iPhone 4G What To Expect And What Not To
The iPhone 3GS has been around for almost a year now. Even though it released in India just last week, it has been selling in the U.S. since the past nine months. Come June and we will witness the launch of yet another iPhone. This got us wondering how the new generation iPhone will be. What new features will Apple add to it? Will it be a major update or will it have just minor improvements, so that the device remains fresh without stealing too much thunder from the other major release of the year – the iPad. So we put on our thinking caps and set down what we think the fourth generation iPhone will come out with. As usual, if you have anything more to add, please do so in the comments section below.
One thing you expect from newer versions of Apple products is; they will be slimmer and lighter than their predecessors. Unfortunately, that has not been the case with the iPhone. From what we understand of Apple so far, if it is physically possible to make something smaller, then they will make it. However, it seems that with the iPhone they just couldn’t and each new version came with the exact same dimensions as the older one.
The reason for this could be because Apple kept adding new features to the iPhone with every new version. Newer features also require more power and hence a bigger battery. This is why they couldn’t make the device smaller as it would then require a smaller battery.
With the fourth generation iPhone, we feel that Apple, instead of adding more features to the phone, will instead concentrate on how they would fit the current features into a slimmer and lighter body.
However, that would mean the fourth gen iPhone will have a fully plastic rear, just like the current iPhone 3G and 3GS, as it would be impossible to fit all the radio antennas inside a slim metal casing without disrupting their functionality. This was the reason for them to move away from the full metal back of the first generation model.
Another theory of ours is that instead of a slimmer body they will retain the current dimensions and instead make the rear side resemble the one on the iPad Wi-Fi + 3G model. This model of the iPad has a black plastic strip at the top where it hides the radio antennas. Since the iPhone has the exact same radio units inside the 3G model of iPad, it would work just fine. This would also make the iPhone a part of the ongoing aluminum-ising of Apple’s product line.
Conventional wisdom suggests that Apple would equip the iPhone 4G with a higher resolution display, possibly even an OLED display, like the one on the Nexus One. But I have reasons to believe that neither would happen. Allow me to explain.
First I’ll explain why I think Apple won’t bump up the display resolution on the iPhone. The reason is simple: apps.
The iPhone currently has 150,000 applications for it on the App Store, all designed to work for one resolution: 320 x 480. If tomorrow Apple introduces an iPhone with a higher display resolution, all the current apps would have to scale to fit the higher resolution display, just like they currently do on the iPad. They will work, but they won’t look good.
But that’s just one issue. What about applications that will be created after the iPhone 4G if a higher resolution display is released? The developers will then have to write apps that would work on the new as well as the old low resolution iPhones and iPod touches. They cannot ignore the new ones because higher pixels would let them do a lot of interesting UI changes and they cannot ignore the older ones because there are millions of them out there. This will be troublesome for developers and I doubt Apple would allow this to happen.
Also, an increase in resolution will necessitate changes in the UI and basically the OS itself. And since the iPod touch runs the same OS, it will have to be given the resolution bump as well or else Apple would have to keep working on two OSes simultaneously, which they wouldn’t want to. Also an increase in resolution would also necessitate an increase in size of the device, which somehow I doubt Apple would do. So all in all, it seems to me that an increase in screen resolution seems unlikely, at least for now.
But does this mean the iPhone will never get a higher resolution display? Who know, maybe it will, if Apple manages to solve the above mentioned problems somehow.
Now I’ll explain the OLED part of the argument. Now this time I don’t have any solid reasons to back it up but just a gut feeling that says “they won’t do it”. I’m not saying that Apple hates OLED or anything. It’s just that they don’t find it worthwhile enough right now, just like Blu-ray. Plus they are heavily into the LED-backlit LCD panels now and their latest obsession is with IPS technology. I doubt they would use IPS technology on the iPhone as it wouldn’t make much sense but what I doubt even more is Apple using OLED on the iPhone or on anything for that matter for the foreseeable future.
Long story short, we think the iPhone 4G might just sport pretty much the same display as the current model. However, you can expect minor improvements. It’s not as if the display on the current iPhone is at the pinnacle of LCD technology and performance, and it can definitely be improved further without adopting any new technology.
The current iPhone 3GS has a 3.2 megapixel camera with autofocus and also capable of recording videos in VGA resolution at 30 FPS. When asked about the fourth generation model’s camera, our theory is that the resolution of the still camera will remain pretty much the same. Apple is not a big fan of high resolution cameras or else they wouldn’t have launched their first phone with a 2 megapixel camera.
Another reason why I don’t think the camera resolution won’t increase is because of what we discussed earlier, the size. A higher resolution sensor also takes up more space inside the casing. Now if Apple is looking forward to make the iPhone slimmer, putting in a higher resolution camera would be the last thing they would want to do. You might then ask what about phones like the HTC HD2, which are pretty slim and yet has a high resolution camera. Well, in case of the HD2, the lens juts out considerably from the body – something you will never find on any Apple design. So, yes, the camera stays as it is.
Video has become a big deal for Apple recently. They put video recording on the iPhone 3GS and gave a convenient option to upload it on YouTube. They even went ahead and fit in a camera on the iPod nano. Not just any camera, but a video camera that records just videos. Also, recently we have observed Apple talking a lot about HD videos in particular. They talked about HD video playback on their Macs, they also talked about the HD video playback on the iPad. This leads us to believe that there is a possibility of the iPhone 4G actually recording videos in HD resolution. Maybe not full 1080p but definitely the 720p variety. Considering that Apple seems to have no plan to enter the digital camera market, they might as well make their iPhone do all the work.
I doubt Apple would advertise the iPhone 4G’s HD viewing capability though, well apart from the ones that it records. They would rather want you to do that on the iPad (which means you probably won’t get YouTube HD app on the iPhone 4G). Viewing HD videos on that low resolution screen won’t be much fun.
We have a feeling that the iPhone 4G might have an FM radio built-in. The reason for this is the appearance of FM radio on the iPod nano recently. Apple vehemently avoided FM radio in their music players all this time, and then suddenly one day they decided to put it in the iPod nano. They even went ahead and put in the Live Pause function for the radio, which no one else offers. Also, when the iPod touch 3rd generation came out last year, the guys over at iFixit discovered during one of their usual product breakdowns that the latest generation touch actually has an FM radio receiver built inside but is disabled for some reason.
This strengthens our beliefs that the iPhone 4G would have an FM radio built-in. Apple would also issue a firmware update to the current iPod touch owners, which would unlock the dormant FM receivers inside their devices and then everyone can go back to listening music the old fashioned way. I’m pretty sure the Live Pause feature of the iPod nano would be carried over as well.
I’m sure you are wondering if this is the hardware section of the article, and what the hell have I been talking about all this time? Well, here I’ll be talking about the processor; the heart of the device. The parts that make it tick. Well, you get the picture.
Before you start fantasizing about the iPhone 4G getting the 1GHz A4 chip from the iPad, we would ask you to stop right there and come back to reality. From what we think, the iPhone 4G will be rocking pretty much the same hardware as the current iPhone 3GS and there are two pretty good reasons for that.
First is that the hardware is pretty good and even though we have started seeing 1GHz smartphones like the Nexus One and HTC HD2, they run a different operating system. The iPhone OS can run smoothly on the current hardware so there is no real need to upgrade it. Even if Apple introduces HD video recording, it can still handle it. Remember the Samsung Omnia HD? It records HD video with the exact same hardware.
Secondly, a faster processor would require a bigger battery, something Apple could probably not fit in the current body; leave alone a slimmer one.
As far as the connectivity is concerned, once again we believe the iPhone 4G will be near identical to the current iPhone 3GS. There is a small chance that the Wi-Fi will be upgraded to support 802.11n, but that requires a lot of processing power, not to mention battery power. The iPod touch Wi-Fi unit is capable of 802.11n, as discovered by iFixit, but that doesn’t mean Apple will unlock it. It’s quite possible it is the same chip they use on the iPad, which does have 802.11n support. There is also a chance that Apple might come up with a CDMA version of the handset for certain markets.
iPhone OS 4.0
If there is one thing we are sure that the iPhone 4G will have it is OS 4.0. In fact, OS 4.0 would probably arrive even before the 4G model is launched, like they did with OS 3.0.
So what can we expect in 4.0? Well, the thing that we keep hearing most is the introduction of full-fledged multi-tasking, like you would do on, say, a Symbian or Windows Mobile handset. The current iPhone OS does support multi-tasking but it is limited to a handful of applications that have been built-in to the OS, such as Mail, Messages, Safari, etc. Third party applications cannot take advantage of it. However, there have been talks that Apple is introducing proper multi-tasking on 4.0.
The reason why Apple had avoided implementing traditional multi-tasking previously is because they were concerned that it would impact the battery life of the iPhone negatively. But if the rumors are true, then they have probably found a way to solve that problem. Or maybe it is just that; a rumor.
We might also see some improvements to the core applications. An updated version of the mobile Safari would definitely be nice. They might also replace the traditional Google search with Bing search (that is if the ongoing cold war between Apple and Google continues to rage). However, if they do that then they probably won’t just stop at Google search for Safari and would probably eradicate Google Maps as well, which I doubt they will right now. So expect Google services to be around for a while on the iPhone.
After the launch of the iPad, we have a feeling that some of the apps on the iPhone might take on a similar look and feel as their older siblings. So the iPod app could turn into the iTunes app and so on. Some people are even speculating that the iPhone would get the iBook Store, but we doubt that as it is one of the selling points of the iPad and Apple won’t take that away from it. Also, reading books on the smaller screen of the iPhone wouldn’t make much sense anyway.
Apple might even add Flash support to iPhone. Yeah, right! There are more chances of them equipping the iPhone with a rocket launcher than Flash support!
Well, that’s all we have for you now. But like we said, if you have anything else to add (and we are sure you will) then please mention them in the comments section below.
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