iPhone 5 rumour rollup for the week ending Dec. 31

iPhone 5 rumour rollup for the week ending Dec. 31

Joyful speculation in this festive season

The holiday season brought a stuffed stocking of iPhone 5 rumors to the iOSsphere, closing out 2011 with a whimper of joyful speculation.

Will iPhone 5 bloom in the bleak midwinter? Will round pixels dazzle our eyes? Can the same material used in beer cans elevate the Next iPhone to the level of complete redesign? Did you know the iPhone 5 is only waiting on Verizon to get its LTE act together?

CATCHING UP: iPhone 5 rumor roundup for week ending Dec. 23

You read it here second.

"I think the release of the iPhone 5 will be the pivot around which the rest of 2012 turns in tech." -- Alexis Madrigal, The Atlantic

iPhone 5, the "pivot" of tech in 2012, is due in first quarter

In the depths of winter, the next iPhone will bloom, according to Alexis Madrigal, a senior editor at The Atlantic, in a gushing post headlined "Looking ahead at tech in 2012."

Madrigal simply asserts that the Next iPhone "is probably going to come out in the first quarter of 2012." That would be less than six months since the release of the Great Disappointment a.k.a. iPhone 4S.

Not everyone is this confident. Stupid Apple Rumors succinctly comments on Madrigal's post: "Not going to happen and The Atlantic should stick to what it knows and stay out of the rumor business." An admonition that is probably doomed to be ignored.

Madrigal's post sets new standards for lack of details and thinness of analysis in iPhone 5 rumors, even for a year-end prediction piece. For example, he doesn't so much explain as celebrate the iPhone 5's importance: "It will be a huge deal," he says.

It will be so huge that all of us will "casually mention it in dinner conversations" and "strangers will talk about it on the bus," and our heads will be buzzing as a new ad campaign for it "worm[s] its way into our consciousness of cool."

"I think the release of the iPhone 5 will be the pivot around which the rest of 2012 turns in tech," Madrigal predicts. It will set "a whole new standard for communications devices."

iPhone 5 will boast "innovative display technology" -- round pixels and lots of them

Germany-based MacTimes has learned exclusively, "from a reliable source," that iPhone 5 will have an "innovative display technology ... based on adjoining and round pixels." The result will be "greater clarity and truer forms, especially in curves," according to the Google Translate account of the German language post.

The reliable source was pretty skimpy on details. MacTimes apparently speculated that Apple's "development partner" might be Toshiba, which demonstrated in May 2011 a 4-inch high-definition display, 1280 by 720 pixels, with a pixel density of 367 pixels per inch. That compares with Apple's current Retina Display of 960 by 640 pixels, at 326 ppi, created in part by developing pixels just 78 micrometers wide, according to Apple's website. That let Apple pack up to four times the pixels into the same size screen.

MacTimes admits that there is "still nothing concrete" about its Toshiba speculation, and offers no additional details about the allegedly innovative adjoining and round pixels, which it dubs with the made-up name "iShape."

Screens with 1280-by-720-pixel resolution are starting to appear on some high-end smartphones, most recently the LG Nitro HD, available in the U.S. on AT&T. According to Engadget's review, though the pixel density is just 329 ppi compared to 326 for the iPhone 4S, the higher resolution is noticeable. "LG's chosen to outfit the Nitro HD with a 1280 x 720 AH-IPS panel boasting 329ppi that bests Apple's Retina display ... and it shows," according to Engadget's reviewer. "The screen is simply gorgeous, rendering fonts and icons with a smooth distinction you'll likely take for granted. Colors are vibrant and accurate, sidestepping the over-saturated pizazz typical of rival Super AMOLED tech for a more restrained performance."

Another smartphone with 1280-by-720-pixel resolution is the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, available on Verizon.

With a new pixel design, "Apple wants to push the built-in Super [sic] Galaxy Nexus HD AMOLED display screen from the throne," according to MacTimes via Google Translate. "Realistically, one would be dimensioned with 1280x720 pixel resolution, it could thus [show] 720p quality movies in real play."

iPhone 5 will have aluminum back plate, rubberized bezel, redesigned antenna

From a "close source," whatever that means, Boy Genius Report has learned that the Next iPhone will have a back plate made of the same material used in beer cans, and a rubberized bezel or edge.

According to the headline for Jonathan S. Geller's BGR post, this aluminumation qualifies as a "completely redesigned" iPhone 5, to be launched in the fall of 2012.

The bezel material will marry the glass face to the iPad 2-like back plate and it will cover a "redesigned antenna system that surrounds the device." This latter covering will let Apple "build the rear case out of aluminum without having to use a large plastic insert above the antennas as the company does on its iPad 2" 3G models, according to Geller.

He's referring to the black plastic cover over the GSM or CDMA antennas at the top rear of the iPad models configured with 3G connectivity. You can see the antenna innards in this iFixit teardown of the iPad (see Step 2).

In the current iPhone 4 and 4S, the antennas are built into the flat aluminum bands that form the phones' exterior sides. Geller seems to be saying the iPhone 5 antennas will be moved either to the interior of the phone or at least under the phone's new rubberized "edge."

Despite the fact that Geller cites only one "close source," other tech sites, like iPhoneFAQ, arbitrarily expanded this to "sources." Much more authoritative.

iPhone 5 will have quad-core A6 chip because iPad 3 will have it

"A6 CPU For iPhone 5 Looking More Likely, But Probably Not Till Fall 2012," is the headline for Charles Moore's speculation at The iPhone 5 News Blog.

Moore says he's "been of a mind" that Apple would introduce the quad-core A6 processor first on the iPad and then on later iPhone models. "However, I may have been mistaken about that," he now admits.

He references a DigiTimes story, which cites the usual anonymous sources among Apple's supply chain partners to the effect that the next iPad models due in 2012 will use the Apple-designed quad-core A6 processor for the first time. Currently, iPad 2, and iPhone 4S, use the dual-core A5.

"And if the iPad 3 does indeed turn out to be powered by A6 silicon, it will be a strong indicator that the iPhone 5 will be likewise equipped," Moore claims. Yet nowhere in his post does he explain why it would be an indicator.

His assumption seems to be simply that the iPad 2, released in March 2011, first used the dual-core A5 chip, which was then introduced six months later in the iPhone 4S, and this sets the "pattern" of Apple's CPU introductions.

A quad-core CPU, a larger, higher-resolution screen, and support for LTE are all touted as desirable in iPhone 5, if not absolutely essential to stave off the Android onslaught of phones that currently offer such features.

Yet all three features require more power, which can dramatically reduce battery life. Apple doesn't like to reduce battery life, even a little.

iPhone 5 will be delayed because of Verizon's LTE network problems

Like a magician, David Magee at International Business Times pulled this rumor whole from his hat. Let's call it "LTEgate."

The somewhat confusing and confused opening sentence of the post reads: "Apple's highly-anticipated iPhone 5 is expected to be released in 2012 with a radical new design and new features including LTE 4G capability may get delayed due to problems Verizon is having with its network."

So the iPhone is expected to be released in 2012 but whenever it's released it will be later than planned because of the Verizon network problems.

Magee bases this speculation on Kevin Fitchard's GigaOM interview with Verizon Wireless' vice president of network engineering, Mike Haberman, who talked about the carrier's LTE "growing pains," including a trio of outages and disruptions during December.

None of those approached the magnitude of last April's software bug in Verizon's IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS, the replacement for the older signaling architectures), which crippled LTE service nationwide.

But neither Fitchard nor Haberman ever mention the iPhone, let alone the iPhone 5.

But Magee is able to see beyond the surface, deep into the underlying thinking of Apple's senior management. He recycles the persistent conviction among many in the iOSsphere that the true iPhone 5, with LTE support, has been ready for months. "It's not that Apple didn't have the new iPhone ready," Magee declares. "It's that the network isn't ready for Apple's new iPhone."

It's never clear where the ready-to-go iPhones are physically located in this scenario. Perhaps they're stored at Apple's Cupertino headquarters, or maybe in its massive, new North Carolina data center, visible from space, or they're moldering on pallets at a Foxconn assembly plant in China. iPhone 5s longing to be free.

"Verizon is planning to update its IMS software and taking other steps to minimize outages, but one can't help but believe that Apple has no interest in releasing its LTE 4G compatible iPhone until the network outage issues are solved," Magee continues. "Sure, users would understand it's the network not the iPhone, but Apple also understands its product would suffer the consequences."

The special beauty of this rumor is that Magee doesn't have to pretend there's even one source for it. It's just, you know, obvious, once you have insight into Apple's "interest" and what it "understands."

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: Email: Blog RSS feed:

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