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15 things we want in the iPhone 5

With less than six months before Apple is expected to unveil the next-generation iPhone, what do we want -- and need -- in a new smartphone?
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By Zack Whittaker, Contributor on
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1 of 16 Zack Whittaker/ZDNET

Apple is expected to announce the next-generation iPhone in the coming months, at the end of Q2 or early Q3. With an October release penciled in by analysts, we have less than six months before the world's most popular smartphone hits the store shelves.

Since the iPad 3's release earlier this month, Apple has given us a glimpse as to what could be coming in the next iteration of its smartphone, the iPhone. We'll explore what consumers and business users want in a smartphone, as well as giving a prediction score to gauge the likelihood of Apple implementing such a feature into the smartphone.

Feel free to leave your own comments on what you would like to see in the next iPhone.

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2 of 16 Zack Whittaker/ZDNET

Apple brought out the iPad 3 with an advanced A5X dual-core processor with quad core graphics. This gives some serious 'oomph' to the tablet, allowing fantastic games with extremely high-definition graphics to be played. Amidst 'Warmgate', where the device was tested to be 13°F hotter than the iPad 2 at its peak, Apple could still throw in a faster processor to make the smartphone one of if not the most powerful smartphone in the world.

But Apple could always keep the A5X processor in the iPhone 5. With a smaller screen size, yet still powerful Retina display; it may not even be necessary for an A6 chip. Frankly, it all depends on 'Warmgate' and how that plays out, and how much memory and processing capacity iOS 6 needs to run.

Probability: 8/10.

Image source: IntoMobile.

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3 of 16 Zack Whittaker/ZDNET

The iPhone 3GS is a delight to hold in your hand. It has a curved back allowing it to fit comfortably in your palm, whereas the iPhone 4 and 4S has a 'cutting' feeling when it is gripped due to its lack of curved edges. The iPhone 4 and 4S doesn't feel uncomfortable to hold, but it is not as ergonomic as the iPhone 3GS.

Besides, between the iPhone 3G and the 3GS, and the iPhone 4 and the 4S, it is about time Apple updated the smartphone's design. It is all but inevitable that Apple will change the design somehow, and the chances are it will be thinner and with a curved backing. The more the iPhone 5 can feel like the fourth-generation iPod touch, the better.

Probability: 5/10.

Image source: CNET/CBS Interactive.

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Just as we saw with the iPad 3, it's highly likely if not inevitable that the iPhone 5 will come with next-generation 4G LTE mobile broadband, which puts 3G and HSPA+ speeds to shame. With tethering, it means mobile data users can hook up their iPhone 5 to their laptops and browse the web at blisteringly fast speeds.

But due to the incompatibilities between the 4G providers, it will mean Apple will have to provide two different iterations of the iPhone 5, just as it did with the iPad 3. Another problem for international customers is that Apple is suiting 4G for its mass U.S. audience rather than other countries around the world. In the UK, for example, the equivalent 4G band is reserved for free-to-air digital television, meaning UK and Europe will not have 4G working on their iPhone 5. Bad luck, as always.

Probability: 8/10.

Image source: Apple.

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5 of 16 Zack Whittaker/ZDNET

Apple has prided itself on bringing touch technology to the wider market. Ever since the original iPhone, it has put other touch-based smartphones to shame, and while others have caught up, rivals have yet to match the essence Apple captured with its unique technology.

But the BlackBerry, despite the company coming close to collapse, still engages the enterprise market with its range of physical keyboard enabled devices. It's one of the many reasons why I personally switched back to the BlackBerry. But the day that Apple takes a leaf out of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion's book is the day it dips from $600 a share down to $15 a share.

Keyboard lovers, we can live and hope. With Apple's increased iOS-ification of its OS X platform, it's highly unlikely we'll see an iPhone with a physical keyboard. Shame.

Probability: 1/10.

Image source: YouTube.

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6 of 16 Zack Whittaker/ZDNET

Apple and Google's rivalry has increased over the years, particularly in the smartphone patent wars arena. Google has its wireless payments system in place, and Apple will likely want to offer its own solution. Plus, with an 'iWallet' patent submitted earlier this year, it is increasingly likely that an NFC-enabled mobile payments system will be worked into the next-generation smartphone.

Apple rarely jumps on the developing technology bandwagon. It tends to wait until a new technology has evolved to the point it can justify implementing it into one of its devices. 4G LTE is a prime example of Apple holding its ground until the market matures. Eventually it hit the tipping point to which it couldn't ignore.

Probability: 7/10.

Image source: CNET/CBS Interactive.

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7 of 16 Zack Whittaker/ZDNET

The iPhone 4S currently ships in iterations of 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB memory sizes. The iPad also comes with the same size ranges, despite the iPad 3 having a greater focus on high-definition video playback.

An expandable mini-SD card slot is featured in nearly every other smartphone on the market, with the exception of the iPhone. It allows users to expand the device's memory sometimes by tenfold or even more. If you run out of space on an iPhone, you have to delete a bunch of content, or upgrade to an iPhone with greater memory capacity.

Then again, even if you bought a 64GB iPhone, you really would struggle to fill it, even if you had a dozen high-definition videos on there.

Probability: 3/10.

Image source: CNET/CBS Interactive.

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8 of 16 Zack Whittaker/ZDNET

This one is easy. Apple will surely issue its next-generation mobile operating system to the iPhone 5 when it is released. Besides anything else, the timing just fits. iOS 5 was rolled out with the iPhone 4S, and the last major update being iOS 5.1 was rolled out with the iPad 3's release. If Apple didn't release iOS 6 with the new iPhone, prepare for the Four Horsemen as the world will surely be coming close to an end.

What we know of iOS 6 is limited, and by that, non-existent. Provided 4G LTE and NFC technology is implemented at a hardware level in the iPhone 5, then software to support it will be added to iOS 6. Besides that, we could also expect updates to iPhoto, iWork, and iCloud, but outside of those realms, Apple will need to keep the 'most advanced mobile operating system' en par or greater in possibility than its Android rival.

Probability: 9/10.

Image source: GizmoInsider.

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9 of 16 Zack Whittaker/ZDNET

iPhones do not currently support push email, except through iCloud or Microsoft Exchange. iCloud email is not designed for business, and while Exchange email is, many are using alternatives to Microsoft's email system. This poses businesses a problem, as IMAP email is 'fetched' from the server at scheduled times rather than pushed directly to the device, meaning critical emails could be downloaded five or ten minutes after it was sent.

But the reason why BlackBerry devices offer push-email is because Research in Motion offers an email service that fetches your email from the server, like Google or Yahoo, and 'pushes' the email to your smartphone. Apple would have to invest millions of dollars in providing such a service for IMAP users, and frankly, the incentive just isn't there.

Probability: 3/10.

Image source: Apple.

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10 of 16 Zack Whittaker/ZDNET

This one is a tricky one, and involves a trip to Brussels. The EU-wide micro-USB port was agreed to be the sole data and charging point for all mobile devices. Apple agreed, along with BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, Samsung, Nokia and others.

Apple would lose millions, if not more, if it changed the iPhone and iPad 30-pin dock connector. To comply with EU rules, it created a micro-USB to 30-pin dock accessory, charged at a meager £8.00 ($12.70) in the UK, as a way of 'circumventing' the agreement.

Having a micro-USB dock on the iPhone 5 will be unlikely, but it would pave the way for an industry-wide specification. It would also means Apple would lose hundreds of millions in revenue through proprietary iPhone and iPad docks, accessories, and the entire third-party sector would have to rejig its entire stock. A nice idea, but still unlikely. We can cross our fingers and hope though.

Probability: 3/10.

Image source: CNET/CBS Interactive.

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11 of 16 Zack Whittaker/ZDNET

What is more likely, however, is a smaller, more condensed 30-pin port for the iPhone, as Apple continues its quest to squeeze even more out of the device size specifications. Apple could replace the standard and existing 30-pin connector with one that allows data and charging at current data transfer rates but smaller in width, making way for more hardware goodness.

This would of course mean that Apple would have to ditch its current lineup for new customers and build a whole range of new accessories, docks and connectors, and it would leave third-party accessory makers out in the lurch for a while. But it would give Apple more space to wedge in a slightly larger battery -- say to provide an equal and matching battery life of the iPhone 4S but while enabling power-hungry 4G LTE networking to run?

Probability: 7/10.

Image source: Telegraph.

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12 of 16 Zack Whittaker/ZDNET

There is no doubt that the glass on the iPhone makes it strong and near scratch resistant. The problem many face is that when the iPhone is inevitably dropped at some point, the glass smashes and renders much of the device unusable. Stronger plastic would make the screen less scratch resistant, but more durable when dropped.

Having said that, the Gorilla Glass used in the iPhone and iPad is 80 percent the size it was, lighter, and thinner, but offers the same strength as before. If Apple's component chain can offer even stronger, non-laminated shatterproof glass to prevent sharp edges and injury, it would be a blessing to iPhone users worldwide.

Probability: 7/10.

Image source: AppleMacRumors Forums.

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13 of 16 Zack Whittaker/ZDNET

It was expected that Apple would announce a cheaper iPad 2 when the iPad 3 was released. It was thought that it would also have slightly less flash memory storage to even out the $100 price drop. It didn't: Apple simply knocked down the price without making any adjustments.

One lead of business thinking was: "Why do we spend $499 on an iPad or an iPhone and only use a fraction of its memory?" Considering how expensive flash memory is, it would make sense to make a cheaper model with less memory for only business critical and basic productivity apps, and this could then go on to save us thousands across the organisation.

Apple could make a cheaper iPhone 5 model with just 8GB instead of 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB, which could then pass the savings onto organisations. It's entirely possible, but as per the prediction rating, it's more likely to be a case for the iPhone 5's predecessor than the upcoming smartphone itself.

Probability: 5/10.

Image source: Apple.

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Many have asked for a device that offers a wider screen so that there would be less space between the edge of the device and the screen itself. It would be fitting with a massive change in design for the next-generation iPhone, and rival Samsung in its large-screen devices; some of which are more alike a tablet in size than a traditional smartphone.

This would, however, pose a problem for application developers on the App Store as they will have to adapt their applications to adjust to the wider screen. It would fragment the App Store and mean only certain applications would be able to be run on the iPhone 5, leaving many legacy applications out in the cold or accessible but with a thick bar on either side of the application to accommodate the wider screen. It would also pose a problem for Apple itself as it would need a more powerful A6 chip to push even more pixels to its Retina display screen. It's a nice idea, but ultimately unlikely.

Probability: 3/10.

Image source: CNET/iDealsChina..

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For families, there can be more smartphones and tablets in the house than there are wall sockets for charging, let alone cables to charge them with. Apple could include a charging loop to allow users to place their handheld devices on a mat, which would wirelessly charge their devices.

There are no widely available smartphones with wireless inductive charging that are currently on the market. Apple could set a precedence with the iPhone 5 and make it not only one of the most powerful devices on the market, but also one of the most user friendly and 'simple' devices. An electronics utopia exists where we simply place our smartphones down and they charge without any wires.

With this, however, it would cause a further knock-on effect to its third-party accessory makers which could render not only their products mostly useless, but Apple's own range of docking and charging products useless. With this, it's entirely possible if Apple wants to do it, but unlikely.

Probability: 3/10.

Image source: ZDNet/Powermat.

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16 of 16 Zack Whittaker/ZDNET

Many phones offer 10+ megapixels in their back-facing smartphones. Many offer front-facing cameras to support third-party applications like Skype and other video-conferencing services. With so many using their iPhones and iPads as alternatives to traditional cameras and DSLRs for ease of use and simplicity, Apple need to pander to the wishes of the photo taking collective and boost at least its back-facing camera to 10+ megapixels.

Apple already has to stretch its resources with the limited depth of the iPhone, just over a third of an inch. It would be difficult, but not an entirely out of the question request for a boost in resolution for image capture.

Probability: 9/10.

Image source: Apple.

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