While its nothing we haven’t seen with past iterations of the iPhone, leading up to the launch of what we’ll call the iPhone 5 the tech world is once again awash in a torrent of rumours and leaked photos, several of the latter appearing earlier this week on tech site 9to5Mac.
According to 9to5Mac, the pictures are of what could be the new back plate of the next iPhone or one of the early prototypes, given to the site by reliable Korean mobile repair firm iFixyouri.
Taken of course with a large grain of salt—as previously leaked pictures of prototype iPhones have often proven to be more misleading than actually helpful—the picture shows several key changes for Apple’s flagship mobile line, which certainly comes as a surprise for a company that has employed metronome-like consistency with its product form factor over the last few years.
So here’s what you’re looking at and what it could mean for users and developers alike:
As I said, with most leaks of this nature there’s simply no way to verify the authenticity of the pictures or whether or not anything we see will end up in the final product when it hits shelves later this year. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time someone doctored some photos to generate some hype or simply took a picture of an engineering prototype.
But what we see here is a phone that is noticeably longer than previous versions of the iPhone, a change that could have far reaching effects. While changing the display might bring better viewing options for users (perhaps as a way of incorporated the similarly unmatched resolution we saw on the latest iPad), it will almost certainly create a monumental headache for developers, having designed software specifically for the iPhone’s standard screen.
“Once you change the length of the screen and not the width, then you’re going to have a completely different resolution than you had before,” said Miroslav Djuric, chief information architect for iFixit, a parts provider for Apple products. “So applications will look extra wide or extra scrunched, depending on the orientation.”
Beyond that, it looks like Apple may have fiddled with the external configuration of the iPhone as well, solving previous antenna issues by relocating it to the back plate, moving headphone jack and significantly shrinking the dock connector port on the device. The latter change may also have far reaching effects, given that since the inception of the iPod Apple devices have basically had a uniform dock connector, allowing peripherals to be used on multiple devices; change the connector, and suddenly all those peripherals become expensive paper weights.
There is also some speculation that the increased size and the reformed configuration will allow Apple to increase the size of the battery or the speakers, or perhaps even both, the former being an absolute necessity given the fact that the iPhone 5 will be LTE compliant.
So what should we make of all this? Under the leadership of Tim Cook I’ve certainly noticed a marked increase in leaked information regarding upcoming products, a point that the late Steve Jobs worked tirelessly to prevent. This has led Apple to acknowledge that it needs to tighten up its product security, perhaps adding credence to the notion that these pictures may, in fact, be credible.