We've heard a few rumors before about the iPhone 5, most notably that its launch has been delayed well beyond a typical June/July release timeframe. But in recent days, so much information has bubbled up about the next version of the iPhone that we're almost be tempted to wonder if it's not due sooner rather than later. Almost.
November 21 Launch Date in U.K.
U.K. cell phone retailer Phones4U has hinted it's received word from Apple that November 21 is the launch date for the next-gen iPhone, a Monday. If this proves true, and Apple holds to its recent plan of launching new iDevices in the U.S., U.K., and a handful of other nations on its first launch day, then we can expect a November 21 arrival in the U.S. too. There're a few issues with this rumor, starting with the indirect nature of the data from Apple, and the fact that Friday is Apple's usually preferred launch day for the iPhone—presumably to maximize the weekend purchase windows—but Apple seems to be changing its plans for the iPhone this year, so we're not sure.
Leaked parts, which are apparently from Chinese manufacturers scheduled to make parts for the iPhone 5 by the millions, have surfaced and seem to be hinting the flash on the iPhone 5 won't be co-located with the camera (they're very near each other on the iPhone 4). It's not a huge issue, in and of itself, but it may be a lesson Apple's learned from the white iPhone 4 fiasco—which apparently had an issue when the flash's light "leaked" into the camera unit. It is also evidence that Apple is tweaking the design of the phone to the extent that some earlier peripherals (and, perhaps, cases) won't work with the new phone.
Another leaked case, allegedly designed to support the iPhone 5 design, tells us that the flash may indeed have move, but more importantly it's a confirmation the phone will have an edge-to-edge screen that fills a square-edged chassis that is superficially similar in shape and size to the iPhone 4.
A bigger screen, presumably with the same "retina" resolution, will undoubtedly be welcomed by iPhone fans and will help Apple battle the array of Android smartphones that now sport larger displays than Apple's does.
Despite much speculation to the contrary, Bernstein Research is suggesting that the iPhone 5 won't support wireless NFC technology after all. Analysts suggest that despite the fact NFC could add $15 billion to $30 billion in revenues to high-end smartphone firms, the tech simply isn't ready enough to add to Apple's flagship device.
This contradicts many earlier rumors, and would leave Apple looking particularly isolated in terms of the on-rushing NFC revolution—a change that's seen Nokia and Google adopt NFC powers for their smartphone offerings.
Nuance Speech in next OS X, iPhone possibly?
Late last week, OS X 10.6.8 was seeded to developers—it's the most recent version of its next-edition Mac operating system, which is interesting enough by itself. However, hidden among the code was evidence that Apple has indeed struck a deed with Nuance to provide enhanced text-to-speech and speech synthesis powers in the next version of OS X. Naturally, with the recent reveal of some very smart text-to-speech and speech-recognition powers in a patent application directed toward iPhone tech, Apple observers are now pondering if the next big update to iOS, iOS 5.0, will bring enhanced Nuance-based voice tech to the iPhone and iPad.
Apple developer site hints at imminent iOS tweaks?
Anecdotally we've heard that Apple's developer website was briefly unavailable today, and when some Fast Company editors tried to access it they got nothing but Apple's famous yellow sticky note promising to be "back soon." It's possible that Apple is making changes to its site, which may be for technical reasons or to adjust terms and conditions (speculatively, the recent Lodsys lawsuit case against app developers could be to blame). It's also possible that an adjustment was needed to support a release of iOS 4.3.4—a new version of the iPhone OS that's predicted to solve Wi-Fi and 3G woes some users have been experiencing.
We're not sure about this though, as Apple wouldn't necessarily need to take the developer site offline for most routine changes. Maybe it's a small adjustment needed to support OS X Lion.
UPDATE: iPhone 4 ramp-down
Apple is now rumored to be ramping down production of the iPhone 4 in readiness for a ramp-up of iPhone 5 production—a move necessary to ensure all the supply chain resources line up. Meanwhile the iPhone 5 is perhaps going to be named iPhone 4S, borrowing from the earlier iPhone 3GS clumsiness, and it will have an 8-megapixel camera. LTE or other 4G solutions will be missing until the "real" iPhone 5 arrives in 2012, apparently.
UPDATE: New SIM standard in-bound, for skinnier phones?
Apple's taking the effort to go through all the right procedural channels to propose a new even tinier SIM card standard. It's smaller still than the micro SIM Apple first pushed with the iPad—and could allow for even slimmer, narrower cell phone designs. Is this too soon before the iPhone 5/4S for it to be implemented?
Read more: Most Innovative Companies 2011: Apple.