iPhone 5: Expert Predictions and the Challenges Ahead

Kyle Wiens of iFixit has a proven track record with Apple product predictions. Here are his expectations of the upcoming iPhone 5 regarding battery life, 4G LTE, backwards compatibility, and more.

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Thu, September 06, 2012

CIO — Judging from the invitation Apple sent out this week, it's a pretty good bet that Apple will unveil the iPhone 5 on September 12. You can also double-down on the chance that the iPhone 5 will finally support 4G LTE (not the fake 4G on the iPhone 4S).

The big question is, will the iPhone 5 have the cruddy battery life that has plagued other 4G LTE phones?

Kyle Wiens of iFixit, a website providing free repair manuals and advice forums, answers this question and gives his predictions on the upcoming iPhone 5. Wiens is a reliable prognosticator of everything Apple and a regular speaker at the Macworld | iWorld Conference, as well as an iOS app developer.

His team travels the world to get its hands on Apple products and conducts teardowns ahead of everyone else. In fact, iFixit broke the story that Apple was using tamper-resistant Pentalobular screws to stymie do-it-yourselfers from making repairs and swapping in new batteries.

CIO.com sat down with Wiens to talk about the iPhone 5.

What do you expect to see in the iPhone 5?

Wiens: The interesting thing with this release is that we know far more about it than we have with any previous iPhone release. The parts leaks have been very consistent. I feel like there isn't a whole lot of surprises coming out.

Kyle Wiens of iFixit

I think the iPhone 5 will have a taller, 4-inch screen and support 4G LTE. It'll probably have an A6 four-core processor that I'm pretty confident will continue to be made by Samsung. It looks like it'll have the same thickness and a metal back with some plastic RF windows, which would make it more rugged than the previous hard-glass back.

By going to a bigger screen, and going to 4G LTE, the iPhone 5 would be a major upgrade.

What do you think about an iPhone 5 boasting a bigger screen for the first time?

Wiens: I don't think the phone is going to feel much bigger. It'll increase the surface area on the phone but not the physical size very much. It shouldn't affect existing apps. I don't think developers will stretch apps, just letterbox them.

What is the make-or-break feature with the iPhone 5?

Wiens: The major question is, will Apple be able to keep the same battery life going to LTE? Carriers tell me the number one reason for returns is the battery life. 4G LTE phones have been on the market for a year and a half, and all of them have had poor battery life. If you were wondering why Apple didn't go to 4G LTE last spring, it's because the chipsets weren't up to it.

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