The iPhone 5 will most likely ship with a larger screen and 4G LTE. But Apple’s marketing focus for the next iPhone will be to show how it can completely change the way users communicate, shop, work, and have fun.
If you were to audit the iPhone 5 rumor mill this year, you’d come up with two or three prevailing story lines: the iPhone 5′s release date, and how much bigger will its screen be. 4G LTE was an earlier consideration, but now that the iPad 3 features 4G connectivity, the inevitability of the iPhone 5 being Apple’s first 4G smartphone is all but a foregone conclusion.
As a rule, speculative blogs and tech news sources are primarily searching for the answers to the release date and display questions. And in recent weeks, both of these story lines have become inextricably linked, thanks to a report from Reuters out of South Korea claiming a bigger 4.6-inch screen in production now for a June release date. But for as much as the speculation over the iPhone 5 is heavily focused on screens and release dates, I think that, in the end, Tim Cook’s iPhone 5 pitch will be mostly about how the iPhone 5 will change our lives.
There’s no doubt that a larger screen, A5X or A6 processor, improved battery life, and 4G LTE will all make a splash if they are included on the new iPhone, but they will most likely be a means to an end. While a new form factor on the iPhone 5 will grab people’s attention, I believe that Apple is looking to once again make software and functionality a primary focus, much like what it was with the iPhone 4S last year. Recently, rumors of NFC for the iPhone 5 have waned. But I believe that Apple is ready to move on this technology, and if they do, it will quickly become a defining feature.
Though Siri has already been launched, we’ve also heard about how it could become more advanced and intuitive than it is in its current form. An advanced Siri — sometimes dubbed “Assistant” — could extend its functionality into the Safari browser, and be able to answer more questions and perform for complex functions than what we currently have. In other words, Siri on the iPhone 4S may be just the beginning.
I also think that recent patent-based rumors that the iPhone 5 could become a universal remote control that reads and reacts to your television screen, as well as rumors that the iPhone 5 could end up being able to read facial expressions in photos and recognize faces, all point to Apple working towards injecting the iPhone even further into users’ everyday lives.
The iPhone 5 may also make an impression with an improved gaming platform — a trend we saw established with the new iPad — as well as a stunning new set of maps that would finally put their use of Google Maps to rest.
If we look at the New iPad’s launch event and the way Tim Cook presented it, the new hardware features quickly gave way to its new software. Sure, the retina display is incredibly advanced and impressive — but the display in the abstract wasn’t impressive; it only became impressive after we saw it working in tandem with new iLife elements: photos, painting, games, etc. The same goes for 4G LTE: it’s all just a bunch of numbers and letters, until we watch a streaming video or download something from the web.
There’s no doubt that a big display will be a welcome addition to the iPhone 5. But I think that, should Apple choose to increase the screen size, it won’t be just because. 4G, a bigger screen, a more powerful processor — it will all be just a means to an end. And the end ends with software that can truly change our lives.
By Michael Nace