UPDATE: New information launch date and design
The iPhone 5 is barely out of its pristinely white box but already a flurry of rumours are hinting at the launch of its successor, dubbed the iPhone 5S. Believed to be heading into production next month, sources claim the handset could hit shelves as early as June 2013.
Had such rumours surfaced this time last year, we would have been the first to label them as rubbish, but the early arrival of two iPads – the iPad 4 and iPad Mini – in October shows that even when it comes to its product launch cycles, Apple can be unpredictable.
The Apple iPhone 5S could launch in June next year, with a range of different colour options for the first time, according to an industry analyst.
In a note summarised by Business Insider, Peter Misek of investment firm Jefferies & Co. claims that the next iPhone will arrive in June.
The iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 were both released closer to the end of the year, but it's not unheard of: both the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 4 came out mid-year.
Some of Misek's claims fly in the face of previous iPhone 5S details, including a purported image of the handset's casing - pictured below - taken on an assembly line, which suggests that the display won't be changing from its current iPhone 5 specification.
Apple, naturally, is silent on the matter, refusing to comment until it formally unveils the handset - roll on Spring!
UPDATE: iPhone 5S to go into production in March
According to Misek's latest information, his prediction of a June launch date is correct. The latest info comes from an analysis of Apple's production schedule, which has seen orders reduced from 40 million units to 30 million units.
This move obviously reduces the amount of stock and is responsible for what iPhone 5 sales "decelerating faster than expected", according to Misek.
The reason for the reduction in order numbers isn't because the handset isn't wanted, but because "suppliers seem to be prepping for iPhone 5S builds to start in March".
What this translates to is that Apple is clearing capacity to allow its manufacturers to switch to the new handset, while also reducing the amount of stock it has for the old phone, so it can concentrate on the iPhone 5S.
If this information is correct and the iPhone 5S goes into production in March, it means that the new handset should be out in June. Keep posted here for more information on the Apple launch.
In addition to a potential release date, Misek also claimed that the iPhone 5S will have a higher-resolution display than the iPhone 5, potentially based on the new IGZO (Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide) material. If true, it would provide the 5S with a brighter and more detailed screen than the iPhone 5, while also potentially dropping the thickness of the handset - albeit, only slightly.
This seems more likely following CES 2013, when the Sharp IGZO display technology was displayed for the first time inside a 32in 4K monitor.
That release certainly got the rumour mill going and it's been suggested that Apple has already approached Sharp about its technology, but not just for the iPhone 5S, but also for the upcoming iPad 5
Other claims made by Misek include increased storage capacity of 128GB - up from the maximum 64GB available in the iPhone 5 - and plans by Apple to release the handset in a variety of different colours.
UPDATE: NEW STORAGE INFORMATION The rumours of a 128GB version would seem to be true, as we know that Apple now has that capacity, thanks to the recent launch of a 128GB iPad 4.
Recently quite quietly, the new model doubled the maximum capacity of the previous high-end iPad (64GB). This update was said to be about increasing the variety of uses for the tablet, with Apple stating that more storage was good for large files for use in applications such as CAD and music production. It's also a more useful amount of storage for photos and videos.
The update to the iPad 4 was a completely new model with a new price, so we'd expect the same range of capacities and prices to be available from the iPad 5: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB. With Apple now using 128GB storage in its tablets, the question is whether or not it will provide the same range of capacities in its iPhone and iPad Mini range, too.
Given that the capacity is now available to Apple and that the smartphone market is even more competitive, we'd say that a 128GB version of the new phone is more than likely.
The purported iPhone 5S is also claimed to include near-field communications (NFC) support, a close-range wireless system already adopted by many Android smartphones - but absent from the iPhone 5.
Apple has traditionally alternated between brand-new designs and tweaked designs for its annual iPhone releases: the original iPhone was replaced with the brand-new iPhone 3G, which was tweaked a year later into the iPhone 3GS. The launch of the brand-new iPhone 4 was followed by the tweaked iPhone 4S design, while the latest iPhone 5 model represents a complete redesign once again.
As a result, it's little surprise to find that leaked details surrounding Apple's plans for the smartphone market in 2013 revolve around a tweaked iPhone 5 design dubbed the iPhone 5S, rather than a brand-new design that would launch as the iPhone 6.
While as-yet unannounced by Apple, images of the rear cover - below - for the supposed iPhone 5S have leaked from the company's manufacturing partners. Posted to the iPhone 5 Parts forum, the images show a tweaked design with the biggest change being to the mounting holes used to secure the smartphone's main circuit board to the casing.
Moved holes suggest a redesigned logic board, and a redesigned logic board means either new hardware or altered specifications. As a result, even from these small images, it's possible to hazard a guess as to what the iPhone 5S will bring: a more powerful, likely quad-core, processor with 2GB of RAM, possible near-field communications (NFC) capability to better compete with rival Android devices, and the likelihood of increased storage capacity.
UPDATE:According to new rumours, the iPhone 5S will look like the iPhone 5.
A recent report from an analyst has said that the iPhone 5S is going to look very similar to the iPhone 5. This information isn't based on leaked documents or sly shots of the device, but rather on Apple's quarterly filing with the SEC.
This financial document shows how much money the company has spent on things, and shows that two months ago Apple spend $4.5bn on equipment purchases, compared to just $903m the last quarter.
According to Morgan Stanley analyst, Katy Huberty, and reported on Business Insider, this shows that the iPhone 5S is likely to look like the current handset.
The argument here is that the larger spend from two quarters ago was when Apple was investing heavily in new screens for the iPhone 5. The decrease, therefore, is because Apple doesn't need new hardware for iPhone 5S.
There's certainly something to be said for this logic, as previous Apple phone launches have used roughly the same hardware for two generations.
That said, this is far from proof and could just mean that Apple hasn't started to ramp up production or invest in new hardware for its new phone. With no confirmed release date for the handset, it could be that Apple only started to buy new equipment after its SEC filing in order to keep its movements secret for a bit longer.
UPDATE: Leaked photos of the iPhone 5S appear to be clones
If there's one thing you have to be careful of when dealing with iPhone rumours, it's the amount of false information that's put out there. A recent 'leak' appeared to show the iPhone 5S being produced in a factory in China.
There are several problems with this scenario, including that that the phone doesn't actually appear to have gone into production yet and doesn't seem likely to do so until March.
Then, there's the fact that the photos of the innards seem to show lower spec components than Apple uses and that are often used by the clone manufacturers.
Steve Hammerstoffer posted a detailed rebuttal of the images, with an annotated diagram (see below) highlighting the problems with the images, including that the phones showed an SD card slot, the connector on the bottom wasn't lightening, a low-cost battery and a non-iPhone vibrator.
In other words, the leaked images appear to be a leak of a clone handset production line, rather than Apple's latest and greatest.
Don't believe every picture you see - this shot appears to be of an iPhone clone, rather than the real thing
While the iPhone 5S is likely going to look very similar to the iPhone 5, Apple's next phone, the iPhone 6, could be very different in deed. A graphic designer has turned to Apple's patent portfolio to produce 3D rendered images that guess at the design, features and functionality of the company's next-generation iPhone.
InventHelp's Nickolay Lamm has scoured Apple's portfolio of patents for recent filings that may point to research carried out for the iPhone 6's design, using them to provide details to a graphic designer to produce product renders that offer a glimpse of one possible direction the company may be taking for the smartphone.
"I feel that the sales success of the iPhone 5 overlooks the fact that it was a pretty boring phone," Lamm said. "I looked at all of Apple’s recent patents and chose four which Apple may include in the iPhone 6 or later version. I then hired a 3D graphic designer to illustrate each of these patents so that the illustrations were as realistic as possible. I gave him very specific guidelines to follow."
The designer, Matteo Gianni, has generated the photo-realistic images based on Apple's current design ethos, and has based their technologies on patents recently filed by the company.
Some features, however, are more likely than others: the suggestion that Apple's iOS platform will get integrated augmented reality functionality, dubbed 'Transparent Mode', seems more than believable, but the suggestion that the iPhone 6 will feature a hybrid LCD and E Ink display, capable of being viewed in full sunlight and boosting battery life considerably, seems less so given how recent the company's patent on the matter is.
Other suggested product features include a 'smart bezel' that moves controls to the edge of the screen, meaning it's possible to use the phone without obscuring the display with your fingers, and an integral projector - a feature already making its way to rival devices.
The image gallery can be seen in full on InventHelp's blog, but so far Apple is silent on how close to the mark Lamm's guesswork may be.
Rumours also suggested that it would be a [href="http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/smartphones/1297021/budget-iphone-5s-rumoured-to-launch-this-year"]budget iPhone 5S[/a] launched alongside a fully-featured iPhone 6.
According to reports, the budget model would let Apple compete against low-end Android devices, by using cheaper components and a plastic case to lower the price.
Apple has been quick to dismiss a budget iPhone 5S. Speaking to a Chinese newspaper, Apple's vice president of global marketing Phil Schiller denied that the company would make a cheaper product.
"Some manufacturers use cheap smartphones as a replacement for feature phones, but this is not Apple's product development direction," Schiller said.
Asked directly about possible plans to launch multiple devices aimed at subtly different market segments, Schiller was clear: "We are not like other companies, releasing multiple products in one breath then pinning their hopes on one single product to gain the favour of consumers."
That, it would seem, is that for a budget Apple phone, then.