The iPhone 5 Killer Feature Dilemma

The other day, I wrote a post about how the iPhone 5 needed to be a full redesign for a multitude of reasons. Again, this started me thinking about what exactly Apple could do to top the iPhone 4, because even though it has some pretty obvious flaws (see: antenna), it’s still the best cell phone I’ve ever owned by far. Even though I’m just one of those guys who buys the new iPhone per routine, the buying public needs a reason why the latest phone is better than the last one. I started to wonder what the killer feature in this next version could be, because there’s not really much left to do other than continue to keep up with technology.

After much debate, I couldn’t really come up with a firm, definitive answer. Instead, I came up with a few options, some of them more likely to happen than others. Let’s talk about them after the break.

The Camera

Although the iPhone 4 has one of the most popular cameras on Flickr, it’s still not up to the level of the ones found on some Android phones. Some people think it’s all about the megapixels, and granted, that’s a part of the equation. But for a camera to be truly good, there’s got to be more to it than that.

I recently saw a video where a Nokia phone (I think it was Nokia, but I could be wrong) had dual flashes that flanked the lens. This improved image quality in low-light situations dramatically, and that’s one direction I think that Apple could use to improve the camera. Adding the button press to iOS 5 already is a big step in the right direction, and I think we could all guess that Apple will put in an 8 megapixel camera or something similar. But what else? Mechanical lenses aren’t likely, and otherwise, it’s just a megapixel race to the top.

4G

If there’s anything we all want, it’s more speed. Problem is, I just don’t see it happening in the iPhone 5. Maybe the next gen, but for this one, we’re stuck with 3G.

4G sucks up a lot of juice, and the iPhone isn’t known for being the most battery friendly smartphone out there as it is. Plus, 4G isn’t really 4G everywhere, as speeds vary greatly between carriers. I think that most likely we’ll see the iPhone 5 stay with 3G for the current generation, then, when battery life improves, we’ll upgrade to 4G in a similar scenario to the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G.

Capacity

With iOS 5 and iCloud, Apple is moving away from the capacity problem. Part of the reason I decided to switch to an iPhone in the first place was because it could replace my iPod entirely, and for the most part, it has. But with iCloud, any music that’s not on my iPhone now but is on my library at home could me with me in just a few minutes. As soon as the deals are worked out with movies, my hope is they will come too.

So I don’t think that capacity can be a killer feature, nor do I think it’s a probability. No, the iPhone will stay with the same 16/32 qb combo, and that’s all. They might even offer an 8 gb model to get some lower end customers in there, but I don’t see a 48 or 64 gb model showing up anytime soon.

Colors

My iPhone 3G was white, and I’m not quite sure why I was so gung ho about it. Before the purchase, I just wanted my wife and I to have different colors, but by the time I made it to the front of the counter I had one option, and it was white. No biggie, but by the end of the year I had bought a black case because the white looked dirty all the time, and showed scratches easily.

But I’ve had many friends tell me that they’d buy an iPhone if only it came in “X” color. Black and white are pretty universal, and sure, you could just buy a case, but I know people who just want a pink iPhone. Or a blue one. Or whatever.

Will it happen? I doubt it. Imagine showing up to the Apple store, waiting an hour for an iPhone and finding out all they have left is a 16 gb pink model. I wouldn’t buy it, and I’m sure that Apple has enough sales data on hand to know what colors sell well. But is it enough to warrant additional colors? Probably not.

More Carriers

Out of all of these options, I think the most likely one is adding more carriers, particularly in the US. I know we have a lot of international readers, and many of you are fortunate enough to have multiple options for your iPhone provider — sometimes more than 2. We’ve got Verizon and AT&T now, but T-Mobile and AT&T are looking at a merger, leaving us just with Sprint to add to the mix.

If T-Mobile doesn’t merge (or the merge is blocked) then I think they’re the most likely US carrier to get the iPhone. They know they have iPhones on their network, and they’re just fine with it. Sprint most likely wants the iPhone, and if 4G is a realistic option, than it would be great to announce it with Sprint as the carrier. Again, I just don’t see this all happening with this generation, although it will happen soon.

So What Is It?

Got me. I have no idea what the new killer feature will be on the iPhone 5. I think I’ve listed some likely candidates here, but realistically, we’re not talking about any Earth shattering features that will make lines form longer than usual.

Do you have any thoughts on what it could be? Maybe capacitive charging or some other new technology? Let us know in the comments.


  • http://inspirationfeed.com inspirationfeed

    I just hope it will be worth switching, One thing for sure is that T-mobile, Virgin, Sprint, and other cell phone retailers will get the iPhone.

  • Ryan

    Which Android cameras offer better camera image quality? I’m yet to come across any. There’s still a long way these cameras can go when it comes to quality of the optics without resorting to cheap tricks like MP count.

    I don’t see the point in 4G. From what I understand it’s barely anywhere in the US at the moment and over the pond here in Europe we hardly even have decent 3G.

  • Jake

    Actually, there IS something Apple could do to increase the quality of the camera without adding a mechanical lens or more megapixels—they could increase the size of the image sensor, which has a huge effect on the quality of the photos.

  • http://www.halogenic.com Ricky

    I think they’re doing only glass on one side, to prevent scratching the back of the phone. They’ll probably try to make it thinner and lighter, with longer battery life and better antenna.

    The Softbank carrier in my part of Japan isn’t very good. I have trouble getting a signal in parts of the Central Business District. The carrier on my old phone was significantly better. Plus Softbank can’t handle international calls. I had to signup with a second carrier for international calls.

    They could try to break into the e-Payment Solution game, if they can develop the tech and partner with the right companies.

  • Dave

    TYPING / STABLE CALLS / BATTERY LIFE

    – Please make typing easier and more precise on the next iPhone (it is a real pain). In Europe we love to text (we call it SMS) and therefore we type a lot on our phones. It you receive a message with a lot of typos you can immediately tell, that the person uses an iPhone

    – I have never had phones (it is now my third iPhone), which are so lousy in regards to call stability. Constantly calls do not go through, I receive a message, that someone tried to call me (while the phone lies in front of me and did not ring) or the calls just drop. And no, it is not a network problem, because this just happens to iPhones

    – Battery life sucks. The first thing I do when I enter a room is to look for a plug for my iPhone. As a business traveller it is one of the most important tasks to load your iPhone as often as you can. Otherwise it will die for sure on a long day with a lot of calls

    Dont get me wrong I love my iPhone, but it is far (!) from being perfect. There is a lot of room for improvement (which is good news for Apple and for its competitors).

    • Raweden

      As i can tell the problem with call that not get through, is not related to iPhone alone. most typically its related to the service/network and the environment (buildings etc.) your are currently in. Before i went over to get my iPhone 4, i had a SE Xperia 8 (the most worthless piece of crap ever) and it didn’t just drop calls but also a lot of text messages that never get through.

  • http://www.tabletpcunion.com tabletpc

    I think it should include 3D tech

    • Raweden

      iPhone already have 3D support with openGL.