Next: iPhone 5 power connection, memory, RAM, battery

New dock (or no dock) This is a controversial one. Apple’s focus on continiously shrinking down its devices has seen a rumour surface that the company is looking to shrink down the Dock connector. The Dock connection first introduced on the iPod all those moons ago has become such a commonplace. Another speculative feature is that Apple will look to remove the dock connector completely, either replacing it with a MagSafe-style charging system (power only) and go with wireless syncing of its devices. One patent suggests Apple is looking towards putting a sync connection through the 3.5in earphone socket.

Wireless sync iCloud and iTunes Match all point towards wireless syncing as the future, but the device still has to get power somehow. This has led to speculation that Apple may be ready to introduce inductive charging, where the iPhone gets its power by lying on a flat surface which magically sends the charge through the case. Any removal of the dock connector would destroy the speaker ecosystem that surrounds Apple, which is hardly likely to enamour any speaker owners to purhcasing a new phone. We’re not sure if that’s what Apple wants.

RAM The great thing about predicting that the next generation of iPhone will have 1GB or RAMis that eventually you’ll be right. We think the time is more or less about right (we thought the iPhone 4S would have 1GB of RAM, although it doesn’t seem to suffer in any way for still having 512MB). If it needs 1GB to run whatever new feautures it has and it's presence doesn’t intefere with battery longetivity; we have no doubt it’ll get it.

Powermat inductive charging with iPhone

The iPhone with inductive charging plate

Battery life Apple has consistently been aiming for about 7 hours of talk time on the iPhone (and 10 hours on the iPad). Whatever new features are included we believe Apple will ensure that it still has the same amount of battery performance, which seems to be one of the key driving factors in whether people are happy with their phones in day-to-day use.

Shock, drop, and water-proof At CES 2012 two companies, Liquipel and Hz0, made a splash with technology capable of making gadgets completely waterproof. Not in the sense of an old waterproof camera, with its sealed case, but a regular gadget like an iPhone or iPad, with all the ports open and buttons unsealed. The new technology coats all the inside and outside of your device with a clear “nano” coating that repels water. Apple executives were allegedly impressed with the system and a rumour suggests that retail outlets in the UK are gearing up to change their insurance documents with regard to water damage. Apple has a patent regarding waterproofing the iPhone, so it’s clearly thought about it. Apple also has a patent on a system that prevents glass from cracking. The patent explains a inflatable mount between the screen and case that expands if the phone detects that it’s being dropped, as well as ‘exotic materials’ that prevent the glass from shattering (read more at patentlyapple.com). Add this to the tougher Liquidmetal case and it could be that the iPhone has a strong case, screen and is waterproof. It could be that the iPhone 5’s unique point is its strength and resiliance.

Apple waterproofing patent

An Apple patent for inhibiting moisture intrusion (or waterproofing devices).

Screen size Oh will the iPhone have a larger screen? Despite the complete lack of any indication, or inclination, patent or – as far as we can see – any reason for Apple to include a larger screen, much of the chatter on the internet seems to suggest that Apple must be working on an iPhone with a 4in screen. Some of this seems to be firming up into fact, however, and The Wall Street journal has reported that Apple has ordered 4in screens for the next iPhone: bigger is always better, right? We’re not 100 per cent convinced but Apple is also apparantly capable of pushing a 4inch display into the same size of the iPhone 4 (the screen would run edge-to-edge across the width of the phone). So it could combine a bigger screen with the same size device.

3D camera and display Apple has been patenting 3D displays, interfaces, and 3D camera systems for a few years now. So it’s obviously something the company is interested in. Mind you, so seems to be the entire film and television industry, but not so much – it seems – the general public. While 3D movies are doing reasonably well, the same can’t be said of 3D television and every 3D phone and gadget we’ve used has sported a seriously blurry display. We don’t think 3D is the priority it once was, and won’t add enough to the iPhone interface to make it worthwhile. Apple did recently file a patent for a 3D interface with eye-tracking technology though, so maybe one day.

Release date The next generation of iPhone will go on sale sometime between July and October. Our money is on September as that is when Apple launched the last iPhone and it seems the slightly later launch worked better with the new iPad coming out earlier in the year (with Apple’s new Mac OS X coming in the Summer).

Nano-SIM The Micro-SIM found in the iPad and iPhone may be replaced with a Nano-SIM that is almost a third smaller. You’ll likely not notice, but Apple keeps shaving off the size from SIM cards in its quest to miniaturize everything.

4G/LTE Support As with the new iPad, we expect the next-generation iPhone to feature 4G/LTE connectivity, which also has no supporting network here in the UK. The advantages of 4G/LTE are principally wider area coverage, faster speed, and a more reliabily persistent connection. But the networks are due to arrive till next year so Apple may not use the 4G branding in the UK.

Price Apple has consistently released each iPhone model at around £500 (unlocked) or has been available on a two-year contract from around £35 per month. Budget models come in the form of last year’s model still on sale. So expect the iPhone 4S to become the budget model, when the iPhone 5 comes out.

Name Though the next iPhone will be the sixth-generation, many people throughout the industry are currently still referring to it as the iPhone 5. It is thought, however, that the next iPhone will follow the naming conventions of the new iPad, scrapping numbers all together.

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