iPad 3 Should Provide Clues As To iPhone 5 CPU ; Release Date

I agree with Michael Nace that the next model iPhone will arrive in 2012, and be called the iPhone 5. Not so much that we’ll have to wait for 2014 before we see an iPhone 6. My guess would be sometime in 2013 for the iPhone 6, although it’s way too early to make any really positive predictions on that.

What we can be reasonably sure of is that the iPad 3 will arrive first — the current consensus in the scuttlebutt mills is sometime in March or April, but with OEM suppliers in Taiwan and China reportedly already ramping up iPad 3 component production, it could conceivably be even earlier than that.

One of the most intriguing aspects associated with the upcoming iPad 3 release, as discussed by Michael last Monday, is whether it will be powered by a quad-core A6 CPU. Most of the buzz recently has been focused on the next iPad’s screen resolution, which is speculated to be Retina class, and in the neighborhood of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels. Chinese Apple-watcher blogsite M.I.C. Gadget’s Star Chang reports that according to the latest info from a Taiwanese analyst, Apple OEM subcontractor Foxconn has arranged its iPad department to have only five days off during the upcoming major Chinese Lunar New Year holiday in order to meet anticipated market demand for the next generation iPad 3 announcement in February ahead of a March release.

If the iPad 3 turns out to still have a dual-core A5 CPU, then there’s a very strong chance that the 2012 iPhone 5 will as well. It’s highly doubtful that Apple would choose to launch the quad-core A6 in an iPhone model without first rolling it out in the iPad.

On the other hand, if the iPad 3 does get A6 quad-core silicon, then the likelihood is greatly increased of them finding a way to shoehorn it into the iPhone 5 later in the year.

Personally, I’m thinking both the iPad 3 and iPhone 5 will most likely continue with A5 power, but that’s only based on a hunch and not factual knowledge. If my surmise turns out to be correct, raw computing performance will not be radically improved in the iPhone 5 and iPad 3 from the iPhone 4S and the iPad 2.

As an aside, I don’t think the computing performance improvement in the iPhone 4S thanks to the significantly faster A5 and faster graphics processor generally got fairly acknowledged, with many commentators seeming to get hung up on the 4S name and the carried-over screen dimensions and general form factor.

Anyway, I think something we can count on for the iPhone 5 is support for Long-Term Evolution (LTE) connectivity, which carriers are busily gearing up for in order to offer faster streamed video and other data services consumers increasingly demand. Some Android handsets already offer LTE connectivity, and RIM has affirmed that its next-generation BlackBerry 10 based smartphones that are projected for release around mid-year will also be ready to run on LTE networks.

That’s one of the reasons why I think the iPhone 5 will replace the iPhone 4S as early as the World Wide Developers Conference in June, which of course would be after less than a full year’s production run, but return to the traditional time for iPhone updates, and allow Apple to get in front of RIM for LTE support.

That’s of course provided they can get the technical, chip supply, and engineering issues related to LTE ironed out.

I also am guessing that there will finally be a larger display in the iPhone 5, although not radically larger — probably four inches or not much larger. Maybe a slightly thicker form factor as well to accommodate the new stuff inside and provide adequate battery capacity to power it. It’s being rumored that the iPad 3 will be thicker than the iPad 2 for the same reason.

Flash video support? Dare we hope? The lack of Flash is an ongoing major pain with iOS devices. Not a deal-breaker for me as long as I have a Mac handy, but still mighty inconvenient at times. My wife, who spends a lot of time on music sites simply refuses to use a machine that doesn’t support Flash.

Anyway, our first concrete indication of what’s coming in the iPhone 5 will come with the iPad 3. I don’t think there’s much chance of Flash support that early even if it’s in the offing, but what CPU it’s equipped with will likely tip us to what the iPhone 5′s silicon will be — A5 or A6.



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