What a New iPad Means for the iPhone

It’s official: March 7th, we’ll see what the new iPad is going to look like, and what fancy new features will drive people to the mall to pick it up in droves. But this isn’t iPad.AppStorm, this is the iPhone site, so what does any of that have to do with us?

Easy. With the original iPad, we saw the A4 chip that ended up in the iPhone 4, the A5 chip from the iPad 2 is currently in the iPhone 4S — and that’s just the start of it all. So what does a new iPad mean for the next iPhone? Let’s find out. 

The Obligatory Disclaimer

Let’s just get the obvious stuff out of the way here, that way I don’t hear it in the comments later. This is all just speculation. No one but the people at Apple really know what’s going to happen next Wednesday, and even all of the information leaks and purported pictures of screens could all be the usual fabricated nonsense. It’s all an educated guess really, so don’t think that I’m preaching the truth here.

With that in mind, let’s have at it.

A Retina Display for the iPad

The most popular rumor about the iPad 3 (again, the presumed name) is the new Retina display screen to match the one on the iPhone. Now to get to the fabled “retina” point while still keeping everything good with developers, Apple doubled the resolution on the iPhone from the 480X320 found on the iPhone 3GS, to the 960X640 resolution on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. This meant that developers could either keep things as is and have slightly fuzzier looking screens for their apps, or enhance them and take advantage of the higher resolution. Today, a year or so after the iPhone 4 made its debut, most apps I use take advantage of the display.

This same thing has to happen with the iPad 3, for the same reasons why it had to happen for the iPhone 4. If Apple wants to keep its developers from redoing everything just to work on the new iPad, they have to double the resolution. This means it goes from 1024X768 to 2048X1536. For perspective, that’s taller than the resolution on a 27-inch Thunderbolt display.

Image via Macrumors.com

Image via Macrumors.com/ifixit.com

So what does this have to do with the iPhone? Apple currently sells HD movies at a 720P resolution, which isn’t really what the rest of the world considers HD at 1080P. If they’re releasing a new iPad, they’re going to want to show off that beautiful display with HD movies, meaning they’ll have to upgrade what’s already out there and maybe offer a discount to people to upgrade their current HD offerings to what I’m guessing they’ll call HD+.

Apple still can’t put HD movies on the iPhone, but it does mean that we, the general Apple community, may be getting true HD films in the iTunes store as soon as next week. And just for reference, if you wanted HD films on your iPhone, you would need to quadruple the resolution found on the iPhone 3GS, giving you a 1920X1280 resolution which I’m not sure is technically possible at the moment.

Faster Processors

The original iPad came with an A4 processor, the same one that would make it into the iPhone 4 a few months later. And again, with the iPad 2 came the A5, which is now in the iPhone 4S. It makes sense then to assume that whatever processor comes in the iPad 3 will also make its way to the iPhone 5, or whatever it is they decide to call it.

Since the current rumor is that the iPad 3 will have a quad-core chip, that means that we’ll have one smokin’ fast iPhone to look forward to. When I bought my original iPad, I felt like it was a speed demon compared to my iPhone, but then when I bought the iPhone 4, it was night and day. I don’t know enough about the technical aspects to really comment as to why, but my guess is that since the iPhone 4 is running a smaller display and has less pixels to push that the processor doesn’t need to do as much work. Man, that’s going to be a fast iPhone.


If you believe people like CNBC, the iPad 3 will also have an LTE option. Now we can guess a lot of things about this, and the obvious conclusion would be that this means that LTE would be coming to the iPhone 5. But I don’t really agree.

And who would believe these guys, anyways?

And who would believe these guys, anyways?

LTE pulls a ton of juice, and the iPad has the benefit of a larger size and therefore, lots more real estate to shove in a few batteries. My iPad lasts for weeks without needing a charge, so plugging in LTE might not give that much of a hit, particularly since I imagine most people don’t use that option as often as they do Wi-Fi.

But the iPhone doesn’t have that kind of space. Apple doesn’t like to put out iPhones that won’t last on a charge all day, which is why the original iPhone was Edge only, not 3G. I’m not willing to put a large chunk of cash on the next iPhone will have LTE onboard — I might put down a buck or two, but not more than five for sure.

Where Does That Leave Us?

Good question, and it’s got a simple answer: nowhere. Until March 7, we’ve got no idea what Apple has in store, and all we can do is throw darts at a dartboard and hope they fall in the right places. And even then, we still won’t know what will happen with the next iPhone until the Fall. Kind of frustrating, really.

But sometimes it sure is fun to guess, isn’t it?