What Will iPhone 5 Look Like? Contradictory Reports Show Nobody Knows

Sep 26, 2011 - 8 Comments

iPhone 5 concept

Two vastly different analyst reports do a great job of indicating the immense confusion surrounding the next-gen iPhone launch, which is due next week on October 4th. While some analysts are continuing to predict an all new redesigned iPhone 5 released alongside a low-end iPhone 4S, other reports suggest only one new iPhone is going to be pushed out by Apple this year, and that it’s just an incremental hardware update to the iPhone 4.

iPhone 5 is Aluminum Unibody, iPhone 4S is iPod touch Replacement

The first report from Deutsch Bank, as relayed to AppleInsider, suggests that iPhone 5 is expected to be a “completely redesigned handset” featuring “an aluminum unibody construction to replace the current glass back of the iPhone 4″ and that it will have a slightly larger screen.

Additionally, Deutsche Banks Chris Whitmore suspects that the so called iPhone 4S is basically an iPod touch replacement, providing a cheaper high margin device that Apple can aim at emerging markets.

The anticipated iPhone 4S is viewed as essentially an 8GB iPod touch with an added cellular antenna

The idea of two phones released simultaneously, one of which will replace the iPod touch, is an appealing theory, but there are other reports that indicate that’s not what is happening.

iPhone 5 said to look like iPhone 4

iPhone 5 Looks Like iPhone 4, No iPhone 4S

Meanwhile, an apparent confirmation from the frequently reliable All Things Digital branch of the Wall Street Journal suggests that a dramatically redesigned iPhone is not going to be released this year. Furthermore, they seem to agree with the idea that Apple is not going to release two different iPhone models at all, throwing water on the dual iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 theories.

Citing a report that circulated last week from yet another analyst, AllThingsD seems to confirm two main points about iPhone 5: that Apple will release only one new iPhone this year, and that the device will look practically identical to the existing iPhone 4:

[According to Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair] Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone will be an incremental update to the current iPhone 4, not a major redesign.

This is followed by specific quotes from analyst Brian Blair that seem to discredit the dual-release iPhone 4S & 5 rumors:

“We don’t expect a second, dramatically different iPhone to accompany this as we don’t think Apple needs to have 3 models in the market to address the high end, mid-tier and low end since the iPhone 4 (with memory lowered to 8 GB) will drop to $99 and effectively attack those markets.”

“Why would Apple bump up only the processor specs of the iPhone 4 in addition to a newly designed iPhone 5 if the goal is to sell it into the pre-paid market at a lower cost,” Blair asks. “A 4S would simply cost more and a 4S itself wouldn’t create a mid-tier market unless it was priced at $99 and the iPhone 4 went to $49 with the new iPhone at $199. We see this scenario as unlikely.”

AllThingsD John Paczkowski responds to this simply with “Agreed”.

In terms of hardware specs, other than the “[possibility of] a larger screen”, the report echos what has long been expected by the rumor mill: A5 CPU borrowed from the iPad 2, 1GB RAM, 8MP camera, and a ‘worldphone’ baseband that brings GSM and CDMA compatibility onto a single chip.

iPhone 5 Specific iOS 5 Features a Big Selling Point?

Finally, Mark Gurman of 9to5mac provides information about an next-gen-iPhone-only iOS 5 feature called “Assistant” that will be “the new device’s biggest selling point”, which lets you speak commands to the iPhone through an intelligent voice command system. 9to5mac has a detailed summary of the Assistant feature that is well worth a read, and their report also reaffirms the aforementioned hardware specs from other rumors.

The most glaringly obvious aspect to all these reports is that nobody knows exactly what’s coming out of Cupertino next week from Apple. About the only thing anyone can agree on is the devices availability, where a mid-month release date looks like October 14, if for no other reason that it being in the middle of the month, with iOS 5 coming slightly earlier.

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Posted by: Matt Chan in iPhone, News, Rumor

8 Comments

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  1. David says:

    I’m tired of following the rumors, but I am leaning towards the conservative side of expectations. WSJ’s repoters are directly connected to Apple and that’s where Apple plants leaks, so if they say only one iPhone that looks like an iPhone 4GS then I would bet good money on that.

    Regarding the other nonsense you read out there, I think people just make it up. Reminds me of UFO and Big Foot sightings, people say anything to get attention.

  2. bugs says:

    better have a 4″ screen or I’m jumping to Android

    • Hans says:

      Seriously? A tiny screen update is all that is separating you from using an entirely different operating system? Seems a little dramatic to me buddy…

  3. Cedrik says:

    This is what Apple is up against if they don’t release a killer iPhone 5, and millions of customers will move over to the competition.

    http://techcrunch.com/2011/09/26/htc-vigor-photo-leak-reveals-1-5-ghz-dual-core-processor-720p-display-and-4g-lte-support/

    1.5GHZ Dual Core

    4.3″ 720P display

    8MP rear camera, 2MP front camera

    4G LTE

    What is your response Apple?? I’m waiting and seeing…

    • Hans says:

      The 4G LTE is the killer for me. There is no reason why anybody would want to drop the 4G phones for the iPhone if it’s still stuck with 3G. Reminds me when the original iPhone launched on Edge, and many waited for the 3G. Looks like some of us will be waiting for the iPhone 6.

  4. sAM says:

    Is it 100% confirmed the voice assistant overhaul will not be compatible with the iPhone 4? And if so why not??? Isn’t it just part of iOS which should run on the 4?

  5. […] alleged iPhone 4S packaging label adds adds further confusion to the iPhone 5‘s existence and possible launch next week, and could indicate that Apple will only be […]

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