A Few Changes, Like the Use of Nano-SIMs, Surprise Analysts

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-09-09 Print this article Print


One thing that seems to be catching many analysts by surprise is that the iPhone 5 will use nano-SIMs. These are about 60 percent of the size of the current micro-SIMs used by most smartphones. But there should be no surprise. The European Telecommunications Standards Institute approved Apple's design for a standard nano-SIM on June 1. This alone should have been a total giveaway. In order to get ETSI approval, Apple has agreed to license the nano-SIM to other phone makers, so you can expect to see more of them.

Apple is also changing the standard connector that supplies power and USB communications, according to rumors too numerous to list here. Again, this is no surprise as the old dock connector was fairly large, and could easily be inserted upside down. Using a smaller connector reduces the space required inside the phone, leaving more room for things like headphone connectors and speakers. But this does create another question: Why not just use a micro-USB like everyone else?

If I had to guess, it's likely that only Apple will sell docking cables for the new connector, and that Apple won't license them to anyone else. Ready for a cable patent war, anyone?

So what else can we expect when the new iPhone 5 arrives? It'll be thinner, it will probably have a quad-core processor, the screen may have stronger glass, and the back of the case will be metal again, which would be necessary for the structural integrity of a thinner yet larger phone. This means again that the iPhone 5 is playing catch-up to the Android and Windows devices already being sold or that have already been announced. No surprises here.

You also already know that the iPhone 5 will run iOS 6. Again, that's no surprise since it was announced months ago, and at the time Apple said it would be on the iPhone 5, as well as on earlier iPhones and iPads. iOS 6 will provide a number of useful features, including an improved version of Siri, the virtual assistant. But you don't need to buy an iPhone 5 to get iOS 6.

I'm sure that there will be some cool new features that iPhone true believers will find irresistible. But will they make the iPhone 5 something that people who might otherwise buy an Android or Windows phone change course? Probably not.

This isn't to suggest that Apple won't sell a gazillion iPhone 5 devices, because they will. But Apple's incremental change process isn't likely to produce any blockbuster changes that will drive sales away from Android devices or that will make the people who want the innovations in the new Windows Phone 8 devices change their minds. The cool features will be fun, and the iPhone fans will love them. But I don't see them adding to iPhone dominance when the most that Apple is doing right now is playing catch-up.

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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