Apple iPhone 5: Smaller and bigger

By Jonny Evans

Apple [AAPL]  will eventually introduce the iPhone 5 and this seems set to be smaller and bigger, or thinner and bigger at any rate -- and the device may even use the new and smaller nano-SIM standard the company's been championing, which, despite objections from other players in the space today won approval from the ETSI standard-setting board. Things seem set to get even more interesting...

 [ABOVE: The latest iPhone 5 claimed video feed.]

Apple sets the SIM

In what could become a huge poke in the eye for those competitors eager to use FRAND patents against Apple, the European Telecommunications Institute (ETSI) today finally approved a new nano-SIM card standard, choosing the version of this that has most recently been proposed by Apple. This card is 40 percent smaller than the current micro-SIM used in iPhones, which should make for even thinner, slimmer, some might say, smaller devices.

"The fourth form factor (4FF) card will be 40 per cent smaller than the current smallest SIM card design, at 12.3mm wide by 8.8mm high, and 0.67mm thick. It can be packaged and distributed in a way that is backwards compatible with existing SIM card designs. The new design will offer the same functionality as all current SIM cards," ETSI reveals in its official release, which also confirms the mobile industry continues to issue over 4.5 billion SIM cards each year.

ETSI hasn't said Apple's standard is the one chosen for this, but this might turn out to be the case according to a report from the reputable IDG News Service, which claims: "Apple’s specification beat a competing proposal from Nokia, Research In Motion and Google-owned Motorola Mobility."

"The proposer of the winning specification was identified by card maker Giesecke & Devrient, which had a representative on the committee," that report informs.

Slimmer, thinner phones

The new SIM design is also backward compatible (or can be) with all current SIM card designs. The decision today follows failure to agree to the same proposal during ETSI's March meeting, in face of objections from those firms mentioned above.

At threat now is whether Nokia will make good its promise to refuse to license essential SIM patents in protest at Apple's success.

The big deal here of course is that the smaller SIM will create space for more memory and larger batteries, which for iPhone users suggest even thinner models in future -- and could open up a future opportunity for even smaller communication devices.


Meanwhile a rash of fresh reports in the last 24-hours claim an iOS 6 beta confirms some details of the next-gen iPhone, which will (as we all pretty much expect at this point) host a 4-inch display -- which in conjunction with new manufacturing processes suggests the device will, indeed, be both smaller and bigger.

The processor? Could be an A5 or an A6, reports 9to5Mac. It will also offer LTE support -- though it seems dangerously likely to only offer this LTE/4G support in those countries currently supported by iPad 3 -- so most iPhone users planet-wide won't see much benefit. Hopefully 4G processor, Qualcomm, has a plan to straddle the broken market that characterizes 4G on an international basis (ie. a solution capable of supporting all commonly-used frequencies).

WWDC: It's (mainly) all about the software

Meanwhile, industry analysts appear to be consolidating around my previous suggestions of a software focus for WWDC, with Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu predicting the show will focus on iOS and OS X software features, also speculating (from an official press release provided to me via email):

"New Greatly Enhanced Maps. What we are picking from our industry checks is that the new Maps app will see a significant upgrade, namely 3D capability. From our understanding, it is internally developed and will be radically different and better than existing Maps from others. While a lot of focus will likely be on how this replaces Google Maps that currently powers every iOS device shipped (365 million iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch units as of the March quarter), we hear the key reason why AAPL decided to do this is that it believes it can deliver a much better user experience in Maps, not to mention provide further differentiation for its mobile devices business.

"Enhanced Camera and Photos Apps. The other key feature we hear will see a notable upgrade is its camera and photos apps. Currently, one can use the Photo Stream feature to share photos with iCloud. Many users still opt to use third-party apps like Instagram. We hear the new apps will allow more powerful sharing of photos.

"New Macs. In terms of hardware announcements, we anticipate several Macs could see refreshes, namely, iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and potentially Mac mini and Mac Pro. These will likely see upgrades to INTC's latest Ivy Bridge architecture which brings more performance per watt and enhanced graphics. The other big upgrade will likely be new HD retina displays.

So, as we look to WWDC we should be looking to the new software provided there for signs as to what to expect from Apple's perhaps slimmer, perhaps bigger, perhaps thinner, iPhone 5 (the sixth-generation iPhone). 

Keep up with further iPhone 5 coverage here:

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