SAN JOSE, Calif. – Apple is expected to launch its iPhone 5 this week, sporting a custom quad-core processor, LTE, an upgraded image sensor and a new, smaller connector. Pundits debate whether the new handset will pack near-field communications and a larger display.
Apple has scheduled a press conference at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center Wednesday (Sept. 12). But the questions about just what any new device announced there does or does not have inside may need to wait until systems go on sale and tear down experts examine them.
Meanwhile, experts believe Apple needs to catch up with the likes of its Android rivals who are already shipping handsets with quad-core ARM Cortex A9 processors and support LTE.
Apple’s next A-series apps processor will likely include four Cortex A9s and four PowerVR graphics cores, if Apple maintains the same processor vendors it used for previous A-series designs, said Allan Yogasingam, a tear down expert at UBM TechInsights (Ottawa), a division of UBM LLC which publishes EE Times. In addition, the iPhone 5 will likely use the same Qualcomm MDM9600 baseband processor in the latest iPad which supports LTE.
Apple’s archrival Samsung and others have been shipping LTE handsets for some time. Apple might try to differentiate itself by using a baseband that also supports China’s 3G standard TD-SCDMA, said Will Strauss, principal of market watcher Forward Concepts (Tempe, Ariz.).
“TD-SCDMA support would be a real coup because they could have a single phone that could be used virtually worldwide though you will never get all the global LTE spectrum bands supported,” said Strauss. “There’s a ready market for TD-SCDMA in China Mobile which has become the world’s largest buyer for cellphones-- bigger than AT&T and Verizon,” he said.
Apple's iPhone 5 is expected to pack a custom quad-core ARM A9 processor.
Apple could make the leap to packing four of ARM’s latest A15 cores in its apps processor. Texas Instruments is shipping a quad A15 chip focused on cellular basestations. But the move would be a surprisingly large leap for Apple, said both Yogasingam and Strauss, who expect the Apple A-series to use four A9 cores.
Apple is widely expected to upgrade the iPhones aging connector to a slimmer design with fewer pins. The connector gives Apple hardware designers more wiggle room, but it would force end users to buy new peripherals or at least adapters to link new handsets to existing docks.
The connector “could put a lot of product lines out of business,” said Strauss. “It’s good news, bad news—they get to sell the same damn thing with a new connector,” he said.