iPhone 5 Rumor Rundown for the Week

Could it be that iPhone Rumor Exhaustion (iRE) has struck? Almost on the eve of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, where we know Apple will unveil iOS 5, new rumors of iPhone 5 have become thin and stale.

Here's the iPhone 5 Rumor Rollup for the week ending June 3.

Look! Up in the sky! It's LTE! It's 4G! It's 3.75G!

Tiernan Ray, who writes Barron's Tech Trader Daily blog, put forth what seems a rather convoluted theory by a stock analyst, who argues that iPhone 5 will be a 4G phone, not LTE, but will only be available initially on the AT&T network.

"For AT&T iPhone 5 users, this could mean download speeds of 5 to 10 Mbps, compared to less than 1 Mbps for a Verizon user," Ray quotes from a report by Hudson Square Research's Todd Rethemeier.

It could. Maybe some of the newly minted Verizon iPhone users will switch (or switch back!) to AT&T.

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Of course, it all depends on how one defines "4G" since what AT&T actually offers is HSPA+, which is a stop along the way to the Nirvana of LTE. Verizon and now AT&T are racing to switch on LTE base stations, but that all takes time. Even when affordable LTE radios get built into handsets, a lot of users for a lot of years actually may end up more often than not relying on "backward-compatible" 3G connections. Or 3.5G. Or 3.75G. Or 3.875G. Whatever.

Ray's repeating of Rethemeier's rumor is relaunching another rumor: Apple will wait until late 2012 to introduce LTE ... on the iPhone 6!

Not 1, not 2, but 3 new iPhones!

A number of websites are regurgitating the idea that Apple is going to introduce the iPhone 4S later in 2011 (a "modest upgrade," according to one report), the radically redesigned iPhone 5 in mid-2012, and at some point in between a new "low-cost" iPhone to address "emerging markets, prepaid plans and midmarket customers," according to ZDNet editor-in-chief Larry Dignan.

He's basing that on an analysis by another stock analyst, in this case, Peter Misek at Jeffries. Dignan apparently thinks the low-cost iPhone will be a repriced iPhone 3GS, similar to AT&T's move when it introduced a $50 3GS model just as Verizon Wireless finally released a CDMA version of iPhone 4 this past spring.

But Joan Lee, at The Pop Herald, is interpreting Dignan's post as describing a new, distinct and distinctively "cheap" iPhone model, for under $300. "Cheap" and "Apple" still sounds like a contradiction in terms.

Citing a story from Macotakara -- a story based on a single "anonymous source" -- Digital Trends buys into the two-iPhone scenario. The 4S will be released in July or August, disappointing all those who hoped it would be released in June, and the iPhone 5 is "still under development" and won't see the light of day until spring 2012.

Without the Lone Anonymous Source, the Well of Rumors would long since have run dry.

Barron's Tiernan Ray picked up another analyst's opinion, this time by Brian Marshall of Gleacher & Co., who says there's just two. Marshall "believes there will, in fact, be an "iPhone 4S" in the second half of the [2011] year, and then an "iPhone 5" in the first half of next year, the latter using so-called Long Term Evolution, or LTE, 4G wireless technology [see previous rumor]."

One implication of these rumors is that rumors about The Date now are even more confusing than they have been in the past. We can say without fear of contradiction that Apple will release a new iPhone model in SummerFallWinterSpring.

iPhone 5 will be a tool of tyranny

"Apple may be integrating more technology behind its camera in the next-generation iPhone," says Christopher Hudson at GizmoCrunch. He says this is more likely for iPhone 6 than for iPhone 5, so technically he's referring to the next next-generation iPhone.

The technology in question is an infrared sensor and transmitter and code that will make the "beloved" iPhone camera more self-aware. This is according to a recently revealed Apple patent, but Hudson doesn't link to it.

"In this way Apple can for example allow the camera to be disabled if the user walks into a cinema or other venues where photography and video recording is forbidden," Hudson writes.

"The possibilities are endless but at the same time it would make Apple feel a lot more like Big Brother, seeing everything you see and capture," Hudson concludes.

That seems like unfounded paranoia, considering the whole world has now seen, without benefit of Apple's patent or an iPhone 5, everything that Congressman Anthony Weiner -- or a Facebook or Twitter hacker, or a prankster, or a right-wing conspirator -- has to offer.

Shock! iPhone 5 will still have Google Search and Maps!

The Appera picks up on a comment by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, speaking at the recent AllThingsD9 conference: "We just renewed our Map and Search agreements with Apple, and we hope those continue for a long time," he said.

Whoa.

"This news/update comes as a shock to those who believed the rumors that Apple is developing their own Maps based on recent company hirings," writes The Appera's James Isabel.

"It wouldn't make sense to get rid of them," he says. But Isabel then suggests that Apple, in defiance of good sense, may be doing just that anyway: "This doesn't mean that Apple has not developed something that will improve or strengthen Search and Maps features that will get along nicely with existing Google features," Isabel concludes.

One last hope ...

Actually, your best bet on seeing the iPhone 5 may be to get hired as a legal assistant to one of Samsung's lawyers, who this week filed a motion in their patent suit against Apple, asking a judge to order Apple to let Samsung see the next iPhone and iPad.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww

Email: john_cox@nww.com

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