Apple put iPad 2 rumors to rest by unveiling the next-generation tablet March 2, clearing the way for media and bloggers to obsess about another company product reportedly in the pipeline: the iPhone 5.
If Apple follows its pattern from past years, this summer will see the release of its next iPhone. And according to a report in Taiwan's Economic Daily News, as repeated March 7 on blogs such as Apple Insider, Apple's upcoming smartphone will emphasize aluminum over the iPhone 4's glass casing, and possibly eliminate the exterior antenna rim that has caused the company no end of headaches.
The iPhone 5 will also reportedly include Apple's A5 processor, just unveiled in conjunction with the iPad 2. Backing the smartphone with aluminum instead of glass, in theory, will help prevent the scratches that cause a certain subset of iPhone users to burst into tears of unimaginable grief.
The elimination of the current iPhone's exterior antenna rim could slam the final coffin-nail into an issue that's plagued Apple since last summer, when iPhone 4 owners reported that gripping the smartphone in a certain way, with their bare hand, resulted in radical signal dampening. Those "death grip" reports sprung back to life with this year's release of the Verizon iPhone. A bumper or slipcase around the iPhone 4's antenna rim will solve the issue, at the cost of the device's minimalist aesthetics.
Rumors have flown for months about possible additions to the iPhone 5, with pundits freely conjecturing about everything from more powerful cameras and upgraded hardware to 3G-enabled FaceTime video-conferencing.
The introduction of the iPhone 4 on Verizon has the possibility to alter how and when Apple chooses to debut the next version. The possibility exists that it could stick to the traditional schedule, releasing the iPhone 5 on AT&T at the usual point during the summer, followed by a Verizon-compatible device in early February-that would keep both carriers' devices on the yearly refresh cycle that Apple seems to prefer for many of its products. But there's also the chance that Apple could debut an iPhone 5 this summer compatible with both carriers. Or even push its summer refresh cycle until later in the year.
That uncertainty, coupled with Apple's habitual refusal to share information about upcoming releases, helps keep the company's rumor mill at a constant, deafening buzz. But as the iPad 2 demonstrated, that rumor mill is only semi-accurate at best when it comes to predicting new hardware and software.