Never before in the recent history of Apple product announcements has the famously tight-lipped company confirmed the name of a gadget in advance. But that’s what happened Tuesday when the invites arrived for a special event on September 12 — featuring a giant 5 in the shadow of the date.
Apple famously wrong-footed the media around this time last year, announcing the iPhone 4S after every outlet on the planet had predicted the device would be called the iPhone 5. No clues as blatant as this one had been offered beforehand, and as a result, many attendees at the product launch felt underwhelmed.
The process happened again in March of this year, when Apple watchers were expecting an iPad 3 or iPad HD— only to be greeted with a tablet that the Cupertino company simply called “the new iPad.”
Even prior to the original iPhone announcement in 2007, there was some doubt as to whether the device would actually be called an iPhone. Cisco already had an IP telephony product with that name; not until Steve Jobs pulled one out on stage at Moscone West in San Francisco did it emerge that the two companies had come to an agreement.
So that giant shadowy 5 could well be a sign that Apple is going to be a little less mysterious in its product launch process from this point on; that it feels some of the frenzied speculation could actually be doing it harm. Perhaps it wants to make clear we won’t be talking about “the new iPhone” eight days from now. The iPhone numbering system lives on.
Indeed, if the iPhone 5 is little more than the incremental innovations we’ve been hearing about — a longer, thinner screen, a smaller dock connector, and no NFC (near-field communications, which would allow you to pay in stores with your phone) — it may be a prudent move for the company to deflate the bubble of speculation a little.
Which isn’t to say there is no mystery surrounding the September 12 event. We still don’t know if Apple will debut the much-anticipated iPad Mini there, or leave that for a separate event later in the fall.
Apple Sends Out Invitations for iPhone 5 Event
Apple just sent members of the press invitations to an event on Sept. 12. With the prominent number “5″ in the invitation’s image, the event is undoubtedly when the company will unveil its next iPhone, often referred to as the “iPhone 5″ by the media.
San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Apple’s traditional choice for big unveilings, will serve as the venue. The event will begin at 10 a.m. Pacific Time (1 p.m. Eastern).
The wait for the iPhone 5 has been a long one. Many had expected Apple to deliver a radical redesign when the company unveiled the iPhone 4S last fall, but all the rumors about larger screens and tapered casings proved false when Apple unveiled a phone that was virtually identical to the last version.
The 4S was technically Apple’s fifth iPhone, but observers soon transferred the “iPhone 5″ label to the next version. Rumors and alleged leaks have continued, and although Apple has confirmed nothing, there is a consensus about some of the features the next iPhone will have.
A larger screen appears almost a certainty — most rumors and supposed component photos point to the iPhone 5 having a 4-inch screen. Apple is apparently going to shrink the dock connector in an effort to keep the product as thin as possible, though that will mean users will need an adapter to connect the phone to older accessories. And a high-speed LTE connection appears a certainty.
One thing guaranteed is that the new iPhone will ship with iOS 6, the new mobile software Apple revealed back in June.
While the new iPhone will be the clear headliner at the event, Apple will probably reveal other products as well, such as a refreshed iPod lineup (before iPhone launches were moved to the fall, the company’s September events traditionally focused on the iPod). The company may also unveil an iPad Mini, a smaller-screen version of its popular iPad tablet, although recent rumors have pegged that release to take place later in the fall.
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What are you expecting to see in the iPhone 5? Let us know in the comments.