Apple's next iPhone: 5 rumored features

The tech giant's next handset reportedly boasts plenty of new goodies.

By TheWeek.com Apr 23, 2012 3:51PM

Image: Apple © BECK DIEFENBACH//ReutersThe iPhone 4S may still be flying off store shelves, but whispers about the next iPhone's potential features are already beginning to surface.  The iPhone 5 (if it's even called that) reportedly will feature a a whole new redesign, and may hit shelves as soon as October, according to reports citing a variety of insider sources along Apple's (AAPL) supply chain. 

 

Here, five rumored features Apple could be looking to incorporate into its best-selling handset:

1. A new metal body
Apple's next iPhone will feature "a new chassis design," says Christina Bonnington at Wired. It may even be "housed in Liquidmetal, the commercial name for an alloy of titanium, zirconium, nickel, copper, and other metals." The "amorphous" alloy can be poured into a molding like plastic to produce ultra-thin and durable parts. When it hardens, Liquidmetal retains "high strength, high resistance to wear against scratching and denting, and [has] a good strength-to-weight ratio." Once cooled, it looks "smooth like liquid." Such an alloy may bestow the next iPhone "its special swagger." Eh, let's not get too excited, says Adrian Kingsley-Hughes at ZDNet. While Liquidmetal is indeed "incredibly tough stuff," it might not be that conducive to radio frequencies. Remember Antennagate?


2. A larger screen

The next iPhone may feature a much larger display -- possibly 4.6 inches versus its current 3.5-inch set up -- and Apple has already started placing orders to its suppliers, reports Reuters. While that sounds nice, making "a 4.6-inch display would mean that the size of the iPhone itself would be much larger than it currently is," says Jordan Crook at TechCrunch. And that doesn't seem realistic. More likely: Apple is working on a 4-inch display to "fit on to the iPhone at its current size." Keeping the same iPhone size sounds more like an Apple move, says MG Seigler at Parislemon. "A device that stays the same size, but gets a slightly larger screen for one more row of apps"? Exciting stuff.


3. Less glass

The curent iPhone's touchscreen uses two separate layers to achieve its effect: A touch sensor layer and an LCD display layer, which are stacked on top of each another. But Apple is said to be introducing "in-cell touch panels on its next iPhone," says Josh Ong at Apple Insider, which means the two space-hogging layers will be consolidated into one. That means Apple could produce an iPhone measuring just 7.9 mm thick -- noticeably thinner than the iPhone 4S's 9.6 mm.


4. 4G LTE ... and a better battery
Apple already introduced "the high-speed network on its new iPad," says Dave Smith at the International Business Times, which was probably done as a "practice run" for the iPhone. But the main problem with LTE is that it tends to "ravage battery life." If the company wanted it on the iPhone 4S, it would have had to "increase the phone's thickness" to accomodate a larger battery. Now that Apple appears to be shaving off millimeters here and there, the next iPhone could receive the bigger (and better) battery required to handle faster networks.

 

5. iWallet
On March 6, Apple won a "major patent" for technology called the "iWallet," says IBT's Smith, which allows users "complete control over their subsidiary financial accounts on their iPhones." The technology uses Near-Field Communication to make credit card transactions by holding the device next to a payment console, effectively turning the iPhone into a digital wallet.

 

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