The iPhone 4S has quieted the hungry masses for a time, but it won't be long before the cry of JE-SUS-PHONE! JE-SUS-PHONE! is taken up again. In a way, we're glad that the iPhone 5 didn't make it into the lineup this year, partially because too much fun is really not healthy for you - think about eating all that Fun Dip and then running around when you were five - but partially because we're glad they're taking they're time, since the next round of upgrades is going to be pretty epic.

At least, we hope it is.

The truth is that going from the iPhone 4S to a true next-generation device is going to involve some serious finagling on the part of Apple's engineers. This is because we're not just looking at better call signal or faster browsing anymore. Of the features we're hoping the next phone will include, some of the most often mentioned are:

  • 4G
  • A bigger display
  • Better Siri
  • New design
  • A Google Wallet-style NFC payment ability
  • Faster processor
  • Longer battery life

The thing about these features is that a lot of them are at odds. Currently, like it or not, the iPhone is widely regarded as one of the pinnacles of mobile phone aesthetic design. At a mere 4.9 ounces (140 grams) and .37 inches, or 9.3 mm, thick, the iPhone 4S is one of the lightest, slimmest phones on the market, with one of the best retinal displays and highest quality external design. The problem for Apple, going forward, will be how to maintain the portion of its user base that demands that design aesthetic while also incorporating bulky hardware such as LTE antennae for faster browsing, a more powerful processor for a larger display and improved Siri experience, an NFC chip, and longer battery life.

So far, Apple has been able to hold on to its lead by making sacrifices such as 4G capability because those advancements were still relatively novel, even among its competitors who were underscoring those features for the benefit of dissuaded would-be iPhone customers. But the grace period is swiftly closing and Apple is going to need to roll out something truly spectacular in 2012.

In a way, it seems almost unfair that we demand so much of Apple - after all, when you look at the expectations for the iPhone 5, we're not just asking for a phone with new features. We're asking for a lifestyle device that will change the way we live. Again.

While excitement around the iPad 3 will reach its usual fever pitch, Apple's real flagship is the iPhone. Not because of its portability or its apps, but because our phones have become extensions of us - extremities with which we can live without for a short period of time, but would rather not have to. We look to these devices to be our voices, our senses of direction, our knowledge database; If they can't keep growing, we privately wonder, keep improving, almost beyond our wildest expectations, then what hope do we have to do the same?

Do you agree? Or are we expecting too much from the Cupertino company? Tell us in the comments below.

MUST READ: Galaxy Note vs HTC Titan: Which Should You Buy?

MUST READ: Old Smartphones: What to Do With Them