7 predictions for the iPhone 5S

Apple's forthcoming iPhone 5S could include a larger, IGZO-based LCD screen, a faster processor, and a better camera

The iPhone 5S is coming! The iPhone 5S is coming! That's exciting news for die-hard iEnthusiasts. However, it's not entirely clear what, exactly, to be excited about, given that Apple's been mum on forthcoming features, as always. Fortunately, there've been enough hints and rumors floating for the InfoWorld staff to craft some plausible predictions on what goodies may find their way into the iPhone 5S.

Prediction No. 1: IGZO screen
Indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) is the latest LCD screen technology, and analysts are saying Apple will be its first major adopter. Earlier this year, Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry predicted that Apple would shift to IGZO for the iPhone, as well as perhaps for the iPad and some MacBooks. That would explain the drop in LCD screen orders out of Cupertino.

Among IGZO's bragging points: It makes for brighter screens that use less power. It's 40 times more responsive than standard LCDs. It's less expensive than the low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS) screen technology Apple currently uses. And it can be manipulated into curved shapes.

Notably, IGZO also works well with pen input, should Apple decide to expand screen sensitivity that way. Don't hold your breath: The company has been cool to styli since 1993's Newton MessagePad. Still, for both creative and retail applications, a stylus (combined with IGZO) would be a welcome addition.

Prediction No. 2: A larger display
iOS 7 appears to support screen-scaling, which in turn hints at future iPhones with multiple screen sizes. The iPhone 5S may thus pack a larger display than its predecessor's 4-incher.

Then again, Apple said last fall that it didn't want multiple screen sizes for fear it would force devs to cope with having multiple versions of UIs for their apps. That's why the iPad Mini has the same pixel count as the iPad 2. But Apple also hinted at the time that if developers didn't have to adapt their apps, it'd be more than happy to consider multiple screen sizes. Will iOS 7 make that auto-adjustment happen?

A larger screen could be nice, but rumors suggest the iPhone 5S will have the same screen and bezel design as the iPhone 5. Odds are, we won't see a larger, fully redesigned iPhone 6 until 2014.

Prediction No. 3: NFC support
Some rumors never die, including the rumor that the iPhone will support NFC technology. On the other hand, the technology has been around for more than two years and has seen only limited adoption in Android and, recently, BlackBerry. Onscreen bar codes seem to be much easier, and Apple is all over that technology with its Passbook service, as are apps like Square.

NFC makes sense for using a phone as a passkey for buildings, and some security systems now support NFC-enabled Android devices for that purpose. But that doesn't sound like an Apple market. Besides, the iPhone and the rest of Apple's product line have supported Bluetooth 4 for several years now, and that tech is well established in all manner of devices -- even in door locks and cars, where Apple's iOS in the Car technology is sure to use it. Also, iOS 7's use of Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi for ad-hoc file sharing (aka AirDrop) suggests Bluetooth's further entrenchment as Apple's universal short-range radio exchange technology.

Prediction No. 4: Game on
iOS 7 includes game-controller support, and iOS 7 game controllers are in the works (or have already materialized). It's plausible that the iPhone 5S will integrate with game controllers -- or could function as one itself. That controller support may be an iPod Touch feature, though, given that the iPhone-like device is Apple's main gaming platform.

Prediction No. 5: Camera improvements
The iPhone 5S will likely come equipped with a better camera than the iPhone 5's. It certainly stands to benefit from an upgrade. What improvements we'll see remains to be determined, but they could include a higher megapixel rating (currently 8), dual LEDs, and a slow-motion capability, as rumored on 9to5Mac.

Prediction No. 6: Faster processor
The iPhone 5 packs a 1.3GHz, dual-core A6 processor. The iPhone 5S could come loaded with the iPad 4's dual-core 1.4GHz A6X -- maybe even the new quad-core A7.

Prediction No. 7: Storage-capacity reset
We could see a storage-capacity reset in the iPhone 5S, from 16GB/32GB/64GB to 32GB/64GB/128GB. All those music, video, and photo files take up space, after all. However Apple's iCloud push for on-demand cloud delivery may negate a move to higher-capacity on-device storage. In fact, Apple may want those space restrictions in the hardware to encourage more iCloud usage.

How long we'll have to wait to determine the accuracy of these predictions remains to be seen, but if history is any guide, we can expect the new iPhone to be unveiled in September or October. It will certainly happen before the holiday shopping season kicks in to high gear.

This article, "7 predictions for the iPhone 5S," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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