Is Apple's iPhone 5 worth the wait?

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Apple's tight-lipped approach towards its iPhone 5 release has fueled a barrage of rumors related to the potential release date and specs that will define the next step in the iPhone's evolution.

Chris Whitmore of Deutsche Bank Equity suggests that Apple will launch two phones in September, an iPhone 5 -- the real thing and an iPhone 4S -- a cheaper iPhone. Analyst Keith Bachman of BMO Capital Markets, however, states that Apple will launch the 4S in September while the iPhone 5 with a revolutionary design will come in mid-2012.

As the cacophony builds surrounding the iPhone 5 release date, it's worth asking whether one should buy an Android superphone or wait for the elusive iPhone 5. Most of the rumored features that will find their way into an iPhone 5 are already available in a gamut of Android devices. Here is a list of iPhone 5's rumored features and existing Android phones which possess these fabled specifications: 

Curved Glass-display:

Since DigiTimes reported in May that Apple had placed an order for glass cutting machines which are capable of making curved glass covers, rumors of a curved glass display coming to iPhone 5 have been swirling. However, there are existing Android phones to choose from HTC Sensation, LG T-Mobile G2x, Google Nexus S and Samsung Galaxy Prevail which sport curved glass displays.

8MP camera with dual-LED display:

It is also rumored that Apple will fix the iPhone 5 with an 8MP camera as reports have surfaced that Apple has placed an order for 90 percent of its 8MP camera sensors with OmniVision. Nonetheless, there are many Android phones like Samsung Galaxy S2, Motorola Photon, HTC Sensation, Motorola Droid Bionic, Droid X2, HTC Thunderbolt, HTC Holiday, HTC Droid Incredible 2, Samsung Droid Charge and Samsung Infuse 4G.

Another key addition to the group is the upcoming T-Mobile myTouch 4G Slide. The HTC-manufactured phone features an 8MP camera with dual-LED flash. It is rumored that iPhone 5 will also feature a dual-LED flash as it is reported that Apple has reduced the order for LED flash units - which it fixes in iPhone 4 - from Philips. DigiTimes reported that Taiwan-based firms Everlight Electronics, Edison Opto and Lite-On Technology could be potential suppliers of dual-LED flash for Apple. While the media is musing over this feature, HTC's myTouch 4G Slide is here with a dual-LED flash. myTouch 4G Slide camera offers improved low-light performance and Clear-Shot HDR feature which allows capturing objects in bright light.

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A5 dual-core processor:

It is rumored that Apple will grace its iPhone 5 with the dual-core 1GHz chipset which powers its iPad 2. Apple is pretty late in the dual-core chip race. Samsung's Galaxy S2, HTC Sensation, myTouch 4G Slide, HTC Holiday and Samsung Infuse 4G sport 1.2GHz dual-core processors while other superphones like Motorola Photon, Atrix, Bionic, X2 and HTC's Thunderbolt are powered by the dual-core 1GHz chipsets.

Worldphone Design:

It is rumored that the iPhone 5 will feature a new SIM-less design with 2 to 3 internal antennas for CDMA and GSM compatibility which will make it a worldphone. However, Motorola is already there with its Motorola Photon which offers both global 4G connectivity and 3G support. It can thus be used on both CDMA and WiMAX in US and GSM internationally. Also it is reported that Motorola will launch an unlocked model in its Atrix smartphone in Europe.

4G LTE iPhone:

It was also rumored that Apple will launch a 4G LTE iPhone but was trashed by Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter Misek who said that Apple will not release a 4G LTE iPhone this fall citing Qualcomm's inability to meet Apple's LTE chipset demand. However, if Apple decides to launch an iPhone 5 for 4G LTE, it will find rivals in HTC Thunderbolt, Samsung Droid Charge and the upcoming Motorola Droid Bionic on Verizon blazing fast 4G TE network.

Voice Recognition:

Report of Apple being in negotiations with Nuance Technologies has resulted in rumors that iPhone 5 will feature voice recognition capability. Currently, Android phones like Nexus S and myTouch 4G Slide feature voice recognition capabilities. The recently announced myTouch 4G offers Genius Button which takes one shot voice commands, powered by Dragon Dictation from Nuance.

Glasses-free 3D:

Another rumor states that iPhone 5 will feature glasses-free 3D viewing capacity, courtesy a patent which was issued to Apple in 2010 under the title Three-dimensional display system, which makes glasses-free 3D viewing possible. However, HTC is already in this domain with its Android device HTC EVO 3D which comes with a 5MP 3D camera. Its stereoscopic camera captures videos at 1080p (2D) and 720p (3D). LG also has a 3D offering in LG Optimus 3D which offers glasses-free 3D viewing.

Other reports suggest that iPhone 5 will flaunt a larger 3.7-inch screen. Most of the current breed of Android phones likes Motorola Photon, Samsung Galaxy S 2 and HTC Sensation sport a 4.3-inch display. All these specs reveal that much of the rumors are using Android phone specifications as benchmark to derive hardware upgrades which will come the iPhone way.

The only certainty with iPhone 5 is that it will run on iOS 5 which is due to be released in fall. However, a recent report suggests that Google's next version of Android, the Ice Cream Sandwich is slated for release during Thanksgiving, which will further intensify the competition between the two. Recently, Google Android chief Andy Rubin tweeted that over 500,000 Android devices are activated every day. Apple's delay seems to be Android's gain.

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