Perhaps it's the heat, but this week's crop of iOSsphere rumors is pretty lackluster.
No short-range NFC radio after all, unofficial official confirmation of a September release date, bizzaro logic that concludes the next iPhone will be an existing model that is already two years old, and some other cotton candy rumors that seem to melt away as soon as you've read them.
Perhaps it can all be explained by iPhone heat exhaustion.
Forget near-field communication for iPhone 5.
Near-field communication (NFC) technology has been, for years, one of those innovations that seems perpetually to be ready to bloom. It's been rumored for months that Apple would introduce it in iPhone 5, for mobile wallet and similar applications.
He points out that barely a year after the 4.0 spec was adopted by the Bluetooth Special Internet Group, and just two months after Apple took a seat on its board, the company introduced the first mainstream implementation of the spec, in the new MacBook Air models and the 2011 edition of the Mac Mini.
"[I]t looks likely that Apple fast-tracked Bluetooth 4.0's adoption so that the forthcoming iPhone 5 can use this technology with at least one Apple product, which could mean that the manufacturer is considering giving up on NFC altogether," Athow argues.
Bluetooth 4.0 introduces something called Bluetooth Low Energy, or BLE, which lets the radio consume about half the power of the previous generation. It was designed from the outset, Athow notes, for battery-powered handheld devices.
But the data transfer rate is slower, as slow as one-tenth that of traditional Bluetooth. That's offset by the fact a 4.0 radio can toggle between low and high power modes, according to Athow.
With Bluetooth 4.0, Apple eliminates the need for a second chip or chipset, and would still be able to shift to a higher speed connection when needed. "This more elegant solution would save space, decrease power usage and allow peripheral partners to slash their time-to-market," Athow says.
It's official: iPhone 5 coming in September.
A number of tech blogs and news sites picked up on deliberately vague comment by Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer during this week's earnings call. It's being interpreted as "confirming" that Apple will start selling iPhone 5 in September. Here's the comment, as carried by iPhone5gBlog.com:
"As we announced at WWDC [the annual developers conference in June], we have a lot going on in the fall with the introduction of iOS 5 and iCloud. We also have a future product transition that we're not going to talk about today, and these things will impact our September quarter."
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Based on that, iPhone5gBlog concludes that Oppenheimer "confirmed the upcoming sales of the next generation by the end of third quarter." This confirmation leads to "speculation that the iPhone 5 will be hitting the store shelves in September."
What else could it be?
The next iPhone will not be iPhone 5.
Relying on "some new information from an incredibly solid source of ours," BoyGeniusReport Editor in Chief Jonathan Geller says the next iPhone to be released will be a prepaid, lower-cost model, with a retail price no higher than $350, and no service contract.
And it won't even be a new iPhone. "It's entirely possible that the low-cost iPhone will in fact be the iPhone 3GS," Geller writes. Expect to see it "late August-ish," he says.
Geller says his source, or sources, also "theorized" that if the genuinely Next iPhone, however you define it, was a radical redesign, then we'd be seeing new third-party cases being prepared to fit it. Since we haven't, "it will mean there would be an iPhone 4S in addition to the prepaid iPhone 3GS available within the next month to two." "4S" refers a rumor that Apple will introduce, essentially, an iPhone 4 with a more powerful processor and a few other internal changes.
And on top of that, Apple will keep selling the current iPhone 4, so the company will "finally" have "a full range of devices in the lower, mid, and high-end price segments."
Apparently the incredibly solid source had no word on when the Radically Redesigned Really Next iPhone Known As The iPhone 5 would finally appear.
iPhone 5 (and iPad 3) will have high-definition displays.
Still more subtle, insider logic. The International Business Times headline actually reads, "Apple Gearing Up Displays For HD Movies On iPhone 5 and iPad 3," by Tyler Spear.
Like most iPhone 5 assertions, this one isn't based on much. Spear says, "Apple is dishing out more convincing clues that HD displays could be integrated in future devices." The convincing clues turn out to be a post from AppleInsider about how "major film companies have been submitting 1080p movie versions into the iTunes store. The rumors could run very well in line with the upcoming new version of AppleTV and iOS 5 which supports HD viewing."
So the rumor about iPhone 5 HD display is based on ... rumors about other HD stuff. "Those looking for HD playback on their iPad 2 can be assured that the current dual core A5 processor combined with the upcoming iOS 5 could make this possible," Spear writes. There you have it. And the persistent rumor that iPhone 5 will have the same A5 processor presumably could make the same thing possible on the next iPhone. If it is the next iPhone.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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