Dialing up the latest iPhone 5S rumors
Technology • What we’re likely to see in the next iPhone when it’s announced Sept. 10.
Published: August 30, 2013 11:04AM
Updated: February 14, 2014 11:33PM
image
Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, stands in front of a slide showing the evolution of the Apple iPhone over its first five years at an event in San Francisco, Wednesday Sept. 12, 2012. Apple is poised to introduce a new iPhone on Sept. 10, 2013 that could come in a gold color and have a fingerprint reader as the "home" button. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Apple is about to give its new iPhone the golden touch.

When the Cupertino, Calif., company Steve Jobs built unveils the next version of the iPhone on Sept. 10, expect to see a new color for the next model in addition to the standard black and white. There will be a gold iPhone, according to the latest rumors circulating about the so-called “iPhone 5S,” or whatever the new iteration will be named.

With just a week to go before the newest model of the iPhone debuts, the rumor mill has been grinding with scores of analysts and tech writers speculating which new features the phone will have.

Here are the most probable predictions for the new iPhone:

Modest upgrade • First of all, don’t expect a big upgrade with the next iPhone. There will be no bigger screen. It won’t get two stereo speakers. The case will look exactly the same.

Apple has stuck to a predictable upgrade schedule. Every other year there is a more substantial new feature list — usually a change in the form factor and major new additions such as a bigger screen or higher resolution. That’s when the phone’s name changes to a new number. The other years — which this year falls under — there is only a mild upgrade where there is no change in the case and just moderate tweaks to the processor and camera. That’s when they add an S to the number. So don’t expect life-changing features to the new iPhone 5S.

Finger sensor • Perhaps the most talked-about possibility for the new iPhone is a fingerprint sensor that substitutes for the “home” button.

The rumor erupted after Apple last year bought fingerprint-scanner company AuthenTec and after reports surfaced that Apple was further developing the technology.

The new sensor would scan your finger or thumb to unlock the phone. That’s the first likely use for the sensor, but it’s also possible the scanner could be used for authentication into password-protected websites as well as to make mobile purchases with your phone. Imagine buying shoes at a retailer and using your “mobile wallet” service. Instead of typing in a pin code, you just place your thumb on the sensor to make the purchase.

But there is a debate on whether the fingerprint sensor will make it into the iPhone 5S. There also have been reports that the technology has run into production problems.

Processor • Every year, the iPhone gets a bump in the processor speed, and this year will be no different. It will be faster for sure, but no one seems to know how much.

Camera • With this year’s releases of the HTC One, the Samsung Galaxy 4S and the Nokia 1020, the iPhone no longer has the top smartphone camera. The other phones produce better pictures in low light, and they have more software features.

Expect Apple to meet the challenge with a camera that could increase the resolution to 12 or 13 megapixels. More importantly, the new iPhone likely will have a better camera sensor with a larger aperture to allow more light in. There’s also strong evidence the phone will have two LED flashes for the rear camera so the sensor can more accurately light a scene before taking a picture in low light.

Color • In addition to the standard white and black models, there also will be a gold version, or to be more exact, a “champagne”-colored iPhone. Why? To help distinguish those owners who have the new phone, which believe it or not is a big deal for many. Also, gold apparently is a popular color in countries such as China and India.

iOS 7 • The biggest change in this year’s phone won’t be the hardware. It’s in the software. For the first time since the iPhone’s introduction in 2007, the operating system is getting a major overhaul. The new version, called iOS 7, is completely redesigned from the ground up with a new interface and new features such as a pseudo-3D home screen and better multitasking.

There may not be any surprises that we don’t already know — beta versions of the operating system have been trickling out to developers for some time.

But there is one thing about the operating system that could be the phone’s most important advancement — how much it saves on battery life. Apple has touted that the OS uses intelligent programming to help save battery power. If that results in significantly prolonged battery life, that could be one of the phone’s killer features.

Cheaper iPhone • If Jobs were still alive today, this is one of those times when he would state his famous line, “One more thing. . .”

Apple is expected to announce a new cheaper iPhone 5 — some say it will be dubbed the “iPhone 5C” — that will have a plastic case, possibly come in different colors and have fewer features than the iPhone 5S.

How much cheaper the phone will be than the standard iPhone’s $199 price tag, no one seems to know, but it could replace Apple’s long-held practice of selling a new iPhone and then lowering the price of its 1- and 2-year-old iPhones. It’s possible Apple could stop selling the iPhone 5 or the iPhone 4S after the introduction of the 5S and instead sell this new so-called iPhone 5C at a reduced price.

Why a cheaper phone? Apple would love to make inroads in countries including China with the sale of a low-cost iPhone. Also, it could be a way to finally close the gap between the newer iPhones that have the larger, wider screens and the new Lightning connector with the older iPhones.

vince@sltrib.com

Twitter: @ohmytech