[This is an April Fool's story. It is fiction, not fact even though it contains facts. --Ed.]
Five Chinese suppliers of chips, cases, radios, and Apple's special screws have revealed what Apple has in store for the iPhone this year: In a major break from Apple's one-device-per-year approach, the company that invented the modern smartphone will ship three new iPhone models this summer. All three are to be announced at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) -- until recently the traditional iPhone announcement venue -- in June.
Except for an enhanced version of Siri that works even when offline, there's no word on whether iOS 7 will debut at the same time, but that's likely as a new iOS version has been released each year in concert with the new iPhones.
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The three new reported iPhone models will bring Apple's "three sizes" strategy to the iPhone. In that approach, Apple offers three variants of its products, roughly equivalent to the small, medium, and large sizes for clothing. For example, in the MacBook line, there is the "small" Air, "medium" MacBook Pro, and "large" MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Meanwhile, the iPod line has the "small" iPod Shuffle, "medium" iPod Nano, and "large" iPod Classic. You can even argue that the iPad line follows the same pattern with the "small" iPod Touch, "medium" iPad Mini, and "large" iPad.
In the case of the iPhone, the sources say we'll see the following:
- iPhone 5S: The "medium" device in the mix, it's a faster, slightly thinner version of the current iPhone 5 with longer battery life, improved front-facing camera, and -- new to the iPhone line -- a pico projector for displaying the screen on walls and other surfaces when an Apple TV is not available. The 5S will be sold in the same five hues as the fifth-generation iPod Touch, as well as in the original black and white.
- iPhone 5N: The "small" device in the mix, it's essentially an iPhone 4 in terms of processing capability and camera quality, but in an aluminum body. Its 3.7-inch screen has the same number of pixels as the iPhone 5 but at 85 percent the size -- the same sizing strategy used for the iPad Mini -- so developers don't have to rewrite their apps to run on it. The 5N is meant to be cheaper to produce and easier to tuck into a pocket, to help Apple make further inroads to developing countries such as China and India.
- iPhone Air: Counterintuitively, this is the "large" device in the mix. It's an ultrathin, ultralight smartphone -- half the thickness and weight of the current iPhone 5 -- but with a bigger (4.4-inch) screen that extends all the way to the edge. It also features a new piezoelectric, touch-based Home button rather than a physical one, plus a 28-megapixel, UltraHD rear camera. The device's internal volume is a bit less than that of the 5S, so it has less battery capacity, but to overcome that, Apple is introducing regenerative charging that uses the motion of being jiggled in a pocket or purse, similar to how a Toyota Prius uses braking energy to recharge its battery.
All three devices feature the 16:9 aspect-ratio screen introduced in the iPhone 5, making them suited for HD video playback when in landscape mode. In addition, all three use their IR proximity sensor to support basic gestures over the screen, so you can navigate among messages or pause playback without actually touching the screen -- similar to what Samsung introduced in the Galaxy S 4.
Pricing and exact availability are unknown. Apple declined to comment on the reports.
This story, "Breaking: Apple to unveil new iPhone 5S, 5N, and Air at WWDC," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in April Fools' Day at InfoWorld.com. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.