In the run up to the October iPhone launch this year, most of us were expecting to be greeted by an iPhone 5. Rumours about the device spoke of a larger 4 inch screen, a new ‘teardrop’ casing and also a dual core A5 processor. Some of these rumours were backed up by leaked photos and cryptic comments from Asian companies in Apple’s supply chain.
While the larger screen rumour seemed to carry a lot of weight there was one rumour that many people felt was unrealistic. This was the talk of the ‘iPhone Nano’, also referred to as the ‘iPhone 4S’, which was to be a smaller version of the iPhone 5 aimed at the more affordable section of the phone market. This iPhone 4S was to adopt a similar design to the existing iPhone 4, rather than the new design of the iPhone 5.
This is why it came as some surprise to many people that Apple actually released the iPhone 4S rather than an iPhone 5. The latter had seemed like the most likely to exist, especially considering all the little tidbits of information trickling out of Asia. Despite the initial disappointment, more than 4 million people purchased an iPhone 4S contract in its first weekend of sale – making it the most popular smartphone of all time.
The lack of an iPhone 5 has led many to question the authenticity of the earlier leaks – putting them down to fabrication or well-crafted Photoshop imagery. However, it has come to light in recent weeks that there was an iPhone 5 due to be released alongside the iPhone 4S, just as the rumours had stated, but that this larger phone had been put on the scrap heap just a couple of months before its launch date.
The iPhone 4S incorporates many of the features that were rumoured to be in the iPhone 5, including the A5 processor and 8 megapixel camera. But the larger screen did not make an appearance, and it was this bigger 4 inch display that was the reason Apple chose not to release the iPhone 5.
Prior to his death Steve Jobs had halted to production of the iPhone 5, feeling that the larger screen would fragment the iOS experience. One of the biggest problems facing Google’s Android operating system is that the many different smartphones it runs on come with different screen sizes and screen resolutions. This not only makes it more difficult for developers to make apps for the platform, but also leads to a confused user experience, with each Android phone being too dissimilar to the next.
Jobs did not want this to happen to the iPhone, feeling that the intuitive experience available on all iOS devices, along with the excellent app development community, were some of the iPhone’s biggest strengths.
Jobs was particularly stubborn about matters such as this, although Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook is a little bit more flexible about the iPhone’s design. This is why Apple has reportedly revived the original plans for the iPhone 5, at aims to have the phone ready for sale by the summer of 2012.
Despite the possibility of fragmenting iOS, the iPhone 5 will come with a larger 4 inch screen as originally planned. This larger screen will make the iPhone 5 about 8mm longer than the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, and will mark the first deviation away from the 3.5 inch screen size that has been used on every previous iPhone.
This will allow the iPhone 5 to compete more easily against the current Android crop, with phones such as Samsung’s Galaxy S2 gaining a lot of popularity for their larger screens. These larger screens can be better for browsing the web or watching videos on YouTube, and with only an 8mm increase in size the iPhone 5 will still be as comfortable to hold as existing iPhones.
One thing that the iPhone 5 will not feature though is the ‘teardrop’ design. Instead, the phone will feature a similar flat edged design like the iPhone 4 and 4S. The teardrop was ditched as the new iPhone needs to make room for a larger battery, apparently to power its LTE capabilities. If this latter point is true it will mean that the iPhone 5 will be the first 4G enabled iPhone.
There was a lot of delay in releasing the iPhone 4S, with the October launch being far later than the usual June/July release date. This year however, the iPhone 5 should return the brand to its usual release cycle, meaning that people can enjoy this larger screened, 4G enabled iPhone by the start of the summer.