It’s that time of year again! At this point you’d be correct to assume it’s ApplEvangelist’s once-per-year post. This time it just so happens to coincide with a new iPhone announcement.
If you have half a brain you might be thinking that yearly iPhone announcements are fairly routine at this point. Forget all the holographic displays, laser keyboards, and see through designs that crop up on the Internet; none of that is possible at this point in a smartphone. But it’s always a safe bet that a new iPhone will come out looking much like previous models, have some nice spec bumps, a better camera, and probably come with a couple of marketable new features. That’s where the smart money is.
Tomorrow invitations should go out for a new iPhone event on September 10th. A week from Tuesday we will most certainly see a new iPhone 5S; looking almost identical to the iPhone 5 and having some performance improvements. Easy money.
But this isn’t a normal iPhone year. The landscape has changed. The normal pattern has to be disrupted, even if only slightly, in order for Apple to stay at the forefront of the mobile industry. How will they do it? Here’s what you can expect and maybe a few hopeful guesses.
If you’ve owned iPhones over the last 6 years, you know that with each new iteration of the iPhone operating system, improvements have been made and functionality improved. But on a purely superficial level, iOS has changed very little since it’s inception in 2007.
Though not unfamiliar to those with an iPhone in their past, iOS 7 is the biggest departure from the look and feel of the operating system since it’s introduction. For better or worse, user interface elements have received a very modern visual overhaul. There are new ways to interact with settings and notifications, more intuitive multitasking, robust sharing options, improvements to Siri, and a new Pandora-like radio service. Wrapped in the same package, the features of iOS 7 are enough to placate many users.
But iOS 7 will come to your iPhone 4, 4S, 5, iPad 2, 3, 4, and mini as well. And all free to you the user. So what miraculous new feature could be contained in iOS 7 for the new iPhone 5S?
Remember us telling you to forget about all of that futuristic stuff you read on the internet? Suspend that for just a moment and wrap your head around fast, reliable, secure fingerprint scanning. While not a sure bet for the iPhone 5S, all signs point to a fingerprint scanner making it’s way into the home button of the newest flagship iPhone.
To start with, the scanner would most likely be used only to unlock or authenticate your phone. But if true, it sets the stage for far bigger possibilities. Paired with Passbook, your iTunes account, and low-powered Bluetooth, a fingerprint scanner on the iPhone might open the door for real-time mobile payments, banking, security authentication, and even voting.
Color Me Bigger
In a world where consumers are easily bored by the tiny, super powerful computers that fit in their hands (sarcasm intended), some of the most welcomed changes might very well be cosmetic.
Count on Apple offering at least one additional color option for their top tier iPhone. While white with silver and black with slate are very appealing, Apple appears to be ready to capitalize on the trendy resurgence of gold. A new “champagne” and white iPhone looks to be inbound along with a 2007 iPhone-inspired throwback combination of graphite and black. That makes four color options in all for the new iPhone.
There’s also a good chance that Apple will want to differentiate the new phone by upping it’s base storage capacity. With the cost of flash memory decreasing, it wouldn’t surprise us to see the base model iPhone 5S start with 32 GB of storage with 64 and 128 GB options as well.
After all, Apple might very well want to keep 16 GB reserved solely for:
The All New iPhone 5C
There’s a commonly accepted assumption that the high-end smartphone market is fully saturated. In layman’s terms: all the people willing to spend a lot of money on a phone already have one. But the addressable market for smartphones is so much larger. A lower-cost iPhone might be the perfect solution for emerging markets in countries like India, China, and Brazil. It could also be just the catalyst needed in the US to push would-be smartphone buyers into the arms of Apple and away from Android devices.
But what concessions would have to be made to make an iPhone more affordable? Luckily, they don’t appear to be many. Rumors suggest the iPhone 5C will essentially be an iPhone 5 on the inside but with a plastic housing. The 5C could come in multiple colors (as many as five or six) and might retail for as low as $350.
Wait! What? $350 doesn’t seem like a bargain at all. After all, you can walk into any carrier store right now and get an Android for free with a new contract. Here in the US, you’ll most likely be able to get this phone for the same deal under contract, as well. But did you catch that last part? What most Americans fail to recognize is their indentured servitude to Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, etc. Buried in that ridiculous phone bill is a subsidy fee for that phone in your hand. You may have paid 99¢ for the phone upfront but the carriers are padding your bill for two years. You actually pay much more than the phone is worth over the life of your contract.
Now imagine a $350 iPhone you can buy straight from Apple. All of a sudden the power has shifted between you and your carrier. You don’t need them anymore, you already have a great phone. Now they have to actually TRY to earn your business and there is no longer a subsidy being added to your bill every month.
Coupled with an in-store iPhone return program and the possibility of financing a phone through your iTunes account, the entire carrier model in the US could be turned on its head.
It’s Apple so you never know. They may have something up their sleeve. Chances are we won’t see much else beyond iPhones and maybe updates to the iPod touch.
That being said, an iWatch concept might be introduced to get developer and consumer interest going and there’s always the AppleTV unicorn in the back of everyone’s mind. We think those things are coming, but later in the fall.
What do you think? Are you excited about the new operating system and possible updates to the iPhone? Let us know in the comments. And in the meantime, we will do our best to keep you up-to-date during this exciting couple of weeks.