After four generations, it is paradoxically more difficult to find out exactly what to expect from Apple for a simple reason. Unlike the iPod, Apple now has to face a real and serious threat, Android, whose presence on the mobile device market is heavily influencing Apple's decision (see our article here).
Still, we can hedge our bets on how the iPhone 5 (or 5G) will look like in June 2011 although none of us would have predicted that Apple would come up with such a radically different design for the iPhone 4.
(1) No change in screen resolution or screen size
We don't expect Apple to change the screen size or the screen resolution for the iPhone 5. It currently stands at 3.5-inch and has a definition of 960x640 pixels. Ideally, we'd like to see a 1024x768 on a 4-inch screen, something that would be closer to the iPad and allow for apps to be natively shared across both devices. However, this is unlikely to happen at all because there's an unwritten rule saying that tablets need to have a 4:3 screen ration while mobile phones need to stick to a 3:2 one at least.
(2) No change in storage capacity
Apple has not increased the capacity of its iPhone 4 to 64GB as we were expecting it to do. This might have something to do with the fact that rivals do not appear to be keen on increasing onboard storage capacity.
In fact, the competition seems to be relying more on external (and optional) microSD cards to beef up storage. Furthermore, the increased reliance of users on cloud services and storage means that the amount of storage needed has actually stabilised. So no increase in onboard memory size for the iPhone 5G in 2011.
(3) More integration with the Apple family
Currently, integration between Apple mobile and non-mobile products is minimal. For example, there's no iPod or iPhone dock on the Apple TV and yet others have embraced the iPhone and the iPod altogether. Tightening the integration between Apple's many products will ensure a more seamless ecosystem which in turn will translate into more sales and happier customers as Apple gradually turns into a mobile company. Better Mac integration with the iPhone 5 is what awaits us in 2011.
(4) Enhanced Wireless Connectivity
You still need to connect to a computer via wires to upgrade your iPhone and the USB cable is still the default mode of connection for the iPhone. Which considering this being a wireless device, is slightly tinted with irony. Ditto for the fact that you need connect it to something to charge up. Hopefully, by this time next year, Apple will have sorted some kind of wireless "touch" charging, which was introduced last year by Palm with the Pre. Likewise, we'd be chuffed if Apple could bring wireless USB onboard the iPhone 5.
(5) 4G Option
We already know that some networks, like Verizon in the US, are already looking forward to launch a 4G network in the near future and the iPhone 5 could well be the ideal partner to spearhead such a debut. Adding 4G functionality to the iPhone 4G is something the company must have looked into, even as a rudimentary working prototype.