iPhone 5's the Charm
Apple improves on the smartphone darling in five key ways
Let the pandemonium begin!
Today, Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 5. People have been waiting for the sixth-generation cell phone for a while, especially since last year’s Apple device, the iPhone 4S, was more of a stop-gap than a full upgrade from the previous iPhone 4 (the 4S added Siri, the often-mocked voice-activated secretary).
So geeks and gadgethounds are already pulling out their wallets for the expected mid-September launch, but should you? Getting a new iPhone requires a two-year cell phone commitment, so it could cost you a contract-breaking fee, if you’re currently committed, along with the expected couple hundreds of dollars for the actual phone. And, as of now, only AT&T, Sprint and Verizon are getting with the iPhone program (sorry, T-Mobile users).
Most importantly, if you are one of the millions already using an iPhone, you have to weigh dropping even more money for the upgrade.
Here are five things we’re expecting Apple to add to the new iPhone 5.
4G LTE – Yes, 4G has been around for a minute, especially for Google Android and Blackberry users, and virtually everyone else aside from iPhone fans. Insiders think Apple will finally jump on the 4G LTE bandwagon, which is great for us. The leap from the iPhone’s current 3G to 4G LTE is comparable to going from dial-up to cable broadband on your computer.
The change will definitely affect data plans, too, which increased in price and structure after the iPhone moved from 2G to 3G. And you may as well say goodbye to unlimited data plans, as setting up 4G is expensive for carriers.
Maps and a New Siri – If you have an iPhone 4 or 4S, you will definitely get some of the benefits from the new iOS 6 operating system coming after the iPhone 5 launch. What’s unclear is how many benefits you’ll be missing by not getting the iPhone 5.
For instance, the new 3D map app looks like it will be supported in the latest iPhones, but Apple’s new turn-by-turn navigation – like the stand-alone GPS you can buy – may only be on the iPhone 5. Ditto for Siri’s advanced techniques that allow it to communicate with certain cars.
New Plug – Get ready to toss out all those classic iWires. After about a decade, Apple is likely changing the USB/wall plug wire format from the traditional wide 30-pin setup to a thinner 8-pin. In other words, that wire you use to plug your iPhone into the wall or into your computer will be useless for the iPhone 5. If you’re like me, you probably have a hefty collection of these wires sitting somewhere in your house to use on an iPod, iPhone, or iPad.
Why would Apple change things up and possibly anger consumers? Rumor has it that, by making a smaller slot, the new iPhone 5 has more room for cool features on the inside. And you can bet the same slot changes will be happening in the next generation of iPods and iPads, too.
Better Battery – Since the iPhone 4, fans have been vocal about the relatively weak battery life of new Apple phones. Signs indicate that Apple has finally made a more efficient energy system. It’s unclear how much of a leap the battery power will make, but it’s virtually guaranteed that it will be better than the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.
Techies are guessing that the battery issues were another reason why Apple went down from a 30-pin to an 8-pin plug, making the new iPhone 5 more sleek on both the inside and the outside.
Bigger Screen – Apple’s rival Android brands have been rocking larger phone real estate for years, with some mobiles as big as 5-inches wide. Feeling the heat, the next iPhone will likely be 4-inches wide, a jump over its 3.5-inch standard. The bigger screen not only means more stuff on the desktop, but better detail in objects on the desktop. Visuals will be much prettier on the iPhone 5.
Like the new plug, however, your current accessories won’t work with the new phone. This means your favorite iPhone case or cover will have to be replaced with a bigger one. New iPhone accessories sometimes take weeks to get into the stores and, when they do, they sell out quickly, so it may be a while before you’ll be able to protect your new device.
Damon Brown is author of the best-selling Damon Brown’s Simple Guide to the iPad, among other books, and is co-founder of the new app Quote Unquote. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/browndamon.