With the long-awaited iPhone 5 release reportedly semi-imminent (Al Gore, and AllThingsDigital, both say so!), it’s time to take stock of where smart phone technology has arrived–and where we hope it’s headed. Here are a handful of features that we’ve got our fingers crossed about, and hope to see in the next model of Uncle Steve’s wonderphone.
Wallets are so 2010. Analysts have gone back and forth on whether the next iPhone would be likely to incorporate an near-field communications payments option, but consensus now seems to be that an NFC chip is likely. A source told the New York Times that a future iPhone is expected to use a chip made by Qualcomm with NFC capability–but the Times leaves open the possibility that that functionality will come in the iPhone 6.
2. An 8MP Camera
The iPhone 4 has a five-megapixel camera. A while back, though, Sony’s CEO Howard Stringer appeared to let slip that Sony was working on an eight-megapixel version for the next iPhone. That, at least, is what the technorati are hoping to see in the iPhone 5.
3. An Improved Display
Rumors of a four-inch screen seem to be out (for now), but that doesn’t mean we’ll be settling for the same old screen. Perhaps a bezel-free version with a screen that goes nearly edge-to-edge? Could we at least get a 0.2 inch mini-boost, from 3.5 to 3.7 inches? At the very least, we’d better be seeing higher pixel density than the current 326-dpi. It’s our Jobs-given right. And while we’re on the topic of display innovation, we’d love to see (but by no means expect) some of the concepts we’ve seen floating around. A virtual laser keyboard, anyone? Or a Kinect-like 3-D gesturing space?
4. A Dual-Core Processor
The current iPhone runs on a single-core A4 CPU. But with the iPhone 5, prospects are bright for a dual-core processor–CNET forecasts the likelihood at “100 percent” (and a leaked photo appears to confirm this). We’re expecting to see the same 1GHz dual-core processor familiar to users of the iPad 2–anything less would be a disappointment, anything greater a pleasant surprise. A dual-core processor is a must; competitors have already outstripped Apple in this regard.
5. Voice Control
Whether Apple will make thoroughly good on its acquisition of Siri by introducing a “virtual personal assistant” has been a mild obsession of this blog. An iPhone that listens to you, that can parse your voice into commands–booking a table at that Italian restaurant and suggesting a movie to see afterwards–would be very nice indeed, and would help close one gap in which Android currently outshines iOS.
6. A Sleeker Design
Fanboys and -girls everywhere have been picking apart clues from purported iPhone 5 cases like CSI analysts. Some have inferred that the next-gen iPhone could be a tad slimmer than the already rather skinny version. Could the iPhone 5 be as thin as an iPod Touch?
7. A Longer-Lasting Battery
Each successive iPhone has had a better battery life than the prior; why should the iPhone 5 be an exception? In February, a patent turned up showing that Apple was hard at work on increasing energy density in lithium battery cells, packing more charge without adding to the phone’s heft. (Desperate for more details on just how to improve a battery? Here’s a good run-down.) Here’s hoping they’ve made good on that patent.