[ABOVE: A gesture of thanks for exposing Mike Daisey? This American Life journalist, Rob Schmitz, got a tour of the iPhone factory.]
When's the best time to launch?
These launch date claims are broadly in line with what I've been expecting, even on strength of last week's claims of a June launch. It just makes more sense to introduce the new product just in advance of Christmas/Thanksgiving. Historically, that pre-season pent-up demand was part of Apple's secret recipe for the success of iPod nano sales, after all.
So, what's the latest?
Claiming insights gathered through meeting Taiwanese and Chinese component suppliers, analyst Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets claims the next-generation iPhone will offer a 4-inch screen and boast 4G LTE connectivity. He also claims Apple is developing a 7.85-inch iPad mini, though this may never see the light of day.
"In our view, this will be the most significant iPhone upgrade with a four-inch screen and a new, sleek look that we believe will require a Unibody case," he said in a research note seen by AppleInsider. "This new, sleek look will be the most important reason that consumers decide to upgrade."
Open to question is whether a Unibody design will be compatible with the need to ensure good telephone and data reception.
With that in mind it is interesting to note a September 2011 patent application for a new iPhone antenna window. In this design the antenna would slot into the chassis with a seamless, almost invisible conjoin.
(White claimed the device would go into production in June with a view to a Fall launch).
White anticipates demand for the new phone will be "extraordinary", predicting huge sales as the company's stock surges toward $1,000 per share. His predicted launch point was echoed by a South Korean report late last week.
Mobile processor divergence
Apple is also working on a new processor for its phone. According to 9to5Mac, this will be an A5X-based chip, but will have been tweaked for the smartphone, rather than the iPad. This will likely involve battery and power management tweaks and some reduction in graphics performance in order to provide good battery life, I conjecture.
It's a step toward diverting processor design along two paths in future at Apple, with one strand for smartphones the other for mobile devices, in my opinion.
Apple is testing the new processors inside iPhone 4S casings in order to try to avoid its annual lost prototype tradition. 9to5Mac notes the change in internal model number for the iPod touch as evidence that a major upgrade will also be made in that device.
What else might we expect?
- A fully-working, internationalized version of Siri
- Better support for 4G networks outside of North America
- Apple Maps
- iTunes payments support via NFC are the current expectations.
That's on top of the improved display, faster processor and battery life enhancements. And will be coupled with numerous improvements within iOS 6.
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