The next gen iPhone event is less than a month away and it might be called the iPhone 5S. As a current iPhone 5 user I have been pondering on the value of an upgrade from iPhone 5 to iPhone 5S or whatever it might be called. iPhone 5 is an excellent smartphone, no surprises here, after all it sold more than 30 million units on a quarter where every other smartphone suffered sales decline and even the analysts for once underestimated the sales of the iPhone 5. All this for almost a year old phone! I have been an iPhone user form the iPhone 3G days and I have had almost all models of it except the iPhone 4 (thanks AT&T for not allowing me to upgrade) .
iPhone has been my primary smartphone and though I have had some brief horrifying stints with some Android phones (loaner phones from Best Buy, when I accidentally dropped my iPhone in water). I am only one year in to my contract as most of the iPhone 5 users would be and if I have to upgrade to, lets call it the iPhone 5S, for simplicity, I am assuming I will be able to do a partial upgrade, where I have to pay $400 instead of $200 for the new iPhone 5S (base model). It is still not a bad deal, based on the iPhone 5's resale value, I can sell my iPhone 5 for more than $400 (to a private party or for lesser online) easily and break even getting the iPhone 5S. But what will motivate me to do so as someone who ranks between an average and a power user. Bear in mind that this article is purely based on the hardware of the iPhone and not on its software features, as iOS 7 is also on the horizon.
This is by far the most unofficially touted feature of all other smartphones and Apple took its own time to increase the screen size from 3.5" (till iPhone 4S) to 4" (iPhone 5). While iPhone 4S never felt small to use, once I started using the iPhone 5, there was no going back and iPhone 4S felt really small compared to the iPhone 5. But I still use my iPhone 5 with one hand and I can just reach the opposite corners with my thumb. This is a feature that is very important to me as most often than not I prefer to use the iPhone with one hand. I have tried to use some of the bigger screen smartphones like the Galaxy S4, Note and Lumia 920, and it was impossible to use them with one hand. It felt like using a small table like an iPad Mini and not a smartphone. I don't know if I would have gotten used to them if I had kept using them but certainly did not like the initial experience. Or in short while I would not mind a bigger screen than the iPhone 5's 4" screen, I would not want the one hand use of the iPhone to be compromised!
Verdict - Unlikely as no rumors have pointed to this change.
Better battery life
As I pointed out yesterday, the iPhone 5's battery life is one of the best amongst its class, I mean amongst phones that have a high resolution display and are not tablets! iPhone 5 is also one of the best built smartphones and this along with Apple's tight control of the software and services yield almost a whole day battery life (though it might need some tweaks to improve it further). The first time I handled an iPhone 5, it almost felt too light in the hands and was slightly uncomfortable. I have gotten used to it mainly because of the Incipio case I have on it. So while Apple's obsession with build quality has paid off rich dividends, it might be wise to get a bigger battery in the next iPhone at the cost of some heft. But knowing Apple, the next gen iPhone 5S will weigh pretty much the same as iPhone 5 but will have better battery life achieved by optimizing iOS further. Either way better battery life would be an important feature for most of the users.
Verdict - Almost certain based on past Apple history and iOS7's features.
iPhone 5 might not be the best camera out there based on specs or based on special (albeit slightly made up) features, but it certainly is the most used one (the second and third place also go to other iPhone models). The reason for this has been attributed to (again) Apple's excellent integration of hardware and software. Now for the next gen iPhone it will be interesting to see how Apple makes the best smartphone camera better? Some rumors have been for better low light and indoor pictures, using a dual LED flash and this will be a very welcome improvement. Other than this I would like to see faster pictures, (should I dare say) more control over the photos like adjusting exposure and brightness and even better photo quality (more mega pixels seem unlikely).
Verdict - Almost certain based on rumors so far
Other niche features that only enthusiasts and Samsung Advertising folks seem to be bothered about are NFC, wink to pause and play, active notifications, etc. Honestly none of these technologies feel matured or polished enough for Apple to adapt. The next gen iPhone is also expected to house a finger print sensor for better security and though this seems a great feature for the enterprise users, it is not going to seal the deal for the average Joe.
Verdict - Finger print sensor seems to be a certain add on feature for the next gen iPhone based on rumors and Apple's purchase of Authentec.
However much I put my head into this, I am unable to come up with more HARDWARE features (other than the above mentioned ones) that I yearn for my next gen iPhone. This is when you realize what a robust smartphone, iPhone 5 is!