What are you realistically expecting in the new iPhone and iOS 7?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| April 4, 2013

Here in the next few months, we should finally get to see an Apple event geared towards their iPhone lineup, or maybe about iOS. While it’s rumored that we could get a new iPad event before that, the new iPhone, and especially the new iOS, are all hot topics full of controversy and plenty of discussion. The rumor mill is starting to pick up the pace about Apple’s upcoming plans, and it’s turning into a mixed bag. If this keeps up, we should have a plethora of options to choose from, and we could probably build our own iPhone 5S to our liking.

Of course, what really comes down the pipe from Apple will ultimately only have two options: Elation or disappointment. As we’ve seen in the past, the Cupertino-based company has the ability to elicit those types of reactions regarding their hardware and software. I’ve spoken with people in the past who are indifferent about Apple as a company, but who have absolutely hated devices like the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4S. They’d rather use just about any other smartphone then pick up those marginally updated devices.

We’re right on the cusp of an announcement that could turn into one of those “S” events. There are still rumblings that Apple could be gearing up to announce something else entirely, to break away from the molds of their history, and to rock the socks off the world with their ability to buck the trend of their own design. It’s possible, sure, and we could see that being done in another way: A cheaper iPhone, made of different materials, and not simply a reduced-in-price iPhone 5. However, the safer bet is that Apple will launch an iPhone 5S, meaning we’ll see the same physical design, but with a few tweaks, or “improvements” here and there.

I wrote earlier in the week that I can’t see myself upgrading to the new iPhone if its biggest draw is an updated camera. Rumors had begun suggesting that the iPhone 5S’s one big upgrade would be a new 13MP camera on the back, up from the 8 megapixel shooter currently installed in the iPhone 5. There’s no doubt in my mind that Apple is going to put a big focus on the camera in their new iPhone, seeing as companies like Nokia and HTC are making a real effort to make that part of the conversation in 2013. I just won’t upgrade if that’s the only upgraded feature.

On the other hand, near the end of March we started hearing reports that Jony Ive, the lead of Apple’s human interface iOS software team, had given iOS a new “flat design.” The same reports point out that this new design would be “starker and simpler” than previous versions of iOS. As our own Anna Scantlin pointed out, a “starker and simpler” iOS would be pretty hard to do, seeing as it’s still touted as the simplest mobile operating system for consumers. “It just works” and all that.

Now, this week, we’re hearing that iOS may be subjected to bigger changes after all. As revealed through a Branch discussion begun a couple of days ago, Apple-focused writers like MG Siegler, John Gruber, and Rene Ritchie all articulated their thoughts on iOS 7, and what they’ve been hearing from their individual sources. The main takeaway, as Alex Wagner reported, is that iOS 7 will see major overhaul in its user interface. This sounds like it could be a bit more than just a “flat design,” so it would be reasonable to start getting excited about what Apple is getting ready to unveil later this year.

The bad news is that many of those same sources have revealed that iOS is running behind schedule. Considering the individuals that have left Apple, especially those directly involved in iOS’s development, this isn’t a big surprise. However, there is a small chance that this could mean Apple will unveil both iOS 7 and the new iPhone at the same time, which I don’t think would be a terrible idea at all.

Fingers are pointing at this June for an announcement, which could mean that the new iOS and iPhone could launch this summer.

Realistically, I’m trying to keep my excitement in check. There are some rumors I’m thinking are going to pan out, but otherwise I’m looking more into Apple’s past announcements for what to expect in the future. Specifically, I believe that we’ll see the 16GB iPhone 5 drop in price and be the “cheap” option available once the iPhone 5S becomes available. Moreover, I believe that there won’t be a 16GB iPhone 5S; we’ll just see a 32GB, 64GB, and a 128GB option, but with the same price points as the current generation of devices. (The HTC One is at 32GB, and it starts at $199, for what it’s worth.)

I also think we’ll definitely see an upgraded camera, and a new processor tucked away inside the familiar frame of the iPhone 5S. As far as the software is concerned, I wish I had a better guess at this point. But, based on the rumors, I believe it’s anyone’s game at this point. I will say that I do think this is the year iOS sees some kind of overhaul, whether that be into a starker, simpler design, or into something completely different. iOS will change this year.

So what do you realistically expect Apple to announce later this year? A brand new, totally redesigned iPhone? Or an iPhone 5S with the same design as the 5? Do you expect iOS to see an overhaul of some kind, or will it look the same as every iteration before it? Do you much care at all what Apple announces, or have you already promised yourself to devices like the HTC One or Samsung’s Galaxy S 4? Let me know.

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