Collected: Apple iPhone 5 ships June and other crazy claims

By Jonny Evans

Apple [AAPL] manufacturer, Foxconn, is recruiting staff to man the iPhone 5 production lines with the product apparently set to ship in June, today's smartphone rumor claims.

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[ABOVE: Patently Apple explores the 3D avatar claim.]

Red herring?

If I were John Gruber, I'd likely add a one word summary to this report, which would be "scuttlebutt". I don't believe it.

Japanese broadcaster TV Tokyo has broadcast a show featuring a Foxconn recruiter who said the company needs to hire about 18,000 people to put together the iPhone 5. "Because it will go on sale in June."

Other than pointing out the relatively recent introduction of the iPhone 4S, I'm also unconvinced a human resources operative would have an inside track on an upcoming major product release from one of the world's most secretive firms.

Yes, there have been claims of a summer release of the device before, but if I cast my mind back just one year, I pretty much recall release rumors on almost a sequential monthly basis before the last iteration appeared. I have doubts. However go and take a look at the original here if you like.

If there's one thing in the notion's favor it is that Apple needs to maintain its momentum in its battle with Android. Apple's iPhone remains the biggest-selling smartphone, though it is losing a little marketshare in the USA, recent claims claim.

Dialling changes

What else have we learned about the future Apple smartphone recently?

Number One: A better display

As if the Retina Display isn't enough, Apple now seems set to field an OLED display instead of the LCD currently used. Why is this important? Because it promises even better graphics, higher resolutions and a reduction in battery drain.

Focusing on display improvements is important: Apple has correctly identified the display as the key point of contact between a user and the device. Each improvement in that display improves the user experience. And Apple is all about the user experience.

The displays will be made by Samsung, reports the Korea Times (Via Christian Post). You may even get the mythical edge-to-edge display this time around. Perhaps the display will be 4.6-inches, though I think resolution improvements may make a screen size increase less relevant.

Don't forget Apple's November 15 patent win for crack-resistant glass. This uses the same alumino silicate glass used in the iPhone 4 and 4S, but the glass is chemically treated to withstand greater compression on the surface and edges of the glass. This should make the iPhone less easy to crack.

A faster processor

I seem to recall some speculation last year which claimed the iPad and iPhone would set off on divergent processor paths. This could be happening, as the iPad exploits the A5X quad-core graphics processor, which has the additional horsepower required to run the Retina Display graphics.

The iPhone 5 will also require graphics horsepower, but its other prime design consideration will be the need to run on low power -- this hints we may see iPad processors developed to maximize graphics power, while iPhone chips are built to minimize power draw.

Both considerations matter, but it's possible Apple's chip teams will be electing for slightly different power/graphics consideration in each device. Particularly as the iPad now has the kind of sales volume you need in order to justify the expense of producing a dedicated processor for that device, in addition to that inside the iPhone.

Will Apple call the new iPhone processor the A6? Or will it instead field an A5X?

Better on battery

Battery life matters. As noted above, mobile device design must be predicated on low power draw. Recent reports that the iPad 3 runs a little warm to the touch confirm all that graphics and processor power imposes a penalty on battery life, which is why the iPad battery is bigger.

That makes battery design improvements another important focus for design in the mobile age.

At present product designers are making canny choices, balancing battery life with graphics and processor power. There's new battery technologies in development, but these don't seem to have reached market just yet.

Amazing software

iOS 6 with Apple Maps; a non-beta form of Siri capable of searching for business outside of the US and more capable of realizing when you are propositioning it; better GPS and turn-by-turn navigation features and more...but perhaps the most interesting features will be the introduction of support for the creation of 3D avatars for GameCenter and the likely introduction of 3D interfaces within some families of app (likely Maps and Games, I guess).

From the patent description, it seems these will be able to figure out the depth of what it is they are pointed at in order to create 3D images (which should look great on your Retina Display-style Apple television), will boast color accuracy and facial and gesture recognition.

Which sounds nice, though I can't quite figure out why we need to be able to flick our choice of hand gesture at our phone -- that's really not a good look on public transport.

NFC support, initially US-only iWallet features, ticketing and travel tools, and possible inclusion of a pico projector round out the latest rumor.

Disappointing LTE

LTE is still not ready for prime-time. If you are outside of the US/Canada, don't expect a 4G iPhone. Apple may relent and find a mobile radio which also works with 4G networks on the Asia Pacific, given the importance of that geography to the firm's future growth plans, but in general the confusion and disappointment around LTE/4G seems set to continue for some time yet.

Sure, if you are in the US it's fine to get excited, but don't buy the product on strength of US-focused 4G marketing.

For all the previous rumors, including some contradictory ones just to prove slavish attention to rumor is inevitably unreliable, now read The crazy Apple rumor guide to iPhone 5.

Got a story? Drop me a line via Twitter or in comments below and let me know. I'd like it if you chose to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know when these items are published here first on Computerworld.   

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