The iPhone 5 has only been available for two months, but Apple's latest smartphone may become obsolete sooner than we think, possibly in record time. A report from China's Commercial Times on Monday said Apple will begin "trial production of a new version of its iPhone 5, or iPhone 5S, in December with initial production volumes likely to top 50,000 - 100,000 units.
"Facing low yield rates in the production of iPhone 5, Apple has accelerated the certification processes for related parts and components for the iPhone 5S," The Commercial Times wrote.
From 2007 to 2010, Apple launched a new iPhone every summer, around June. This annual launch schedule was thrown into disarray back in 2011, when reported difficulties of trying to implement LTE into the iPhone 4S ultimately failed, which resulted in pushing back the iPhone 4S release date to October. This year, Apple chose to release its new iPhone, the iPhone 5, a bit earlier in the fall, around mid-September; consequently, many expect Apple to launch a new iPhone around the same time next year, or possibly a bit earlier, in August.
According to The Commercial Times, however, the Chinese news company claims the iPhone 5S could start being mass produced around the first quarter of 2013 and launch much earlier than anticipated, possibly in early to mid-summer 2013, which could put Apple back on its annual release schedule.
However, it's important to note that The Commercial Times has not always been the most accurate news source in the past, especially with Apple-related business, so it's possible that this "pre-production acceleration" of iPhone "5S" parts is merely speculation, since Apple is always busy on its next project and getting the components ready seems like a very logical step, regardless of what Apple had planned for its next 4-inch iPhone. Save for the microprocessors and cellular chips, most of the "prep" work in this regard can be performed ahead of time.
We have heard very little about Apple's seventh-generation iPhone, but if production ramps up in the coming weeks and months as The Commercial Times claims it will, we will undoubtedly be hearing more about the hardware going into this product. We don't know if Apple plans any structural changes to the iPhone's form factor, but we can assume the company will update the phone with new, speedier processors and innards. But for now, all we have to work with are rumors and recent patent filings.
Speaking of patent filings, one of the few new, exciting technologies we've heard Apple may pursue in its next-gen smartphone is advanced haptics and sensors, possibly built directly into a flexible display. A newly released patent filed in March but published in September described tactile keyboards, flexible displays and laser microphones and speakers built into an iPhone, designed to conform to the user's needs. Flexible displays would allow for easier holding and typing, while the highly advanced tactile screens would create buttons when needed so the user can feel "keyboard" letters as they type, or touch the topography on Apple's Maps. It's wishful thinking that Apple would include all these technologies in the next iPhone rather implement them over time, but it's certainly fun to think about.
Apple sold 26.9 million iPhone units in Q4 2012.