WiFi

Improvements to WiFi come every generation partly just due to better combo chips coming from Broadcom's aggressive roadmap in that space, and we wouldn't be surprised to see further generational improvement here. If you read our reviews, this will sound like a broken record, but the inclusion of 5 GHz WiFi support in smartphones is something that is starting to become relatively mainstream at the high end, and we wouldn't be shocked to see the iPhone follow suit.

The location of that antenna moved from the external metal band on the GSM iPhone 4 to an internal printed one with the CDMA iPhone 4 so that the top band could be repurposed for cellular receive diversity, something the 4S inherited. I would strongly expect that to continue with the next device given the aforementioned MIMO requirements for LTE. Multi spatial stream support for WiFi is still basically out of the question, improvements in this space are again possible 5 GHz support with 40 MHz channels, which we've seen from BCM4334 in other shipping devices already.

Apple iPhone - WiFi Trends
  Release Year WiFi + BT Support WiFi Silicon
iPhone 2007 802.11 b/g, BT 2.0+EDR Marvell W8686, CSR BlueCore
iPhone 3G 2008 802.11 b/g, BT 2.0+EDR Marvell W8686, CSR BlueCore
iPhone 3GS 2009 802.11 b/g, BT 2.1+EDR Broadcom BCM4325
iPhone 4 2010 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz), BT 2.1+EDR Broadcom BCM4329
iPhone 4S 2011 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz), BT 4.0+EDR Broadcom BCM4330
iPhone Next 2012 ? Broadcom BCM4334?

 

Battery

Battery life on a device is obviously a function of the inherent efficiency of its components, but also is a function of overall battery capacity. Increasing the size of that tank obviously gets you immediate gains in overall lifetime, at the expense of increasing the mass or volume of the device. The iPhone has been no stranger to increases in battery life, and in fact the iPhone 4 realized a considerable jump in overall battery size thanks to the side by side PCB / battery split that has now dominated smartphone design. Since then we haven't seen as much of an increase in capacity, and meanwhile some Android phones are shipping batteries as large as nearly 8 Whr (2100 MaH, 3.8V in SGS3).


Higher capacity iPhone Battery (courtesy: 9to5Mac)

Recent leaks out of China have, howver, indicated that the next iPhone will likely move to a higher voltage chemistry, up from 3.7 V nominal to 3.8 V nominal. This follows the move that Motorola made over a year ago to the 3.8 V nominal chemistry where I saw it the first time. Since then Motorola has shipped almost all its phones with 3.8 V batteries, followed by Nokia and Samsung. Thus it seems highly likely that Apple will also move to this chemistry given maturity and the tangible benefits it provides to battery lifetime.

Apple iPhone - Battery Trends
  Release Year Battery
iPhone 2007 1400 mAh, 3.7V (5.18 Wh)
iPhone 3G 2008 1150 mAh, 3.7V (4.25 Wh)
iPhone 3GS 2009 1219 mAh, 3.7V (4.51 Wh)
iPhone 4 2010 1420 mAh, 3.7V (5.25 Wh)
iPhone 4S 2011 1430 mAh, 3.7V (5.29 Wh)
iPhone Next 2012 1440 mAh, 3.8V (5.47 Wh)

 

Conclusions

Based on everything we've seen, and the analysis on the previous pages, it seems likely that the next iPhone will feature a dual-core Cortex A9 SoC built on Samsung's 32nm LP (HK+MG) process, with a PowerVR SGX 543MP2 driving a larger 4-inch display. Battery capacity will see a slight bump, but battery life itself should be measurably better compared to the iPhone 4S thanks to a move to 28/32nm silicon for the baseband and apps processor. LTE and TD-SCDMA support will likely be driven by a Qualcomm MDM9x15. Evolutionary improvements in the WiFi stack are a reasonable expectation, however NFC support isn't. There are still questions about final details (e.g. camera sensors) but a lot of what Apple has been doing with the iPhone closely follows an aggressive 2-year design and silicon cadence. It's the relentless competition and hyper Moore's Law curve in the smartphone space that drive Apple's development cycle here. I don't expect much change here for the next couple of years at least.

Despite the annual release schedule and a 2-year cadence for most silicon elements, Apple also appears to remain relatively conservative in how it adopts new technologies. Process nodes, new chip architectures, and new wireless standards are all evaluated with a fairly conservative eye. Apple's iPhone business is a well oiled machine at this point, any unnecessary risks are consistently avoided.

NFC, Unlikely
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  • MatthiasP - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    I'm missing some wild speculation about the camera. Reply
  • Alchemy69 - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    So, basically it will be a tweaked 4S with a case sufficiently different that everyone knows you have the new one. I find that all too believable. Reply
  • A5 - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Bigger screen + LTE + higher clocks are a fairly significant set of changes. Reply
  • GotThumbs - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Exactly!

    Apple will again be able to sell yet another generation iphone to its current iphone owners....so they can be the "first on the block". Seems kids just never grow up. It's still about having ice-cream and you don't. I'd like to know what the real difference is...other than fixing the flawed antenna and LTE. Oh! a means to get every Apple owner to buy new accessories to fit the new port connection.

    While I'll Never own an Apple product, I find Apple has been very savvy in getting the general consumer market to walk freely into Apples walled garden of control and zero options. When will the DOJ file against Apple for its Itunes requirement and its anti-competitive ways? The sheep number in the millions and I just keep watching from outside the walled garden.

    Interesting enough story. Since this is all based on conjecture.

    I find it interesting that Apples playbook seems to repeat itself, but hey their making billions on each incremental generation of one phone. Whats the saying...."A fool and his money.....?

    Best wishes,
    Reply
  • jrswizzle - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    Aside from your wild generalizations about Apple users, I find the hatred for iTunes amusing. You are by no means the only person to express a deep loathing for the program but what I can't seem to figure out is why?

    With the advent of iCloud, the only time I use iTunes is as a media player through my computer or to sync up my old iPod classic. What is so awful about Mac's default media player that it would warrant a DOJ filing? There are other media players out there for music on your iPhone: pandora, spotify just to name a few and I'd argue they'd probably save the avid music fan some dough.

    My only complaint with the program is its support for legacy devices which makes it a monster in terms of computer resources, but this is being rectified with the new update this fall (as they vastly reduce the iPod line imo).

    We get that you hate Apple and love your "open source" OSes. But those of us who prefer simplicity, ease of use and stability will continue to use Apple products. We don't need your pity or your baseless, and offensive, generalizations about our CHOICES.
    Reply
  • jrswizzle - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    As for the article, it makes perfect sense. Apple has never been one to add features for the sake of adding features. If it improves the overall user experience you can bet they'll include it. It's not about doing things that are new and different, its about doing things better. And of the features iOS devices have, I can only think of 1 Android does better (Google Now vs. Siri). Reply
  • Assimilator87 - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    I hope Apple surprises us and throws in a 32nm A5X. I'll be jumping ship to iOS when my Palm Pre 2 dies. I've used Android on my tablet and the much smaller game selection, on top of the fragmentation due to all the SoCs, makes it excruciating. Reply
  • name99 - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    It's bizarre that the people who go on about "sheep" behavior seem the most clueless about human psychology.

    As I have said before, the issue is not coolness, it is delight.

    - coolness is other directed. It was what other companies ship. It is about how OTHER people view you and your device. It is about having a few gimmicks you can show others so that they ooh and ahh.
    - what Apple ships is not coolness, it is DELIGHT. Delight is SELF-DIRECTED. It is about devices that bring you joy day after day, and who cares whether they demo well, or can be shown to others.

    Samsung, right now, is a company that cares a lot about coolness, and nothing about delight. That's why, to take a recent example, they ship a Note 10.1 with two flashy features you can show your friends --- pen, and the equivalent of MacOS 1.0's desk accessories, allowing you to open multiple apps at once --- but both these features actually perform horrendously. They do the cool job fine --- show them to your friends for a few minutes and they will be impressed --- but they do the delight job abysmally.

    And one of the ways that you engender delight is what Apple is doing here, constant refinement . When you buy your next phone, it feels familiar --- just better in every way.
    Reply
  • Tegeril - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    This, exactly. Reply
  • JoshAlfie - Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - link

    This is actually a very interesting analysis. Nice one. Reply

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