Why the iPhone 4S wasn’t really that hard to predict

October 4th, 2011 at 4:41 PM  4 Comments

Listening to people talk, a lot of them seem let down by the iPhone 4S. They have no logical reason to be. Looking at it, the iPhone 4S wasn’t that hard to predict. Let’s think about it for a second. When thinking about Apple product launches, ignore what “analysts” are constantly spinning, trying to manipulate stock prices for short term gain, and realize that Apple is generally pretty predicable.

In my head, you really have two major versions of the iPhone.

  • iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS
  • iPhone 4, iPhone 4S
I group the first three together, because the 3G was basically the same thing internally as the original, except for an upgraded radio allowing 3G. The 3GS had all new guts, but the same shell as the 3G. Therefore, I tend to lump them together into “generation one” devices, even though they were all released a year apart.
Then you look at the iPhone 4. Brand new (fantastic) design, powerful internals and the super clear retina display. Even against brand new Android and Windows Phone devices, the iPhone 4 holds it own. The way I look at it, Apple pretty much locked themselves into one upgrade path.
  1. Cost wise, there are a going to be a lot of physical parts that will be retained between the iPhone 4 (CDMA) and the iPhone 4S. Antenna, radio, front panel, back panel. This means they’re going to make more profit through economy of scale especially by continuing to sell the iPhone 4.
  2. They were obviously going to put the A5 dual core processor into it. It’s in the iPad 2 already, it’s the same path they have chosen with the iPad 1 to iPhone 4. This signals a predictable upgrade path. If the iPad 3 comes out in A6 processor that is a tri or quad-core, then you can almost be assured that it’ll make its way into the iPhone 5 in 2012.
  3. Looking at past performance, they always upgrade the camera. That pretty much goes without saying at this point.
The time was not right for a brand new design. There is no need for it. All these blow hards railing against Apple, Tim Cook, etc, saying that this product will be a failure are not looking at it logically. They’re looking at it emotionally, they want some fancy looking new device to show off. Again, Apple will bring that to you in the future, but the fact that they didn’t do it this time was the right move for them.
Those people who are still on a 3GS, should get a 4S. If you’re still on an original or a 3G, you should have upgraded to the 4, but I forgive you. Don’t bother waiting for the hypothetical 5, and get yourself in the pre-order queue for the 4S. If you have a 4, the choice is yours.
Oh yeah, those of you complaining that the 4S still has a 3.5″ screen, I don’t care. I’ve used devices larger, and they honestly are uncomfortable to me. Even 3.7″ is pushing it. If I want to look at something on a screen any larger than that and I’ll use my iPad.
One thing to note, and another reason I didn’t consider before as to why they’re not making this upgrade a major release, is that Apple will continue to sell the iPhone 3GS fully subsidized. $0. This is really pretty huge. If you’re someone looking at a feature phone, vs an iPhone at 0$ (even if you have to pay for a $15 data plan) it starts to become very attractive. Apple would not have continued to sell the 3GS along with the 4 and a hypothetical all new device. It starts to become to complex and doesn’t allow them to scale based on the current supply chain.

Doubling down on my previous next-iPhone predictions

September 27th, 2011 at 3:42 PM  No Comments

Back in February I wrote an article outlining my predictions for the next version of the iPhone. (For my purposes hereby referred to as iPhone X.) Rumors have run like crazy for the last few months about what the iPhone X will be. Thinner, lighter, the same as the current, faster, curved, larger, two versions. You name it, some knucklehead with a blog has come out and said it. With the announcement that Apple will be hosting a talk about iPhone X on October 4, now seems like as good of a time as any to double down on my predictions.

For the record, I make no serious attempt to back these predictions up with any hard facts. Take it all with a grain of salt.

Prediction #1 — Steve Jobs Will Introduce the iPhone 5

Unless his cancer reaches a point which seriously prohibits him from doing so, I believe that he will do everything in his power to be the one on stage to show off the new iPhone. Rumors of his impending doom are being greatly exaggerated

I still maintain that Steve Jobs will be present at the announcement, even after his recent retirement as Apple CEO. I think he will be there to hand it off to Tim Cook in some way, or perhaps participate in some FaceTime chat to highlight a new iOS 5 feature. At the very least, his presence will be felt.

Prediction #2 — Hardware Updates

I’m going to go on record by saying that the iPhone 5 isn’t going to look drastically different than the iPhone 4. While the antenna design my be altered slightly, the dimensions are going to be the same. In my opinion the market isn’t ready for something drastically different, yet. That will probably come with next years version. Aside from the well documented attenuation problems, the design of the iPhone 4 is solid. My best guess is, Apple won’t alter it much except to correct that flaw.

On this I will 100% totally double down.

The iPhone X will be what most are calling the iPhone 4S. An upgraded version of the current device. There will be only one device announced, but it will not be a revolutionary new device. The larger, thinner version will come in 2012. What you will see next Tuesday will be an evolutionary upgrade, along the lines of the iPhone 3G to 3GS. Same form factor, better guts.

Expect the A5 dual-core processor, upgraded camera, more memory, and possibly NFC integration, reworked antenna. Don’t expect a lot more than that.

Prediction #3 – Networks

  1. No LTE. It’s not needed, the chips that are out to support it are not mature, and suck a lot of battery life. Besides that, cellular networks around the world are not deploying it at the level where it’s even going to be utilized except by a few lucky few.
  2. Support for fake-4G also known as “HSPA+” — although I really hope that Apple doesn’t ever call it 4G. Enhanced 3G is all it is.
Again, 100% double down. There will be no LTE iPhone X this year. Save it for 2012 when the revolutionary device is released and when all three of the US carriers have a more robust LTE network. AT&T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint. Yes, I believe there will be a Sprint iPhone X, and it’ll be the same phone that AT&T and Verizon get. The iPhone X is going to have the same radio as the current Verizon iPhone 4, because it supports GSM/CDMA, therefore, as I’ve said before, it’s going to be essentially the same device on all three networks.

Prediction #4 – Software

Obviously with the release of a new iPhone comes updates to iOS, in this case bringing us to version 5.0.

We’ve seen from the already released iOS 5 betas that I was correct about most of this. We’ve got iCloud now, we’ve got wireless sync, we’ve got over the air updates on WiFi (that rock) — I’m going to add onto all of that and say there will be some at present unreleased features that will be exposed. Along with Twitter I expect to see Facebook integration into the core of the OS. Most importantly though, I expect to see voice commands take off and become a mainstream, front and center feature.

Prediction #5 – Most of this will be wrong

In all five of these areas, I’m probably going to be wrong more than I’m right. Predicting what Apple will do is like predicting the weather in Kansas on the day they announce the iPhone 5.

Actually, I think I’m going to be right about most of this stuff. But Apple is free to prove me wrong. However, I’m not making any plans to dump my current iPhone 4, once the “X” is released. I’ll be saving my money for the revolutionary upgrade in 2012.

No LTE iPhone is coming in the near future

April 21st, 2011 at 2:34 PM  No Comments

Another one of predictions for the next iPhone that seems to be coming true, was confirmed by Apple COO Tim Cook yesterday during their quarterly report conference call. The next generation iPhone will not have support for LTE wireless data technology.

From Forbes:

“The first generation of LTE chip-sets force a lot of design compromises with the handset, and some of those we are just not willing to make.”

Adding LTE into the next generation iPhone would mean adding more complexity by needing both a 3G and a 4G chip, that would only work on one provider, and require more power. Currently only one LTE mobile phone is on the market right now, the HTC Thunderbolt on Verizon, which has been the only US carrier so far to roll out any LTE service. In addition to lack of real LTE coverage in most of the country, even on Verizon’s network, the Thunderbold has been plagued with horrendous battery life.

The next iPhone will probably feature HSPA+, as the Qualcomm chip that is making its way into it, supports it already. It just needs to be enabled in the firmware.

Next iPhone to be GSM/CDMA ‘world phone’, says Verizon CFO

April 21st, 2011 at 1:45 PM  3 Comments

During a conference call with investors and the press to discuss quarterly results, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo let loose what most of us already assumed… that the next version of the Apple iPhone will be a ‘world phone’ meaning one device that is capable of running on both GSM and CDMA networks.

From Barron’s:

… when a new device from Apple is launched, whenever that may be, and that we will be, on the first time, on equal footing with our competitors on a new phone hitting the market, which will also be a global device.

GSM is the network technology used by AT&T and T-Mobile in the United States and every other mobile provider on the planet that has the iPhone for sale. CDMA is used by Verizon and Sprint in the United States, Bell and Telus in Canada, and a handful of other major providers around the world.

Currently, the iPhone 4 is sold in two different flavors, the GSM version and the Verizon specific version. Each version has different radios and internal layouts, and currently run different versions of iOS. A unified phone would allow Apple to engineer one device for every provider on the planet, allowing them to sell the iPhone in more markets on more providers.

A unified GSM/CDMA phone was one of my five predictions for the next iPhone.

image via iFixit, iPhone 4 teardown

My five predictions for the iPhone 5

February 17th, 2011 at 8:14 PM  2 Comments

Late winter, early spring… it’s that time of year where the entire technology world begins to wonder about what Apple has planned for the next version of the iPhone, which, come late June will be the device that sets the trend for mobile technology into the next year. Like it or hate it, the iPhone is the standard that all Android, WebOS, BlackBerry and Windows Phones must either match or surpass to be taken seriously.

So what will this phone feature? It’s impossible to tell until Steve Jobs takes the stage to tell us, and even then there will still be many unanswered questions until it gets into the hands of the consumer. Even though the release of the next generation iPhone happens like clock work, I’m still constantly asked questions like “when will the next iPhone be out” or “should I wait to buy it?” — This article serves to help anwser those questions right now.

By the way, if you thought I mistaken when I said Steve Jobs will take the stage, let me clarify: (more…)

AT&T and Verizon, head to head 3G speed test with the iPhone 4

February 14th, 2011 at 10:00 AM  No Comments

Before you join the rush of people who are shedding their AT&T iPhone for the Verizon iPhone (oh wait, no one is actually doing that) you should do some research and see what dumping “the nations largest 3G network” and getting on “America’s most reliable network” will get you.

Mostly, slower Internet speeds. A lot slower, actually. Well, that, and no simultaneous voice and data network.

What you also won’t get, as 9to5Mac has pointed out, is the ability to swap between multiple calls. Also, if you’re used to having more than a couple person in a conference call, you’ll want to stick with AT&T. That is, assuming you can make calls on their network.

While your mileage may vary, I’m sticking with AT&T.

video and images via

Surprising, yet not… no line to get your Verizon iPhone at the Mall of America

February 10th, 2011 at 10:57 AM  1 Comment

The Apple store at the Mall of America was… uh, not very busy today. Surprising, since today was the first day you could get your Verizon iPhone without being an existing Verizon customer.

Verizon set a new record for first day sales of a new product in 2 hours last week, when they sold the device to existing customers. It seems that the predicted flood of AT&T customers isn’t happening quite yet.

Maybe AT&T in Minneapolis (and the rest of the United States) isn’t as bad as everyone in San Fransisco and New York seem to make it out to be? Kinda like I said last month?

No, that couldn’t be it.


One of these tablets is not like the other, one you can buy right now

February 9th, 2011 at 8:06 PM  4 Comments

Today was an interesting day in the tablet world. We learned that what was left of Palm has now officially been smashed into HP, and that HP is serious about really building on the momentum that Palm had started to build with webOS. HP announced a plethora of new things today (which you can read more about over at Engadget, who I stole/borrowed the wonderful chart above from) but the most interesting today was their new tablet, the HP TouchPad.

I have been getting a lot of crap from people for talking a lot about Apple on this site recently. If you’re bothered by this, feel free to stop reading now, or write your own articles. Fact of the matter is, they’re key to a lot of the technology I’m interested in right now and they execute it better than anyone else.


The mythical Verizon iPhone has arrived

January 11th, 2011 at 10:59 AM  1 Comment

Somewhere deep in the heart of the AT&T headquarters, their executives are huddled around holding a vigil to mourn the loss of the exclusive US contract. Likewise, Google execs are probably throwing chairs at the wall screaming “I thought we had something special!”

No longer a mythical unicorn, the much anticipated Verizon iPhone is now a reality. Available February 3 for existing Verizon customers (props to them for that) and then February 10 for everyone else.

The new device is almost exactly like the old one except for some small differences:

  • CDMA radio instead of GSM, this also means a slightly altered external antenna design
  • Support for Verizon Mobile Hotspot, allowing 5 devices to connect to the iPhone and use Verizon’s data service

There are a few of differences with Verizon and AT&T that should be pointed out:

  1. Verizon’s data network is larger, meaning more bars in more places.
  2. AT&T’s data network is faster, meaning when you get service you’re going to cruise faster.
  3. CDMA technology doesn’t allow for simultaneous voice and data usage. If you’re on a call and want to look up on Google Maps where to meet your friend for lunch? Too bad. Gotta wait for your call to end.

The biggest disappointment, but not unexpected, is that the Verizon iPhone will not support LTE technology, which would have allowed for faster data transfers and simultaneous voice and data. However, given that Verizon’s LTE network just started rolling out a few months ago, this isn’t surprising that Apple chose not to support it. It would have also required further alterations to the iPhone.

The unknown right now is what version of iOS this new CDMA iPhone will run. Will the iOS 4.2.1 guts support it? Will it require a 4.2.2 update? Will we get 4.3? Will the GSM and CDMA phones run the same iOS version? Or will it all be some sort of carrier update that doesn’t involve the a new version of iOS?

Last, Apple COO Tim Cook left the door wide open to future networks when he said this contract with Verizon is multi-year but non-exclusive.

Let the Sprint iPhone discussion commence.

(Or T-Mobile, if anyone still cares about them.)


I can’t wait for the iPhone to come to Verizon, so you’ll all shut up about it

January 9th, 2011 at 10:49 AM  4 Comments

The boys who cried wolf (AKA The Wall Street Journal, et al) are all indicating that Tuesday will be the announcement of the long awaited iPhone 4 on Verizon. I hope they’re finally right.

Not because I’m going to switch, no, I’m actually pretty satisfied with my AT&T service, having been a customer for a long while before the launch of the first iPhone. I’ll just be glad when the noise makers and complainers can have another option. I hope that Verizon’s network works better for them than AT&T (although I kinda also hope it’s just as bad) so that they’ll shut up. I also look forward to another network getting some of the load so that my service will be even more reliable than it already is.

I can’t be alone in this thinking, if AT&T’s network is so god damn horrible across the entire country as the people in San Fransisco and New York make it out to be, no one would use it. Fact is, myself and millions of other subscribers made the choice to use it long before the iPhone. I even used to live down the street from the world headquarters of Sprint, and still used AT&T because I got better service.

I’m not discounting that there are people with horrible AT&T service. I’ve been places where that is the case, I know people who have this problem on a regular basis. It sucks, but chances are no has one forced you to use an iPhone this whole time.

I’ll also be glad when this golden phone finally does arrive, so we can stop obsessing about it. The phone will come out, AT&T’s subscriber numbers will slightly decrease, Verizon will see an increase, Apple’s profits will go up. The sun will still rise in the east and set in the west. Choice is good, but the tech world needs to stop treating this like we’re awaiting the second coming of Christ, and treat this like what it is, like what happens all around the world with the iPhone on multiple carriers. The same phone, on another network.

(Image credit to Gizmodo, from back in 2005, proof people hated them before the iPhone)

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