There's no denying that Apple learned a lot from the Gizmodo-iPhone 4 debacle. Tim Cook was very clear about doubling down on Apple's security after this issue, and history has proven him right.
Last year we were all on the edge of our seats expecting Apple to release a redesigned iPhone 5 with a curved back, a thinner profile and 4G LTE. In return, all we got was the same iPhone 4 design powered by better specs with the iPhone 4S. The only hint that we had about the iPhone 4S' existence before the official announcement was just one leak of the Verizon iPhone's frame with a SIM Card slot, and still, we believed it was just Verizon's iPhone 4 getting world-roaming capabilities. In a way, we were all fooled, and even though the product sold well, that doesn't change the fact that all of us in the tech-world wanted a better iPhone.
Fast-forward to today, and we face a similar situation under a different scenario. Last year, the iPhone was still the top selling smartphone in the world. Even if the release broke some hearts, it still managed to double on the iPhone 4's sales footprint. Some of us have even considered the abomination of expecting yet another iPhone 4 design, possibly dubbed just the iPhone 4G as Apple's next device, powered by an LTE chip. Not that we didn’t wish that was wrong, but since the first-generation iPhone's design remained constant for three generations, anything is possible.
The reason why I mention that the scenario is different his time when compared to last year, is because the market has changed. Samsung's Galaxy S III has proven to be such a success, that it even outsold the iPhone for the first time ever last quarter. It's clear that Apple's next move needs to be bold whether they like it or not.
That said, we have seen tons of leaks this year of a possible iPhone 5 with a taller design, and lots of the specs that are already a standard among its competitors. Do you believe in these leaks after what happened last year? We'll share some of our thoughts on the subject, and then we'd love for you to join us with yours:
It’s been a while since Apple has surprised me in terms of hardware design. In the last several years, each of their new products have been predictable evolutions. So I like to think that I can easily predict what the new iPhone will look like, because there can’t possibly be that many choices: it’s going to be thinner, have a bigger screen, and be built with premium materials like metal and glass. The leaked images of the iPhone 5 are consistent with this train of thought: they show a thinner device with a larger screen and a glass front and metal back. What else could Apple do for a new iPhone? What other variables could they change?
Then again, Apple is one of the most secretive companies in the world. It’s difficult to imagine that parts of the new iPhone have haphazardly been in the wild for so long. But we saw it with the new iPad: previous to the release of the upgraded tablet, we saw parts leak that revealed the new iPad to have a larger battery and a thicker form factor. They turned out to be right. I think that we’re looking at a similar situation here where we have indeed seen the new iPhone, or at least parts of it. What I think we’re missing is that the new iPhone will have a handful of amazing new features that one could not deduce from leaked parts alone: new camera technology, something new with the battery, or a very innovative software addition (think Siri on the iPhone 4S).
Anton D. Nagy
I mentioned this on the podcast: Apple has been renowned for their ability to keep secrets; everybody in the business wanted to be like them, until the iPhone 4 was left on a barstool. Then I think all started to go south: we've seen leaks of the iPad 2 and then the New iPad (given they were just a couple of weeks/days ahead of launch) and now these iPhone 5 leaks are all over, some of them going as back as June.
For me the leaks (or at least what they try to describe and represent) are all natural ways of evolution for the iPhone. The design can be further tweaked and materials can be replaced/improved but the overall guidelines will probably be the same. Spec bumps are also not only welcome but obligatory, regardless if we talk widescreen, larger screen, larger battery, LTE, etc. I think 60-70% of what we've seen in the leaks will be shown on the stage. However, as I mentioned on another podcast, I think there will be set of iOS 6 features that Apple specifically held back for this event and I hope they're going to be exciting enough to counter all the leaks. The iPhone 5 will either be the worst kept Apple secret yet or their best con to date.
I guess I'm the only one that doesn't believe in the leaks, even though Tony doesn’t dismiss them nor approve of them. Surely the original leaks of the iPad 2 proved the speaker grill to be much less refined than the final product, and we can expect that same treatment to happen with iPhone 5, but I just find the leaks to be too cheap looking to be Apple.
Apple is famous for their way of prototyping lots of options before releasing a final product. If any of you read Steve Job’s biography or have watched the “Objectified” documentary, you’ll know that Jony Ive's lab is famous for allowing him to build almost anything he wants for the purpose of getting a feel for it, even before the product is sent to Foxconn for mas production.
I do believe that the leaks we've seen belong to real Apple prototypes, but like we noticed in the Apple vs. Samsung trial, the odds of any of these making it to production are at least one in twenty.
Do I like the iPhone design that I've seen in the leaks? My quick response would be "No". Having the back serve as the single hardware component that enables the device is definitely part of the Apple Unibody Macbook design, but having parts of it of glass and metal with color variations just doesn't seem like anything Apple has ever done. I honestly think this is just a dud that Apple has intentionally leaked to the market in order to push the media away from the real thing, and as we saw last year, this could be right.
Now that said, if this truly is the iPhone 5 we’ll see tomorrow, then Apple should be prepared to wow us with some unique software inventions for this device. Otherwise, they’ll disappoint once more since iOS 6 is anything but great.
The bottom line
It's hard to blame Apple for doing their best to conceal their next-generation product. Having every other company announce their fall line-up just a week before Apple announced the iPhone 5 proves to how even their own competition is waiting for this event. Whether any of us is right or wrong is honestly not as important as how crucial it is for Apple to completely renew the iPhone tomorrow in their event. The iPhone's success depends on it.
Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments down bellow. Do you believe these iPhone leaks are real or fake?