It's that time of year: As the days heat up, so does irregularly informed speculation about Apple's next iPhone.
We do this every summer because new iPhones have arrived with clockwork regularity every June or July (up until the October arrival of the iPhone 4S last year), because Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference next month provides a logical stage for the company to talk about its mobile ambitions (even if it doesn't) and because buyers who have been waiting for a new phone get curious.
But the number of people hoping to break news about the next model — or at least draw readers with posts about it — vastly outnumbers the supply of informed sources. That results in a surplus of rumor stories that look silly or outright delusional once Apple unveils the real thing.
The most popular storyline this time around predicts a bigger screen, maybe a full 4 inches. Even a mere 3.999 inches would by virtue of being taller than the current 3.5-inch display fit into the same case as today's model.
That makes enough sense to me. The iPhone's screen looks a little dinky compared to competitors, even setting aside enormophones like Samsung's Galaxy Note. And finding a way to enlarge the iPhone's screen without requiring a larger device (a theory apparently first suggested by a listener to The Verge's podcast) would respect Apple's precedent of not shipping new mobile devices larger than their predecessors.
Adding 4G LTE mobile broadband should be equally obvious. The new iPad already has it and so do most new Android phones; more importantly, we're starting to see more efficient LTE chipsets that, coupled with Apple's usual talent for stretching out battery life, should permit faster wireless access without cutting into the iPhone's excellent runtime. Apple seems militantly opposed to shipping a new device with battery life inferior to its older models. Its competitors would do well to follow that example.
A rebuilt, Google-free Maps app is not just logical but horribly overdue. Android phones not only do turn-by-turn navigation but offer bicycling directions and can even tell you when to get off the bus; Apple needs to fix this before it addresses anything else in the iPhone's iOS operating system.
But a fourth somewhat popular forecast, one calling for a smaller dock connector, makes zero sense to me. Why would Apple want to break most iPhone accessories shipped since day one? I would love to see the company join the rest of the computing universe and adopt the micro-USB standard, but that's not going to happen, for much the same reason.
You can ignore entire categories of iPhone rumors because of their sourcing. Industry analysts have a horrible record of inaccuracy with Apple predictions. Overseas component manufacturers rarely know what they're talking about (Time's Harry McCracken found that 16 of 25 Apple-rumor stories published by DigiTimes, a common outlet for that sort of report, were "mostly or completely off-base.") And Apple patent filings rarely signify anything more than the addition of yet another weapon to its intellectual-property armory.
Credit: Rob Pegoraro / Discovery