The Apple vs. Samsung mentality has been huge this past year and a half. From the iPhone 4S competing with the Galaxy S II to the iPhone 5 competing against the Galaxy S III, both sides are clamoring for the title of "The Best", and now that Samsung has announced the Galaxy S 4 Apple truly has some catching up to do. I for one think that this year warrants some changes, and I think they might do it.
The pattern with Apple lately has been creating a "new" model and then improving upon the same model the following year. We've seen this with the iPhone 3G which was followed by the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4 followed by the iPhone 4S. If we're assuming that Apple is going to follow the same trend, we would expect to see an iPhone 5S (or something of the sort) later this year - but are they really going to take that route after the outcome of last year's iPhone 5 release? Although the results weren't terrible, they were a far cry from what Apple predicted. Something needs to change and they're going to have to do a little better than an iPhone 5S. I think this year they're going to break from their mold and skip the 5S altogether and release something completely different.
I'm going to take a moment to say here that none of these suspicions have been confirmed or even been hinted at by Apple or any reliable source. This is just a gut feeling that I have that something unexpected is going to show up from Apple given the high success and attention that the Galaxy S III and 4 has been given. Here's what I think will change within the next iPhone release:
Some would say that moving from a 3.5-inch display to a 4-inch display was big enough, but they got a lot of slack for only making the display taller instead of taller and wider. I believe with the next iPhone they're going to make the screen significantly larger because that's just what people want. While iPhones are notorious for keeping smaller screens, I think a 4.5-inch (or something similar) is probably going to be where the next iPhone ends up in order to stay relevant to the demand of the average mobile phone consumer.
I don't think it would kill Apple to include the option to download ringtones or have some type of widget function for specific apps. While it will probably never be as "free" as Android, there's a whole new market of open-source competition that's going to be released this year and unless Apple loosens the reigns at least a little then people are going to notice more than ever how restricted they really are on Apple &- unless you jailbreak, which a lot of people don’t bother hassling with.
Siri was a huge hit for the iPhone 4S. People loved that it had witty, intelligent responses and could respond much better than your typical voice command system on any platform. The Galaxy S III introduced Smart Stay, and the Galaxy S 4 continued with the Smart features by adding Smart Scrolling and Smart Pause, not to mention other notable features like S Translator, S Health, and Air Gestures. The Galaxy Series also has a comparable system to Siri, S Voice. Needless to say, Siri by itself isn't going to cut it anymore. I believe that Apple realizes this and (hopefully) will add some new creative features like they did with Siri. Consumers want better, they want more, and they want it now.
Apple has to know that whatever Samsung is doing is "what works" now, and if Apple continues to do what they've been doing they're going to find themselves in a very bad situation sooner or later. I don't believe the company is "lost" without Steve Jobs. The iPhone 5 was the first iPhone that showed any sign of the company being overtaken by anybody else, and now that they've seen what happens I think they're going to change.
Or, you know, I could be completely wrong and we'll see an iPhone 5S that doesn't change much of anything at all. I guess we'll have to wait and see, but I have high hopes that things will change this year.