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Apple’s new ‘iPhone 5’: A wishlist for today’s announcement

Apple is expected to reveal its next iPhone this afternoon, to much fanfare and a whole lot of anticipation. The company has already taken its store offline, and 9 to 5 Mac reported that a search of the Apple Web site shows prepped pages for a product called the iPhone 5 that will have LTE.

The LTE addition is a well-trodden rumor, but that capability is likely at or near the top of most Apple fans’ wishlists for the new device, one area in which Apple noticeably lags behind competitors on the premium smartphone market.

Apple has a history of waiting until technologies are fairly well deployed to adopt them for its products, and LTE networks are more widespread now than they were even a year ago. AT&T has been building out its LTE network as it transitions from HSPA+, and Sprint announced Monday that it would roll out the service in more than 100 additional cities in “the coming months.”

There’s also rumor-fueled and high expectation that the next iPhone will sport a bigger screen. And there are hopes that Apple has given the new version the same high resolution as the previous one. The company had already bumped up its 3.5-inch screen to “retina display,” which is supposed to make pixels indistinguishable to the human eye. It would only make sense to do the same with a bigger phone screen.

Reports that Apple will offer a new design for its earbuds have excited those who have been annoyed with the standard design for years. Reports indicate that new earbuds would be designed to focus sound more directly down the ear — meaning that they could be more comfortable and offer better sound quality than the set that now comes with iPhones and iPods, which are also expected to get a refresh today.

It’s worth noting, though, that the leaked pictures of the earbuds didn’t show a microphone unit, which Apple would be unlikely to leave out of any iPhone accessory, especially given Siri’s voice control on the iPhone 4S.

Devotees of the iPhone would also like to see improvement in the design of the device’s well-known lines and curves. This isn’t just for cosmetic reasons. The iPhone’s glass case is notoriously fragile, so speculation that Apple would revert to a metal backing for the smartphone was well-received.

Siri fans are also probably crossing their fingers for some much-needed polish to the flagship feature of the previous iPhone. Siri could probably generate a wishlist of her own: the ability to control phone functions such as volume; the iOS 6 promise of app-launching capability; improved voice control so that you don’t get the “I’m sorry, [iPhone user], I didn’t understand that” message so often; and, perhaps, a little Siri action on Apple’s more advanced iPods. Apple is facing some stiffer competition on the voice-control front, so it’s to its advantage to beef up its signature personal assistant feature.

And what about Apple’s famous “one more thing” announcement?

There are a few candidates for the final blast-off -- none more prominent than the release of a mini iPad, in addition to its iPhone. But Apple bloggers, including John Gruber, have put this fevered speculation on ice by pointing out that it’s unlikely — though not impossible — that Apple would want to steal the spotlight from its flagship product.

Related stories:

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

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

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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