Apple’s big ‘iPhone 5’ announcement: What to expect

September 12, 2012

Apple’s holding a big news event Wednesday, which is widely expected to be the launch of the iPhone 5. While it’s not always easy to guess what, exactly, Apple’s up to, here’s what to expect from Wednesday’s announcement. The event is expected to begin in San Francisco at 10 a.m. Pacific time (1 p.m. Eastern).

** LIVE BLOG: It’s more than just a gadget launch ** (Updating now.)

A new iPhone: Despite hearing Apple chief executive Tim Cook say that the company was “doubling down” on secrecy, there have been just as many pre-release rumors and reports about this iPhone as there have been about previous versions of the iPhone.

The general rumor mill seems to point to a few key features. The iPhone is expected to have a larger, taller screen — likely measuring 4 inches diagonally — and a slimmer profile. It’s also expected to have a faster chip at its heart, a better camera and the capability to connect to LTE networks in the United States.

There’s also been some speculation that Apple will more drastically redesign the look of the iPhone in some way, such as putting a metal plate with plastic bumpers on the phone’s back.

The iPhone 5?: A minor point, maybe, but chances are this phone will be called the iPhone 5. After Apple threw us a curveball by dropping the numbers from the iPad naming scheme, there was some speculation that it would do the same with the iPhone. But the appearance of a “5” in the foreground of Apple’s invitation has tamped those speculations down.

Smaller dock connector: It’s also expected that the new iPhone and any other new hardware Apple shows off Wednesday will have a smaller dock connector, which will have wider implications for the Apple universe. The company hasn’t changed the dock connector design, well, ever, since the first generation of the iPod, meaning that there are a lot of products out there — chargers, cases, etc. — that have been built with the design in mind. The rumored new connector is said to be much smaller than the current 30-pin connector, with the rumor mill split between a more compact 19-pin design and a very slim 8-pin design.

New iPods: While the iPhone has always had centerstage at Apple’s launch events, Apple executives normally warm up the crowd with a few other major announcements. Before getting to the iPhone 4S last year, Apple announced it had refreshed its iPod line — something it is expected to do again this year.

The blog 9 to 5 Mac reported last week that Apple could be announcing an updated iPod shuffle, a new iPod nano and updates to the iPod Touch. The iPod shuffle, the blog said, shouldn’t see any major changes but could come in a few more colors, while the iPod nano could see some capacity changes.

Release date: Apple likes to stick to certain schedules, and so the scuttlebutt is that — as happened last year — the iPhone will come out two Fridays after it’s announced. That pattern would place the release date, tentatively, on Sept. 21.

Name: 9 to 5 Mac reported that a search of the company’s site shows that Apple has already prepped Web pages for a product called the iPhone 5 that will have LTE.

Related stories:

Apple’s ‘iPhone 5’: Why Apple would want to change the iPhone’s screen size

Apple’s ‘iPhone 5’: Rumor roundup for the new iPhone

New iPhone? Apple issues invites for Sept. 12 event

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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