iPhone 5 rumor rollup for the week ending Jan. 20

Revolutionary battery, 4-inch screen, and waterproofing

The iOSsphere, not being battery powered, never runs down when it comes to iPhone 5 rumors, though it can be draining in other ways.

This week, we go gaga over batteries; debate whether a 4-inch iPhone 5 display is what Steve would do; marvel at new fan art; and reflect on the implications of a waterproof iPhone 5.

You read it here second.

"What would Steve do?" -- Ed Sutherland, CultOfMac.com, on the proper criteria to use in evaluating the credibility of iPhone 5 rumors.

iPhone 5 will have revolutionary battery for LTE

The basis for this is another low-key, restrained explication, by Patently Apple, of a just-published Apple patent application that would let the company create custom-shaped batteries to minimize space, and to fit the spaces of a device design. Here's Patently Apple's headline: "Apple to Redesign Battery Shapes for Future, Thinner Devices." 

No mention of "iPhone 5" or "LTE."

MORE RUMORS: iPad 3 rumor rollup for the week ending Jan. 18

The true significance of the patent information was extracted by deft reinterpret ion by some in the iOSsphere, such as Cult of Mac: "Apple Is Working To Revolutionize Batteries In Time For LTE iPhone 5." 

CoM's Killian Bel writes that Apple hasn't adopted LTE because the existing chipsets are too big and they "eat up so much power your new iPhone 4S wouldn't even last the six hours that you currently get, if it was hooked up [instead] to an LTE network."

"However, a new Apple patent application reveals that the Cupertino company has already set about revolutionizing its batteries to make them thinner and more efficient -- possibly making way for LTE connectivity in the iPhone 5," Bel continued in sweeping fashion.

But a revolution in the shape of a battery doesn't mean there's a revolution in the capacity of the battery. Based on Patently Apple's reporting, the Apple application focuses on battery shapes "that will fit their specific dream designs and form factors."

Current battery designs are essentially givens: In some respect the device design has to accommodate the requirements of the battery's unchanging shape. "Apple's invention relates to a battery cell which includes a set of electrode sheets of different dimensions arranged in a stacked configuration to facilitate efficient use of space inside a portable electronic device," according to Patently Apple. "For example, the electrode sheets may be arranged in the stacked configuration to accommodate a shape of the portable electronic device. The stacked configuration may be based on a non-rectangular battery design such as a toroidal [donut-shaped] design, an L-shaped design, a triangular design, a pie-shaped design, a cone-shaped design, and/or a pyramidal design."

At the end of the post, Patently Apple allows that "the battery may represent increased packaging efficiency and/or capacity over a rectangular battery that is used in the same iPad today."

To be fair, Bel eventually gets to all this in his post, but by then you know all you need to know: revolutionary batteries, iPhone 5, LTE, QED.

LTE battery drain on Verizon phones is a painfully recurring topic on Android blogs and forums. As a result, batteries have assumed a prominent place in the Androidosphere. Android Community reported in December 2011 that "Samsung promises better battery life in 2012."  And Cult of Android itself earlier this month blared out a "Deal Alert" -- "All Extended Batteries For Verizon's 4G LTE Devices Are 50% Off." 

But so far, no indication of revolutionary Android batteries.

iPhone 5 will have 4-inch screen: analyst

Or 0.5 inches longer in the diagonal than the screen of the much maligned and widely purchased iPhone 4S.

International Business Times, in a blessedly short item, got hold of a "note to clients" by Susquehanna Financial analyst Chris Caso (or he read another website which had) and concluded by golly that "Apple iPhone 5 May Come with 4-Inch Display: Analyst."

But judging from the note's quote, Caso pretty clearly was just giving his best guess, or speculation, about the size of the screen. "With respect to iPhone 5, we continue to estimate production to begin around June 2012 and believe this phone will feature a larger 4" screen," he wrote.

"We believe" is a pretty mild observation in this context. It clearly implies the believer wouldn't be too surprised to find out eventually that the screen was larger than 4 inches or even smaller than 4.

We can be more definite. We believe the iPhone 5 screen will be at least 3.5 inches and less than 9.7 inches.

Cult of Mac's Ed Sutherland isn't impressed with Caso's belief, though. With regard to iPhone 5 screen size, he asks, literally, "What would Steve do?" Sutherland didn't, apparently consult a tarot reader or Ouija board or medium to ask the late Steve Jobs directly, so his answer sounds a bit confused.

"The 3.5-inch display is perfect for the average human hand -- anything larger and using the screen literally becomes a reach," he argues. "So, will the next iPhone have a larger screen? Probably. But we're unlikely to see an iPhone with a 4-inch screen. Which is how Apple has always kept ahead of its opponents, by zigging when everyone else is zagging."

Which seems to mean that despite the fact that the current 3.5-inch display is perfect, the Next iPhone probably will have a bigger screen but it's unlikely to be 4 inches big. So, if we split the difference, it's clear that iPhone 5 will have a 3.75-inch screen.

iPhone 5 will have a 4-inch screen: designer

This could be an example of the iOSphere's iterative innovation or of its proclivity to beat dead horses.

"To pass the time until launch" of the Next iPhone, Redmond Pie dabbles in covering what it calls concept art, or more accurately fan art, illustrating the nonexistent product. This week, it found another concept design from one Kris Groen, identified only as a "designer."

Groen's renderings in a YouTube video show the Next iPhone with a 4-inch screen. It achieves this size by eliminating the iconic iPhone home bottom centered at the bottom of the phone's face, a rumor that's been regurgitating repeatedly for about a year at least. Groen's contribution: The functions of the home button are replaced by two buttons in the surrounding band, opposite each other, which when squeezed bring you back to the start page. One bonus: We get "true stereo" because the design creates space for two speakers at the bottom of the phone.

The Technology Times described the idea as a "Stunning Re-imagined Concept" in its headline.

But Cult of Mac's John Brownlee, stunned only by its stupidity, poured scorn and contumely on the idea.

"Here's the problem with Groen's design, though: Apple would never go with this," Brownlee declared, presumably after asking "What would Steve do?" "For one thing, Apple favors simplicity, and they'd be ditching an iconic and fundamentally simple element of the iPhone for a more complicated mechanism. No way. Apple would rather just lose the home button entirely and replace it with on-screen elements [rather] than require people to push two buttons at once."

iPhone 5 will be waterproof

Pocket-lint revealed that Apple, and Samsung, have seen demonstrations of a new molecular-level coating that can waterproof electronics. The technology, called WaterBlock, has been developed by a Salt Lake City, Utah, company called HzO, which demonstrated the technology at the recent Consumer Electronics Shows. Here's a video of smartphones, treated with WaterBlock, being dumped into a fish tank.

It's all some kind of nanotechnology, which, even if we don't understand it, sounds way cool.

Pocket-lint followed up with the vendor, who told the mobile news site that it had talked with both Apple and Samsung about the waterproofing.

"Done during the manufacturing process rather than by you once you've bought your phone, this isn't a clumsy case or a sealant but a way of protecting gadgets from getting wet," according to Pocket-lint. "At this year's CES in Las Vegas Pocket-lint witnessed what looked like an ordinary iPhone being repeatedly dunked into a fish tank full of water."

"A spokesman for the company told Pocket-lint that it is in the process of signing up a major smartphone partner and a headphones maker in the very near future," according to Pocket-lint.

According to The Daily Mail's coverage, HzO doesn't keep water out of the device: it coats the interior components, repelling the water and preventing water damage.

Another water-proofing vendor, also using a coating technology and also at CES this year, is P2i.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. : http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww john_cox@nww.com http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/2989/feed



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