Apple’s expected rollout of the iPhone 5 tomorrow should set a new higher bar overall for consumer expectation even if it's just catching up to competitors in some areas.
IHS iSuppli, known for its teardown analysis and tech research, has just issued a “fast facts” report detailing what it expects Apple to announce and its likely impact.
The most obvious change is visual, the iPhone 5 will be bigger than earlier iPhones, moving from a 3.5-inch to a 4-inch display and sport a higher resolution.
Rivals like Samsung offer its 5.3-inch Galaxy Note “phablet” and other smartphone makers have offered models with 4-inch (or larger displays) for months, so in that sense Apple is just catching up, but the larger-size iPhone comes with significant technology in tow.
IHS says that technology will allow for a higher resolution (1,136 x 640, up from 960 x 640 in the current iPhone 4S), thinner design, and increased battery life.
Vinita Jakhanwal, director for small and medium displays at IHS, says Apple’s new use of in-cell touch technology that places the touch sensors inside the LCD panel “can help reduce the thickness of the display, which could make the iPhone 5 thinner than previous models, or clear out space to add other features like a larger battery that can help extend operating time.”
The bigger screen and the possibility that Apple will implement a widescreen 16 x 9 aspect ratio will make the iPhone 5 more appealing for video playback, according to Ian Fogg, senior principal analyst for mobile at IHS.
"Apple's new iPhone will again transform the market for mobile content. This time Apple will revive the market for on-demand mobile TV and video,” said Fogg.
Must go faster: Expect 4G LTE
Apple began offering high speed 4G LTE connectivity with the new iPad earlier this year and it's expected to offer LTE for the first time on an iPhone with the iPhone 5 giving Apple a competitive edge in some areas.
“Apple’s new iPad currently supports LTE for U.S. carriers Verizon and AT&T,” Fogg said. “However, the tablet does not support LTE in other regions, including Europe. If the iPhone 5 offers global LTE frequencies then this will expand LTE subscriber growth and boost the fortunes of carriers with LTE networks to the detriment of those that only offer 3G services.”
Mobile commerce, Passbook and NFC
IHS notes that there have been conflicting reports as to whether the iPhone 5 will include a near-field communication (NFC) chip for electronic mobile payments.
While Apple’s held off so far, Android competitors have been aggressive in NFC adoption, shipping 106 million NFC-enabled cellphones in 2011, according to IHS.
“iOS 6 will include support for Apple’s new Passbook app, which will allow users to employ their iPhone 5 to redeem coupons, movie tickets, boarding passes and loyalty cards, and to conduct other financial transactions,” said Jack Kent, senior analyst for mobile at IHS.
“With its capability to tie purchases together, Passbook will be an effective tool for managing mobile transactions, mobile money services and mobile commerce,” he added. “If Apple combines Passbook with its new location platform, the company will open both a new revenue stream and a new competitive front with Google.”
IHS speculates that Apple may choose to partner Passbook with hardware support in the iPhone 5 for NFC.