Thinking of buying a new iPhone 4 or buying your first iPad?
The latest rumors have Apple unveiling its long-rumored iPhone 5 in mid-August at the earliest, sometime in September at the latest. A month later, there may be a next-generation iPad 3.
And all will run the new Apple mobile operating system, iOS 5, which you can read more about in "What Apple's iCloud Means For You."
To 4G or not to 4G?
Here's what the Apple cognoscenti doesn't know about the iPhone 5: whether or not it will connect to super-speedy 4G data cell networks for faster Web browsing, faster app loading and operating, and faster uploads and downloads.
As you might know, there are two different types of 4G an iPhone 5 could access.
There's LTE (which stands for Long Term Evolution, which you can now forget), the true next-generation 4G technology. Verizon launched its LTE network earlier this year, and has and will have the most extensive LTE coverage for some time.
AT&T, iPhone's primary carrier, has yet to officially launch its own LTE network.
Then there's HSPA Plus (High Speed Packet Access, which you also can now forget), essentially a souped-up version of the current 3G technology used in iPhone and by T-Mobile.
AT&T recently launched its own HSPA Plus 4G network.
You can bet your kid's college fund that the iPhone will NOT be LTE, even if the AT&T LTE network was ready. As anyone with an LTE device will tell you, the LTE connectivity drains battery life like Dracula sucks blood. At most, 4G phones continually connected to an LTE network will live, maybe, four hours.
For Steve Jobs, that kind of limited battery life is unacceptable.
So will the iPhone 5 be HSPA Plus 4G? It might solve some of AT&T's constant connectivity problems in major metro areas. But thus far there's been no indication whether or not the iPhone 5 will be a 4G phone.
If iPhone 5 is 4G, its got nomenclature problems (the 4G 5?). There has been speculation that the next iPhone will be dubbed the iPhone 4S, similar to the 3GS, which also offered speedier connectivity. A 4GS 4G iPhone? Makes a helluva lot more sense.
For the sake of consistency in no way reflecting my personal prognostication, for simplicity sake I'll just keep calling it the iPhone 5.
Other iPhone 5 attributes
Here's aggregation of current iPhone 5 speculation.
Form factor: Most observers believe iPhone 5 will look pretty much like the iPhone 4. But more recent rumors say iPhone 5 will have a completely different, thinner, more iPad 2-like sloping design, with a curved screen to keep adjacent prying eyes at bay and a tougher aluminum, instead of glass, back.
If the form factor remains the same, all of your current iPhone 4 cases and accessories will fit. A new design means having to shell out more shekels on new accessories. Thinner is nice, but I'd rather save some dough. But then, could you call a new iPhone with a radically new design an iPhone 4S? Wouldn't a new design demand a new model number?
My head hurts.
A larger screen: Considering the deluge of Android phones with 4- and 4.3-inch screens, Apple has to increase iPhone 4's suddenly miniscule 3.5-inch display.
If iPhone 5's form factor (and try saying that three times fast) is similar to the iPhone 4, Apple is space constricted. Apple can stretch the display bezel-to-bezel, increasing the screen about a quarter of an inch all around. That would create an iPhone 5 screen of about 3.7 or 3.8 inches. Nice, but I think we'll all be happy if iPhone 5 has a 4-inch screen – "4" is such a nice, round number, but which requires a redesign.
More power: iPhone 5 will certainly pack a faster processor, likely the 1.2 GHz engine currently found in the iPad 2, perhaps even 1.5 GHz (iPhone 4 uses a 1 GHz processor). This means everything loads faster and works faster. You will notice its zippy-ness.
More storage: I was really disappointed iPhone 4 topped out at 32 GB. But with the price of memory continuing to plummet faster than an iPhone dropped by a skydiver, the hope is iPhone 5 will be offered in 16, 32 and 64 GB versions, finally large enough to hold all 11,000 of my iTunes tracks. Although, with iCloud and the long-rumored Apple streaming music service, you may be able to settle for the cheaper 16 GB model.
Better camera: Or, at least a higher-resolution camera, probably 8 MP, which probably means full high-definition 1080p video recording (iPhone 4 records "only" 720p video).
But the better camera news is the rumor of a dual LED flash, which means brighter shots in darker locations. There's been some speculation the iPhone 5 camera will have 3D capabilities, to which I say BFD.
Better antenna: Or, more accurately, MORE antennas to minimize call drops and to access more global networks, which means…
More carriers: T-Mobile may become an iPhone vendor; there have been reliable reports of a T-Mobile iPhone being tested. But that doesn't mean we'll see one when the iPhone 5 launches. Verizon was testing iPhone for years before finally putting it on sale.
There has been a sprinkling of speculation surrounding a Sprint iPhone, which would be great because Sprint has a roomy 4G network (albeit with the same power-sucking issues as LTE), but I say it's unlikely, at least this year. Sorry, Sprint subscribers.
And that's all I've heard about iPhone 5 being ready, I can't tell you more 'cause I told you already, and here I am waving iPhone 5 rumors good-bye. Whoa whoa.
iPad 3 rumors
I apologize in advance for the cheap trick I'm about to pull. The headline, lead and photograph accompanying this article imply a new iPad 3 is coming this fall.
Yes, there may be. But if you want an iPad 2, go ahead and indulge, no need to wait.
If Apple unveils a new iPad 3 in the fall, it will likely be a more expensive "pro" version with a thinner, higher-resolution Retina display – 2048-by-1536 pixels, twice the resolution of iPad 1 and 2. An iPad 3 presumably also would pack a more powerful engine.
For most of us, that additional resolution and processing speed, especially for the expected price premium, is unnecessary. So forget I even said anything about an iPad 3.
Okay, I'm sorry for stringing you along. Sue me. But I could have said "nyah, nyah, made ya read!"