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Ihnatko: What I predict about the iPhone 5

How might iPhone 5 differ from current iPhone? AP file photo

How might the iPhone 5 differ from the current iPhone? AP file photo

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Updated: September 30, 2012 6:15AM

Never make any plans based on any rumors you might hear about anything that Apple might do. Wise advice, followed by all people with a lick of common sense.

So, yeah, I’ve booked a flight to San Francisco on Sept. 10 and a week’s worth of hotel. Apple might hold a media event on Sept. 12, and it might not. It might announce the next iPhone, and it might not. But I think “there will” and “they will,” so whoosh! Off I go.

What I’m expecting to see from the next iPhone:

1) It’ll have a real name. It’s tempting to think it’ll be called “the new iPhone” just as this year’s iPad wasn’t called “iPad 3.” But Apple keeps several revisions of hardware in play: the new one, last year’s model (sold for $99), and an older model for the “prepaid/free with contract” crowd. They need distinctions.

2) It’ll have a larger screen. The popularity of big-screen Android phones demonstrates that the public likes phones with more screen real estate.

But the screen will be longer rather than larger. Apple also cares about usability. Keeping the width the same means the entire UI can still be covered by the sweep of a thumb, and the iPhone can still be used one-handed.

3) There’ll be a new, smaller dock connector. Many will complain about their $300 boomboxes or integrated car docks not being compatible, but they’ll get over it. Space inside the iPhone is at a super-premium and if Apple can free up several millimeters with a narrower connector, it’s a win.

4) It’ll be thinner. Because Apple is a glutton for thinness, if that makes any sense.

5) The camera will be better. And I don’t think it’ll be with a 10 megapixel sensor. Apple consistently cares about “a better feature” and not “a higher number.” It’ll improve the existing 8-megapixel sensor, which is already best-in-class. A faster processor will make it a smarter, faster camera with ninja-like focus and white balance.

6) Yes, it’ll be faster. Because these things always are. I expect it to have the same class of processing hardware as the current iPad. Apple defines its phones as “post-PC devices.” Plus, it needs to be able to drive a high-def Apple TV as well as anything else it sells . . . ergo, super-fast CPU and graphics processing.

Now we move on to the Wheel Of Possibilities.

LTE? My God. Apple simply has to get into the “real” 4G game, and soon: It’s a defining advantage of Android phones. The customary hitch is the inability to roll it out internationally, but Apple will do what it did with the new iPad: LTE in the U.S., and “good luck” to the rest of the world.

But Apple definitely won’t do it unless it can say “. . . And the battery life is nearly identical to the iPhone 4S.” So: The ball’s in the air.

NFC? I was once bullish on near-field communications. Today, I don’t think it’s anywhere near Apple’s list of priorities. It definitely wants the iPhone to be a viable wallet for electronic payments. But it can get that job done through means that are simpler for Apple, developers and retailers: a camera that scans a code from the screen.

But who knows? Never believe a prediction or a rumor about an Apple product until Tim Cook is seen posing alongside it. The only thing I’m counting on that week is getting an In-N-Out Burger at Fisherman’s Wharf.

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