Updated October 4, 2011
Now that Apple has taken the wraps off of its latest iPhone, the iPhone 4S, let's revisit all the rumors that surrounded this device before its launch. Below, you'll find the complete text of this article, which looked at all of the iPhone 5 pre-launch rumors. After each section, we'll note how accurate each rumor was. Read on, and enjoy!
Apple is expected to unveil the details of its next-generation iPhone -- the fifth version of the wildly-popular smartphone -- in just a few weeks. And new rumors about what the new iPhone might look like and the features it may have seem to pop up every day. Here's a roundup of the most popular theories about the highly-anticipated iPhone.
It's long been suggested that Apple would offer a lighter or cheaper version of its iPhone, but these rumors have never panned out. Now, an unlikely source is throwing new fuel onto these rumors: Al Gore. Yes, the former VP (and Apple board member) said that Apple will release "the new iPhones" next month, while speaking at an event in South Africa in September 2011. While news reports were quick to note that Gore used the plural when talking about "iPhones," he did not clarify his comments and it has been in no way confirmed that Apple will release more than one new iPhone this year.
Accurate? No. Apple unveiled only one iPhone, the iPhone 4S. Guess the VP simply misspoke.
The next-generation iPhone often has been referred to as the "iPhone 5," following in the steps of the iPhone 4. But reports as of mid-May, 2011 suggest that the device may actually be called the iPhone 4S. That name would make sense; Apple's third-generation iPhone was called the iPhone 3GS, after the second-generation iPhone had been named the iPhone 3G.
Accurate? You bet! The device is, in fact, the iPhone 4S.
Most of the speculation about the iPhone 5 has suggested that the device would not be a drastic upgrade from earlier versions of the iPhone. But in late June 2011, Boy Genius Report suggested that the opposite may in fact be true. Citing a "reliable source," BGR says that we should "expect a radical new case design for the upcoming iPhone," but notes that few additional details are available.
ThisIsMyNext.com has gone so far as to create an image mockup of what a new, radically-redesigned iPhone could look like. The author, who has been predicting that the new iPhone would be "a completely redesigned handset," has an image showing a super-thin iPhone, with something of a teardrop shape.
Accurate? No way. The new iPhone 4S looks nearly identical to the iPhone 4.
The Retina Display was one of the most-hyped features on the iPhone 4 when it launched in 2010. But rumors suggest that Apple is looking at redesigning the display on the next-generation iPhone, as a purported mockup of the new phone shows a device with an edge-to-edge screen. That screen would feature the same 3:4 screen ratio currently used on the iPad, not the 2:3 screen ratio that the iPhone 4 features. This edge-to-edge screen is shown in ThisIsMyNext.com's mockup of a new iPhone 5.
Another report suggests that the iPhone 5 will feature a curved glass cover. A similar cover was used on a previous version of the iPod Nano and on the Nexus S smartphone. It's said to offer improved comfort and usability.
Accurate? Not so much. As noted in the previous section, the iPhone 4S looks nearly identical to the iPhone 4.
Apple typically launches a new iPhone each summer, but the company was not prepared for a summer launch of the iPhone 5/4S. Early speculation had suggested that Apple would launch the next iPhone to launch in the fall of 2011, with some reports even suggesting it may not come until the end of the year. Analysts who had suggested a fall launch may be right, because as of late September 2011, the Wall Street Journal's AllThingsD blog is reporting that we can expect to see the new iPhone 5 announced on October 4.
Boy Genius Report wrongly suggested that we would see the new iPhone 5 sooner than this fall. In a report posted in late June, BGR.com said that a reliable source has said that "Apple may hold an event in the beginning or middle of August to announce the new iPhone, with availability to follow in the last week of August." It's now late September, and the new iPhone has yet to make an appearance.
In early August, another report suggested that Apple would announce a new iPhone, called the iPhone 4S, in September, with availability following in October. While there are still a few days left in September, an October launch looks far more likely.
TiPb, a blog that covers Apple's gadgets, also suggest that an October launch is likely, reporting that Apple may release the new iPhone on Friday, October 7.
And the winner is: The WSJ, which was spot-on in predicting an October 4 launch. TiPb also earns points for predicting an October 7 release; while Apple won't officially release the iPhone 4S until October 14, it will begin pre-orders on October 7.
Now that Apple has ended its exclusive deal with AT&T and is offering the iPhone 4 on Verizon Wireless, the question is whether the iPhone will make its way to additional carriers. A research note from financial industry analyst Jefferies & Co. says that the new iPhone will be offered on Sprint and T-Mobile, too. That information is based on "industry checks," according to Jefferies & Co.
In late August, a Wall Street Journal report added fuel to the rumors that Sprint would be among the carriers offering the iPhone 5. The paper said that Sprint would offer the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4 when the new phone launches, which the report says will happen in mid-October.
Accurate? Yes, for the most part. While T-Mobile is not part of the iPhone party, Apple did confirm that Sprint will offer the next iPhone.
Maybe. While most industry insiders agree that support for Verizon's super-fast 4G LTE network is unlikely, the iPhone 5/4S may support HSPA+ networks. Currently offered by AT&T and T-Mobile, HSPA+ is an evolved form of current 3G networks, capable of delivering 4G speeds.
As of August 2011, reports have surfaced that Apple is testing an iPhone with support for 4G LTE networks. But no one knows if the forthcoming iPhone 5 is the model being tested, or if Apple is simply preparing for 4G support in later iPhone models.
Accurate? Depends. The new iPhone does support what some companies call "4G speeds" -- that is uploads at up to 5.8Mbps, and downloads at 14.4Mbps, but Apple said it will not get into a debate about what is and what isn't 4G. And the phone does not support the super-speedy 4G networks offered by Sprint and Verizon Wireless.
The camera on the iPhone 5/4S may get a significant boost in quality, some reports suggest. Rumors say that Apple's next iPhone may feature an 8-megapixel camera, powered by a Sony sensor. The current iPhone, the iPhone 4, features a 5-megapixel camera.
In late June 2011, DigiTimes reported that the camera on the iPhone 5 would feature dual LED flashes, which would signficantly improve its ability to capture photos in low light. The iPhone 4 only features a single flash, which has been criticized for its low power.
Accurate? The camera on the iPhone 4S does not feature dual flashes, but it does offer a significant quality boost over the camera found on the iPhone 4. It is an 8-megapixel camera, and offers speedier photo taking.
Some of the pre-launch rumors were way off-base, but many of the rumors surrounding Apple's latest iPhone were right on target. Perhaps this shows us that next time Apple launches a new device, we ought to give plenty of credence to the rumors we hear.