Mobile, courtesy of a ‘reliable industry source’ (is there any other kind?), the iPhone 5 will be announced on August 7th.

Release dates don’t get more specific than that. But may be it is ‘too’ specific – and a little too soon to be considered trustworthy if we’re honest. Let’s file that under ‘highly unlikely’ for now.

Or more likely in September

A September release has been frequently touted as the most likely ETA for the iPhone 5 by analysts and fortune-tellers alike.

Digitimes reported back in May, citing supply chain whistle-blowers, that Taiwan-based Pegatron Technology has “landed orders for a new-generation iPhone to be launched in September”.

More recently, a new unnamed source originating in China that specialises in manufacture of iPhone accessories has claimed the iPhone 5 will drop on September 21st. Again, the date seems suspiciously exact to be believable. However, the general consensus is that September is probably the best we can expect for official announcement.

Worst-case scenario, October!

If the iPhone 5 doesn’t crop up by September, then it will surely do so by October.

Gene Munster, a Piper Jaffray analyst claims that chip-maker Qualcomm’s admission that it is struggling to meet demand for 4G components makes an October launch for the handset a lot more plausible. It will also be exactly a year since the launch of the iPhone 4S.

Assuming Apple plans on going back to a yearly refresh cycle for new iPhones, it makes good business sense to launch the iPhone 5 in October. However, if it waits any longer, it risks missing its quarterly revenue guidance set by Wall Street analysts.

iPhone 5 release date UK

As with the iPhone 4 and the 4S, the iPhone 5 is expected to be released in the UK day and date with the US. Exact availability details will be revealed shortly after the handset is officially announced. However, we expect some differences in the release date from third-party retailers and as a consequence of shortages that may occur due to massive demand.

iPhone 5 features and specs

So, what new improvements and technologies can we look forward to on the iPhone 5? Apple has largely managed to keep things under wraps, but that has only ensured the rumours spread like wildfire. Here are some of the most talked about features and capabilities that might be on board:

iPhone 5 screen

Larger, four-inch display

A bigger display has long been the mainstay of the iPhone 5 rumour mill. Copious supply chain sources and industry analysts have unanimously declared it will be “at least four inches” in size.

So far a deluge of so-called ‘leaked’ components – most notably a front panel allegedly intended for the sixth-generation kit (and another purportedly belonging to the next iPod touch) – is the closest to tangible evidence we’ve come across to corroborating their claims.

iPhone 5 liquidmetal render front

Stone Wu, senior analyst at IHS Displaybank, has said that Sony has been enlisted for manufacturing detail of a 3.95-inch display, featuring a 640 x 1136 resolution (176 pixels taller than the iPhone 4S) with a16:9 aspect ratio.

Meanwhile, Ming-chi Kuo of KGI Research has told investors the iPhone 5 will rock a “4.08-inch in-cell IPS panel screen with a display resolution of 1,136 x 640 and 500-nit brightness”, also of a 16:9 ratio.

Thinner In-cell panel technology

The Wall Street Journal, citing ‘people familiar with matters’ at House of Cupertino, has reported that the iPhone 5 will boast an ‘in-cell’ screen, developed by Japan Display Inc. and co-manufactured by Sharp and LG.

This will reduce the three layers of the ‘on-cell’ display used on current iPhone models into two layers, by combining the Liquid Crystal display with the touch sensor layer, while the Gorilla Glass layer remains independent.

A thinner panel will enable the iPhone 5 to be even slimmer - up to 7.9mm, reckons Kuo - than its predecessors.

iPhone 5 render edge to edge screen

The screen size could stay the same

While speaking to The Verge at the D10 conference back in May, Apple CEO Tim Cook said: "One thing [that separates us from Android] is that we're not fragmented. Look at the percentage of users who upgraded to iOS 5.

“We have one App Store. We have one phone with one screen size, one resolution. So it's pretty simple if you're a developer."

While this doesn’t necessarily rule out a larger display, it’s not exactly a vote of confidence either for the millions of iFans who probably feel the iPhone is starting feel a bit squeezed for screen real estate amid a deluge of Android kits with expansive displays.

We think it is inevitable the iPhone 5 will feature a bigger screen. However, Apple being Apple means there’s no absolute guarantee that it will.

iPhone 5 Processor

Faster dual core chippy or sinewy quad-core number?

Although early speculation has suggested iPhone 5 could rock the same A5X processor as the new iPad, which is faster than the A5 number that features on the 4S, the first clue that it might actually make a leap to a brawnier quad-core chip was discovered in the iOS 5.1 beta, although concrete evidence of this materialising has yet to be uncovered.

Apple A6 processor

Recent supply chain heat has added fresh credence to the conjecture. Digitimes claimed the processor will be built on [Samsung’s Exynos 4 Quad system chipset, which features on the Samsung Galaxy S3.

It sounds highly suspect. Not least because the S3 is the iPhone’s biggest challenger right now, but also due to Apple’s ongoing courtroom contretemps with Samsung.

iPhone 5 Camera

Improved camera sensor

Analyst Ming-chi Kuo reckons the next iPhone will likely retain the eight-megapixel camera of the 4S, but with an improved sensor that boasts a smaller compact camera module measuring 5.55mm with through-the-lens (TTL) metering of 4mm.

It’s probably no secret now that Sony is behind the camera sensors for the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S, and we expect it to continue making cameras for the iPhone 5.

Earlier this year, the Japanese electronics giant unveiled new back-illuminated CMOS sensors that could considerably improve the imaging capabilities of camera smartphones – namely the next iPhone.

These are two new eight and 13 megapixel sensors equipped with a unique ‘RGBW Coding’ function that improves sensitivity to light and reduces noise in darker shooting conditions.

Better still, they feature native HDR (High Dynamic Range) shooting skills, allowing for more dramatic lighting in photos and videos.

There is a very good chance that the iPhone 5 will feature the eight-megapixel variety of this cutting-edge new sensor.

High-definition front-facing camera

Kuo also thinks the iPhone 5 could make the switch to a flip-chip (FC), front-facing camera with a high-definition resolution (possibly 720p) and a wider f/2.2 aperture.

10-megapixel camera

Chatter that the iPhone 5 camera could feature a 10-megapixel resolution has been rife since before the launch of the iPhone 4S. However, there’s little evidence out there to suggest this is anything more than just wishful thinking.

All signs so far point to Apple keeping the eight-megapixel camera on the iPhone, but fitting it with a more advanced sensor. Any avid photographer would know the latter is the better option and we hope that’s what we’ll get.

iPhone 5 connectivity & extras

NFC, PassBook and iTravel

Rumours that the iPhone 5 will feature NFC, short for Near Field Communication, won’t seem to let up. However, whilst most major manufacturers and networks have openly embraced it, Apple has thus far kept mum about its plans.

What’s not a secret, though, is that it is definitely exploring possible uses for the tech, as several patents filed over the last two years attest.

Perhaps the most notable of these is an NFC-operated ‘iTravel’ app that can “store and transmit travel reservations and traveller identifications using a travel management application”, enabling the iPhone to be used as a ticket or boarding pass.

Wireless charging

Rumours suggest the iPhone 5 will be the first Apple smartphone to introduce wireless charging.

Before you brush it off as a nonstarter, consider this: the ill-fated Palm Pre had wireless charging three years ago. More recently it has been announced for the Samsung Galaxy S3. So it is not something you just read about in cyberpunk novels! If Apple really wanted it, wireless charging could be on board the iPhone 5.

iPhone wireless charging

And it looks like it’s at least thought about it, because in June the company was granted 28 patents by the US Patents & Trademark Office (USPTO), one of which is for a docking station that features ‘inductive charging circuits’ – the key element of wireless charging.

That doesn’t mean it will happen, as most gadget patents never see the light of day. But it could happen. Surely that’s something?

Broader 3G compatibility and 4G/LTE (Long Term Evolution) support

Analysts' forecasts suggest the next iPhone will be compatible with China Mobile’s proprietary TD-SCDMA 3G network, allowing the handset to finally launch on the ‘world’s biggest mobile network’ with a subscriber base of 650 million. 4G LTE support has also been mooted, making it what market watchers are calling a “true world phone”.

Memory & storage

Apple is hotly tipped to double the maximum storage space on the iPhone 5 – from 64GB on the 4S to a whopping 128GB.

The iGiant is also reputedly in negotiations to acquire Anobit, an Israeli flash storage specialist for a cutting-edge technology called ‘Memory Signal Processing (MSP)’ that offers improved “endurance and performance” of flash storage systems.

In layman’s terms, as well as twice the storage capacity, the iPhone 5 could be blazing fast at transferring data.

The RAM itself is likely to stay the same at 1GB. Though it may be doubled depending on whether or not Apple decides to pick a quad-core processor.

Nano SIM card or micro SIM?

In June, Apple was granted permission by the The Smart Card Platform Technical Committee of the European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI) to introduce a new standard for the SIM card, dubbed ‘nanoSIM’.

According to ETSI, nanoSIM will be 40 per cent smaller than the current microSIM card design at 12.3 millimeters (L) by 8.8 mm (W) by 0.67 mm (D), allowing more space for internal components, say an NFC chip, perhaps?

Recently, The Financial Times has reported that European networks have begun stocking up on the card, amid talk that it will officially make its debut on the iPhone 5.

iPhone 5 design and build

Taller and slimmer, but largely same form factor

The current design of the iPhone has been present for more than two years now. While it is still one of the best conceived phones around, some would say it is starting to show its age, fuelling chatter that Apple will go back to the drawing board for the iPhone 5.

iphone 5s concept 4

However, a series of ‘leaked’ components that have cropped up over the last few months reveal a form factor very similar to the 4S, featuring the same width but extra height to accommodate a more roomy screen. Going by these at least, a complete rethink of the design seems highly unlikely.

That said, if you place much faith in analysts’ words, Apple may yet have an ace up its sleeve to wow us like it did with the iPhone 4 back in 2010.

Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray claims the iPhone 5 will be the “biggest device upgrade cycle in smartphone history”, while Ming-chi Kuo says will be “the most challenging iPhone design yet”, measuring a markedly slimmer 7.9mm, thanks to a thinner in-cell panel. Only time will tell if this is the case.

New mini dock connector

According to three independent manufacturing sources, Apple will do away with the 30-pin dock connector that’s been a standard for iDevices since the first iPod touch. Rumours are doing the rounds that iPhone 5 will introduce a smaller, 19-pin connector as a replacement.

A Reuters report recently added fresh credence to this rumour, citing ‘two sources’ abreast of developments.

It goes without saying such a drastic change could have a strong backlash from the Apple community as well accessory-makers as it would render entire collections of docks and peripherals obsolete overnight.

However, Franciso Jeronimo, an analyst at technology research firm IDC, believes that Apple will likely to pre-empt an uprising by releasing an adapter kit that makes the new connector compatible with existing hardware.

Better yet, Pete Cunningham of Canalys is of the opinion that a mini dock connector on the iPhone 5 "represents an opportunity for accessory vendors”, adding that the existing connector “has been a standard for a long time now and I would expect the same to be true for a new connector, should Apple change it as expected".

Repositioned audio jack and front camera

Two leaked front panels reveal that Apple may have decided to the shift the front-facing camera on the iPhone 5 to the centre, just above the earpiece. A leaked back panel, meanwhile, suggests the audio jack could be moved from the top of the device to the bottom.

Having the audio jack at the base of the phone could make it easier to slip in and remove the handset from your pocket. But we don’t see the point in having a centred front camera, which will probably take up unnecessary space that could instead be used for that taller screen.

In fact, Reuters states that the reason Apple has purportedly opted for a mini dock connector is "to make room for the earphone moving to the bottom".

Liquidmetal alloy

Rumours have been doing the rounds that Apple will ditch the glass body of the iPhone 4S in favour of a ‘Liquidmetal’ construction for the iPhone 5. If true, this will incorporate an alloy of zirconium, titanium, nickel and copper to make the handset more robust and hardwearing, while retaining the silky smooth look and feel of Apple devices.

iPhone 5 liquidmetal concept (rear)

However, the inventor of Liquidmetal has denied the technology will feature on the next iPhone, citing a lack of a “suitable manufacturing infrastructure” at Apple’s factories, as well as the technology not yet having “matured and perfected both in manufacturing process and application development” for such a large-scale roll-out.

iPhone 5 pictures and renders

There are numerous photos of so-called leaked iPhone 5 parts, but unfortunately none (at least not yet) that constitutes as a bona fide, full glimpse of the finished product.

However, there’s no shortage of concepts and mock-ups floating around the web illustrating what the iPhone 5 could look like. Suffice to say, most of these are a bit avant-garde to meet the ‘less-is-more’ philosophy of Apple design doyen Jonny Ive, who’ll doubtless want to preserve the company’s trademark minimalist aesthetics for the iPhone 5.

The iPhone 5 will ‘put the Samsung Galaxy S3 to shame’

Or so claims Terry Gou, the outspoken head-honcho of Foxconn AGM, Apple’s manufacturer-in-crime for iProducts. He doesn’t elaborate as to how the iPhone 5 will achieve such a feat, but we suspect his comment had more to do with a personal disdain for Samsung than anything.

That’s because, in the same China Times report, he’s also quoted as calling Samsung “a company with a track record of snitching on its competitors”. This is in reference to the South Korean giant grassing up four Taiwanese companies in a price-fixing investigation by the European Commission, which Sammy escaped by serving as a ‘tainted witness’. 

It’s the last iPhone Steve Jobs worked on

According to Bloomberg, an unnamed insider at Apple said the Steve Jobs "had worked closely on the redesigned phone before his death", even while he was on medical leave from the company.

Steve Jobs Apple black and white

Assuming this is correct, the iPhone 5 is a crucial piece of Jobs’ enduring legacy, raising the handset’s profile even higher than previous iterations.

iPhone 5 name

Yes, we’ve actually come to a point where we can’t even be sure the next iPhone will be called the ‘iPhone 5’, as logic dictates.

Apple’s decision to market its latest iPad as the ‘new iPad’ instead of iPad 3, which has been reluctantly accepted by the industry as an annoying but ingenious strategy, has meant the iPhone 5 could simply be called the ‘new iPhone’.

However, back in May Apple lodged and won a complaint over ownership of the domain name. So it looks like it hasn’t given up on a numbering convention for the iPhone just yet.

iPhone 5 price and deals

Despite any hardware enhancement it brings, Apple will most likely keep the iPhone 5 at the same ‘sweet spot’ price point as the iPhone 4S. That entails stumping up £499 for the 16GB, £599 for the 32GB and £699 for the 64GB storage variants (all prices inclusive of VAT).

And if there is a 128GB model, too, like some predict, this will cost at least £799. Quite a steep outlay if you asked us. But if you have the cash to spare, who are we to argue?

If you don’t, fret not: we expect the iPhone 5 to be available on a range of contract options through all the major UK mobile networks (O2, Vodafone, T-Mobile, Orange and Three) and vendors (Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4U) starting in the region of £35 a month on a two year term. Although, it’s highly possible you’ll still have to shell out a one-off cost for the handset itself, which we reckon could be minimum of £99.

Of course, iPhone 5 pay as you go packages too will be available at launch. We’ll be able to reveal exact pricing details, deals and tariffs when the handset is announced. So stay tuned.

iPhone 5 review

As with all flagship smartphones, we will be sure to have our review of the iPhone 5 up as soon as we can get out hands on it. So keep your hats on and watch this space.

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