Apple is always secretive about its new devices up until the moment that they are officially announced at major launch events, but that does not stop rumours and leaks emerging well in advance. At the moment the argument that is swirling around many media outlets relates to whether this year will see the emergence of an incrementally updated iPhone or a brand new, next-gen model, with the Apple iPhone 5S vs iPhone 6 debate yet to be settled.
A third strand to the speculation suggests that this year might also see the debut of a budget Apple iPhone which acts as a cheaper alternative to the flagship model. With the 2013 iPhone release window approaching rapidly, here is a breakdown of the rumours as they stand at the moment. And as always it is sensible to take any speculation with a pinch of salt.
The rumour which carries the most credence is the one stating that Apple is not going to launch an entirely redesigned iPhone this year, but will instead make a few tweaks to the hardware of the iPhone 5 and relaunch it as the iPhone 5S. This strategy would certainly fit in with Apple’s previous launch cycle, since it tends to unveil a truly significant advancement to the iPhone range every two years, which indicates that a full next-gen handset is not due until 2014.
If this turns out to be an accurate assessment of Apple’s plans then the iPhone 5S will probably stick with the same form factor and design as the iPhone 5. Reports suggest that the display will still be four inches in size, but could feature double the number of pixels in an attempt to keep pace with the 1080p panels that are now common on high end Android handsets.
Leaked images published by BGR suggest that the iPhone 5S could come in two new colours, with a grey and gold SIM card tray spotted.
It additionally seems likely that the iPhone 5S will come with a better camera than the iPhone 5, perhaps with a sensor resolution of 13 megapixels. This is quickly becoming the standard for range topping devices and would fit in well with the good photographic reputation that Apple’s handsets have developed.
iPhone Mini – The iPhone 5C?
A rumour running concurrent to those surrounding the iPhone 5S is one which argues that Apple will be releasing two phones this year, the second of which will cater to a budget crowd who might otherwise spend their cash on a low-cost Android phone. This handset is regularly referred to as the iPhone Mini, which is based on the assumption that it will have a smaller display than the flagship iPhone in order to differentiate it and boost sales.
Various leaks have also pointed to the notion that the iPhone Mini will use a plastic chassis rather than one fashioned from metal and glass, with a variety of colour options on the cards to help it gain that degree of youth appeal that will doubtlessly enhance its reputation. In terms of hardware specifications, the iPhone Mini could be in line with the iPhone 4S which came out back in 2011. This might not make it a particularly powerful handset, but it should be more than a match for the new iOS 7 operating system, which will of course be appearing on any new mobile device that Apple launches this year.
Though several names have been rumoured for this budget iPhone, the current favourite is expected to be the Apple iPhone 5C. With the C standing for colour, the iPhone 5 Color would launch a plastic backed smartphone available in 5 bright colours; yellow, green, blue, red and white.
Apple may have been consistent with the update cycle for the iPhone range in recent years, but that does not mean that it will not break with tradition and reveal a fully fledged iPhone 6 before the end of the year, leapfrogging the iPhone 5S denomination and gunning straight for the next generation. If this is indeed the case then there is a long wish list that fans will be trotting out in the hopes that Apple will fulfil it.
A bigger screen is arguably something that the iPhone 6 should offer, because compared to the five inch monsters that it has to go up against at the moment, the iPhone 5 is a bit of a pipsqueak.
NFC (near field communications) connectivity is another must-have for Apple’s next-gen handset, because this is another area in which it is a bit behind the curve. PayPal exec Michael Barrett made allusions to the eventual arrival of NFC on the iPhone in a speech made earlier this year, although it is down to Apple to actually pull the trigger and go through with adoption of this standard. Being able to turn your iPhone into a digital wallet might be a feature which convinces Apple’s legions of loyal users to upgrade.
2013 iPhone release
Apple could be unveiling the next iPhone and its miniature variant in September, so if you can hold your breath for a little longer all will be revealed. In the meantime. We calculate how much the iPhone 5S will cost.