15 HUGE Questions About The iPhone 5

Tim Cook

Photo: AP

Apple will reportedly hold an event in the middle of September to unveil a new iPhone.Even though it’s been less than a year since Apple last refreshed the iPhone, it’s felt like much longer. Perhaps it’s because the last iPhone update was so minor on a cosmetic level. 

Whatever the case may be, for a year now we’ve been obsessing over this gadget. While we’ve seen a lot of leaked parts hit the web, we still have big questions about the phone and Apple’s plans for it. 

How big is the big new screen?

All signs point to Apple making the iPhone 5's screen 4-inches, as opposed to the current 3.5-inch screen on the iPhone. The question is whether it's really just going to make the screen taller, and not wider. This would seemingly impact developers who make their apps for one aspect ratio on all other devices, as well as older iPhones. It would introduce a layer of fragmentation that Apple has thus far avoided. Developers think this won't be a big deal. We'll see what they think when it's actually out.

How big a screen is big enough for consumers?

If Apple does in fact just make the screen taller, as most reports indicate, is this going to sate consumers who are buying huge Android phones? Those phones are bigger overall, not just taller.

If this is what it looks like, are consumers going to be OK with it?

In the first four years of the iPhone, Apple redesigned it three times. The iPhone 4 looked different than the iPhone 3G, which looked radically different than the first iPhone. As a result we got spoiled into thinking Apple would always make major overhauls. The next iPhone doesn't look major. It's a big redesign, but it feels like a slight change to the iPhone 4. It will be thinner, and the back will be different, but the general elements of the iPhone 4 design remain intact. Does that matter? Are people tired of this design, or are they happy with it and just want the newest phone from Apple?

Will Apple keep the iPhone 3GS?

On a wireless contract, Apple sells the iPhone 4S for $200, the iPhone 4 for $100, and the iPhone 3GS for $0. When the iPhone 5 comes out, does it just shift the whole line, selling the iPhone 5 for $200, the iPhone 4S for $100 and the iPhone 4 for $0? In this scenario, there is no room for an iPhone 3GS, and it's just killed. But, Apple plans to let iPhone 3GS users upgrade to iOS 6, so it might have some plans for it.

Will Apple do a cheap pre-paid phone?

Apple analysts have been talking about a cheap, pre-paid iPhone for years now. The theory is that Apple is losing ground in countries that don't emphasise post-paid, contract wireless phone deals like in the U.S. If Apple were to keep the iPhone 3GS, maybe it could cut the price enough to make it a cheap pre-paid phone. If it does this, will people be OK with buying a four-year old phone, even if it is a cheap iPhone?

Will Apple make iCloud better for users?

When we bought our last iPhone, we opted for the more expensive 32 gig model. We've almost used all of that storage. Will we need another 32 gig model, or will Apple's cloud services make it obsolete? So far, iCloud hasn't really affected our behaviour. If someone were to ask how iCloud works, or what it's used for, we'd be stumped. Maybe Apple makes iCloud better? Maybe we can store photos, video, music, and app data more easily, for less money?

Will Apple fix Siri?

Apple's voice activated assistant, Siri, has fallen short of the high standards Apple sets for itself. Apple plans on adding new features to Siri, but will it be enough? Will Siri work as advertised? Or will people continue to hate it?

What will it be called?

Most people think of it as the 'iPhone 5,' but it's really the sixth generation of iPhone. Calling it the iPhone 6 would be weird. Will it just go with iPhone 5? Or will it go with just 'iPhone,' the way the third generation iPad is called the 'iPad,' not 'iPad 3'.

How will Apple market the new iPhone?

Last year was all about Siri. We doubt it sticks with that theme. So, what's next for Apple? Does it act like this is the first phone with a four-inch screen? The first phone to run on a high-speed LTE network?

How terrible will Apple's Maps be?

Apple is pulling Google Maps from the iPhone, replacing it with its own home-grown flavour. People who buy the iPhone 5 will have no choice but to use Apple Maps as the default mapping app. Maps are one of the most popular applications on the iPhone. If Apple screws this up, it's going to be a disaster. Since this is Apple's first mapping product, we assume there will be bugs. The question is how big, and how bad will the bugs be?

Does Apple have a secret surprise planned?

Almost every year, Apple includes a software feature that's exclusive to the new version of the hardware. It's a way of rewarding people for upgrading/incenting people to upgrade. Last year was Siri. For the 3GS, it was video. The iPhone 4 had FaceTime, and a retina display. What, if anything, will we get this year? Or is new hardware good enough?

When will it actually launch?

Apple is planning an event for September 12. Will it launch a few days later? The same day? Will there be long lines for the phone? Are you planing on buying one? Rene Ritchie, who broke the news of the September 12 date, says it comes out the 21st.

Will carriers screw over users looking to buy iPhone 5s?

Carrier reluctance to continue subsidizing the purchase of new iPhones is one of the biggest threats to Apple's future earnings success, says BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk. He believes AT&T and Verizon have been changing their policies to discourage users from getting new phones. This way they don't have to give more money to Apple. They're also changing their data plans. Will these changes impact Apple's sales?

How many will Apple sell?

This iPhone launch is widely believed to be the biggest ever consumer electronics product launch in history. What does that mean in practical terms? Will Apple sell 50 million iPhones in the holiday quarter? 60 million? How many does it have to sell to beat expectations?

What happens to Apple's shares post-iPhone 5?

Apple has been on a magnificent run. It's now the most valuable U.S. company of all time, with a market cap that cracked $622 billion during intraday trading. Much of the stock run seems to be related to anticipation of the iPhone 5. Once it's out, does the stock fade?

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