With so many supposed leaks and rumors flying around every day for the last few months, it can be dizzying to keep track of, let alone know for sure which features the device will include. A complete, accurate picture of the iPhone 5 hasn't yet emerged, but a few details are nearly certain to be true. Others are less certain, but can't be ruled out.
A Faster Processor and Better Antenna
The iPhone 5 is widely expected to have a faster processor on the inside. Rumors and purported photo leaks point to the same A5 processor that powers the iPad 2. Either way, an increase in computing power is to be expected with a significant hardware upgrade such as this.
After all the commotion over the iPhone 4's flawed antenna design, which eventually resulted in the company issuing free "bumper" cases to customers, we can reasonably expect the next iPhone to have an improved approach to its antenna design.
New Hardware Design: Thinner and Sleeker
Unlike the iPhone 4, the new iPhone's physical appearance has not been leaked to the public. That's because even though an iPhone 5 got lost in a San Francisco bar (like its predecessor), the missing handset was never found and sold to a tech blog. While we don't know exactly what the new device will look like, a few hints have emerged, based largely on the design of protective cases.
Despite earlier reports that the iPhone 5 would resemble the iPhone 4, new information points to a different visual appearance. It will most likely be thinner than its predecessor, and may have a wider screen. From the looks of some of the protective cases purportedly manufactured for the device, it looks sleeker than the iPhone 4, with rounded edges more akin to the iPhone 3G and 3GS.
All the Features of iOS 5
The next version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 5, was first unvieled by the company in June. It's in the final stages of beta development now and should be available to all iOS device users by the time the new iPhone reaches shelves. As far as iOS updates go, this one's a biggie. It will include wireless syncing of calendars, contacts and content across devices, an overhauled notification system, deep Twitter integration, an SMS-style messaging protocol and a number of other features.
A Better Camera, Probably With 8 Megapixels
Another feature that would be shocking for Apple to leave out would be an upgraded camera. Most of the rumors circulating around the Web suggest it will be an 8-megapixel camera. Sony CEO Howard Stringer (accidentally) confirmed in April that the company is selling camera sensors to Apple for the iPhone, and additional evidence points to those sensors packing 8 megapixels.
An upgraded camera wouldn't come as much of a surprise, since its such a commonly-used feature. The iPhone 4 is now the most popular camera across all of Flickr and of course mobile photo-sharing apps like Instagram have exploded since the last iPhone was released. One of the new features in iOS 5 will be the ability to snap photos using a physical button on the phone, which serves as further evidence that Apple is paying attention to the camera feature on its mobile devices.
The Maybes: iPhone 4S, an NFC Chip and More
In addition to the iPhone 5, Apple is expected by many to launch the so-called iPhone 4S, an entry-level smartphone intended as the next iPhone 3GS. The device would be a sort of 'iPhone lite' intended to be sold at a lower price point than the iPhone 4 and 5.
One feature that's often speculated about is the inclusion of an NFC chip for things like mobile payments and wireless data transfer. Early reports suggested the iPhone 5 would not include NFC, but a recent story in the New York Times points to the device's use of a chip from Qualcomm that supports the technology. There is not yet overwhelming consumer demand for NFC, but many of Apple's competitors in the smartphone space, most notably RIM and Google's Android, have already made the technology available in new handsets.
There's no doubt that Apple's presentation will reveal many more details pertaining to the iPhone, if not also other product lines like the iPod Touch and iPod Nano. It remains to be seen what those details will be, but the rumor mill will inevitably churn on for the next two weeks.
What else do you think the iPhone 5 will bring? Are there any features you're dying to see in the device? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.