Apple (AAPL) is set to release the iPhone 5S later this year, perhaps as soon as September, but more likely in October. Given the company's need to come up with a product to reinvigorate the perception the company can still innovate, it's likely that Apple is going to show off a couple of features that make you say "oooh" and "ahhh" like only Apple can.
Apple recently announced it sold 31.2 million iPhones in its fiscal third-quarter quarter, en route to generating $35.3 billion in revenue for the period. That was up from 26 million in the year-ago period, and CEO Tim Cook alleviated investor concerns that the high-end of the smartphone market is slowing. "And I don't subscribe to the common view that the higher end if you will of the smartphone market is at its peak," Cook said on Apple's most recent earnings call.
One way to demonstrate that there's still plenty of growth at the high-end is by adding new features. The most noteworthy new feature expected from the iPhone 5S is the fingerprint technology, which Apple acquired when it purchased AuthenTec in 2012. In fact, some on Wall Street were speculating that the fingerprint technology could be used to unlock the phone or for payment processing.
In addition to the oft-rumored fingerprint technology, the iPhone 5S is thought to have a larger camera, the same 4-inch screen currently seen on the iPhone 5, and the left side buttons may wind up being arranged differently.
The casing and backing on the iPhone 5S is likely going to be similar to the iPhone 5, as Apple doesn't make many physical changes to the "S" series of the iPhone. Much of the changes come in software and services, with the biggest one so far being Siri, which was released as part of the iPhone 4S.
The chips that may be used in the iPhone 5S could go a long way towards actually selling more iPhones. If Apple uses Qualcomm's new global chip, the RF360, which was unveiled in February, it could actually allow China Mobile, the world's largest carrier with over 700 million subscribers, to officially support an iPhone on its network. It's thought that there are as many as 10 million iPhones on the China Mobile network, though the company doesn't officially support it. Cook recently visited with China Mobile for the second time this year to discuss "matters of cooperation," further adding fuel to the fire.
The RF360 supports the following networks: LTE-FDD, LTE-TDD, WCDMA, EV-DO, CDMA 1x, TD-SCDMA and GSM / EDGE, which would allow Apple to make a "global iPhone," which supports LTE connectivity. That would not only allow Apple to cut down on costs, but support every major network immediately.
It's also possible that Apple unveils the latest version of its A-series processors, the A7, used to run its iDevices. In doing so, Apple would to show that it might change from unveiling the newest A-series chips in the iPad first.
Apple designs its own chips using intellectual property from ARM Holdings, but the chips are manufactured elsewhere.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple will also likely try to extend battery life on the iPhone, which has been a concern recently not only with Apple, but smartphones in general. The iPhone 5 has 8 hours of browsing time on LTE networks, 8 hours of talk time and 10 hours of talk time. With Apple unveiling exceptional battery life in its new MacBook Airs, you can bet that Apple will try to do the same in its newest iPhone.
Aside from physical features of the iPhone 5S, the biggest change may wind up being iOS 7, Apple's mobile operating system. The new OS has a drastically different look than its predecessors, with flatter icons, and a new color scheme some have said is incredibly vibrant and eye catching.
Part of the fun about the new iPhone is not just the product itself, but what features will (and won't) be included. As the release gets closer, the rumor mill will continue to ramp, and may wind up reaching escape velocity, considering how much pressure is on Apple to deliver something this year.
Whatever Apple does indeed announce, it's sure to capture the interest and imagination of media, industry analysts, consumers and Wall Street alike. That's "one more thing" we all will be waiting for.