What will be the iPhone 5's make or break feature?

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: February 6, 2012

If Apple sticks to routine (which they've been slipping on lately), we should be introduced to the iPhone 5 sometime later this year – hopefully sooner rather than later. We can't be sure what exactly the device will entail, but rest assured the Internet will be putting its imagination to work over the next four to nine months in an attempt to guess what the Cupertino-based company will bring to market.

If there is one thing we're absolutely certain of, the iPhone 5 will be iconic, or at least a classic, regardless of what it brings. The word on the street is that this is the last device that the late Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, was "intimately involved" with. Unlike devices that are several years down the road that might have the Jobs touch, the iPhone 5 (if that's what it's to be called) will be the last device he directly worked on.

If nothing else, among the Apple fans out there, this phone will be a memorable one.

To those who care more about the device itself (not by whom or how it was made and designed), however, the iPhone 5 could be a make or break device. It's not like Apple will just fall out of the mobile game. But over the last couple years, Apple has had trouble keeping up with demand and competition alike. With a handful of manufacturers working for Google and Microsoft, Apple is finally beginning to feel the pressure of licensed software and outsourced hardware.

In other words, we expected the iPhone 5 in 2011 but were mostly disappointed when we learned that the 2011 upgrade to the iPhone was nothing more than the evolutionary (but still respectable) iPhone 4S. We didn't see the rumored new design or a larger display like we were hoping and a year's worth of rumors went down the drain.

This has set the bar high for 2012 – maybe too high. All of those rumors about the iPhone 5 that started in 2010 will continue and build until Tim Cook and Co. take the stage in the summer months. But here lies the question: what will be the make or break feature of the iPhone 5 for you?

There are a lot of different directions Apple could take with the iPhone 5. Aaron told us what he wants to see in the iPhone 5 late last week, including a 4-inch display, LTE and (official) T-Mobile support, better battery life, iOS 6 and a new design. I think we can all agree, for the most part, that these are the biggest changes we would like to see introduced with the new iPhone this year. But will you still buy the iPhone 5 if it has the same design as the iPhone 4 and 4S? The same camera? No 4G LTE? No global support? A non-Retina Display?

For me, there are only two make or break features.

First, I need a larger display. Over time, I've learned to cope with the 3.5-inch display of the iPhone. But in no way is it comfortable for me to use. Browsing the Web is constricted and requires a ton of panning and zooming. Typing forces me to use the very tips of my enormous thumbs. And watching videos on the tiny iPhone display simply pales in comparison to videos on the Galaxy Nexus' 4.65-incher. The problem with bumping the size iPhone display is that Apple will have to also bump resolution, else they will lose the Retina Display moniker. If they do increase the resolution, they could step on developers' toes by forcing them to update their apps with support for yet another resolution. Personally, I don't care what resolution they go with, so long as the display retains a fairly similar ppi count.

Unlike Aaron, I would prefer something a little larger than a 4-inch display as I have larger (read: chunkier) hands – but I agree that 4-inches is the sweet spot for the general populace. Nonetheless, a larger display would require some form of design change. I wouldn't mind if the design changes, but I won't complain if the phone looks the same either. A larger version of the same design would be perfectly fine with me.

The other must-have is 4G LTE. I've been on 3G for way too long now. After getting a taste of LTE on the ThunderBolt and stepping back to 3G (and HSPA+ on T-Mobile), 3G has never felt so slow. The first few months back on 3G weren't so bad. But when it comes to downloading files and actually getting my money's worth out of what I pay for my grandfathered unlimited data plan on Big Red, I would much rather use LTE.

The only problem with LTE and a larger display is that they are two of the biggest culprits for battery drain. I just have to trust that Apple will compensate for higher power consumption with a much larger battery. Here's to hoping ...

Anyway, enough about me and my needs. What do you need to see in the next iPhone before you decide to purchase it? A quad-core processor, larger display, double the memory or LTE? Take our poll below, and if your must-have feature isn't listed, choose "Other" and tell us in the comments!

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