Apple is slated to announce its next flagship smartphone -- the iPhone 5 -- on Tuesday, capping months of speculation and anticipation with a roll-out that's expected to define the industry.
But while the company has been tight-lipped as usual, one doesn't need to look too far to understand what is going to be inside the next iPhone.
It's the software, the iOS, that already lays out a clear roadmap of what to expect.
So while it's no mystery, we can always hope. This list below has extremely low probabilities of seeing the light of day, in the iPhone 5, or any other Apple product.
You can find out for sure at 10 a.m. PST or 1 p.m. EST, at IBTimes' live blog, here.
It's a safe bet that most of the items on this list will not be in the iPhone 5, but 4G data access has a small chance.
Many of the iPhone's main competitors have feature the new faster data standard, including Motorola's Droid Bionic, the HTC ThunderBolt, and upcoming HTC Vigor, LG Electronics's (LGLGDE) Revolution 2, not to mention the venerable 4G Galaxy S2 from Samsung.
But analysts have said for months that Apple examined the technology, but it still does not fit its requirements for battery consumption and thinness needed.
Analyst Mark Moskowitz with JP Morgan said last week that the next iPhone 5 will be a world phone with both GSM and CDMA cellular support, but no support for 4G, and a lighter, thinner form factor.
That said, Apple could roll out another device in 2012 that would have 4G.
When the first iPhone came out in 2007, many enthusiasts balked at the lack of a removable battery -- an unthinkable oversight in a world ruled by RIM's Blackberry. Now it's commonplace.
Removable Battery Now it's commonplace.
Since then, Apple rolled out the similar technique in its Macbook Air laptops, and subsequent iPhones, with the feature allowing for thinner designs and supposedly higher capacities.
Summarily: don't look for it in the next iPhone 5. The battery has most likely benefited from better manufacturing to hold even more capacity, and the iPhone 5's supposed thinner frame will benefit from having non-removable parts -- reinforcing Apple's philosophy that emerged in 2007.
This will most definitely not make it into Apple's next smartphone, for a similar reason as the removable battery. Apple defined its own philosophy on not only design, but also on how content is managed.
Apple products are part of a closed system in which users move content through Apple's pre-defined channels -- iTunes, and now the iCloud. A removable memory device will suddenly make this unpredictable -- and unacceptable.
Apple also benefits from having several models of the same iPhone out with varying capacities available. There is a standard one for the masses, and another with higher capacities to satisfy the demands of enthusiasts (and also pad Apple's margins).
This strategy has worked for the last four years, and there's no reason to depart from it now.
The weakest link any iPhone box is the headphones -- without a doubt. They are standard headphones for the masses that neglect sound quality, don't fit properly, and are prone to easy breakage.
But because of this, a whole sub-market of headphones has arisen to take its place, some making products specifically targeted toward iPhone users. Heavyweights like Sony have capitalized on this, while the Apple accessory market has virtually made companies like Scosche.
This isn't likely to change. For most people the stock buds are fine, and for people who care about sound quality, nothing packaged in the box will do.
In fact, Apple has packaged fewer accessories, raising the margins, in subsequent models. Old-timers may remember the first iPhone came with a desktop docking in the box. Now it needs to be purchased separately.
An avant-garde device like Apple's next flagship smartphone will aim to be the best-looking device in existence. These days, that means thinner and sleeker, and more advanced technology allows for that: memory gets more condensed, processors get smaller, and batteries hold more energy.
But one thing that won't lend to miniaturization, however, are speakers. Speakers, simply put, move air and create sound. The bigger they are, the more effective it will be at doing this -- there's no way to get around it.
The speakerphone on the iPhone 4 is one of the weakest, worst performers of any self-respecting smartphone. Given Apple's focus on design, its likely the functionality of the speaker will be sacrificed in the iPhone 5.
The integrated iPod allows you to load up the device with music and podcasts that you can playback anywhere. It's great for listening to preselected media, and with storage becoming cheaper, you can expect to carry even more around with you.
The only issue is listening the same library, no matter how large, can get boring. There are apps like Pandora and Spotify that simulate radio with various data streams, but constantly streaming data takes a toll on your battery. Plus, for travelers, the radio is a quick and easy way to familiarize yourself with your surroundings.
Though the technology is simple, this will never happen however. Access to uncontrolled content is unconscionable in Apple's walled-garden.
In Apple's world, if you need more content, it should come through iTunes, or the forthcoming iCloud, where Apple can ostensibly control the quality, but also get a cut of the sale. Chances are quite slim that Apple will change this.
This has been a pipedream for iPhone users since the original iPhone 2G hit the scene in 2007. It was excusable at first. The iPhone itself was a groundbreaking product that for once gave a semblance of what the real Web could offer to mobile users.
But as the device got more powerful and hardware became less of an issue, Apple stepped up its rhetoric against Adobe Flash, calling it an unreliable power-hog, prone to crashing and messy with resources.
Some competitors, like Samsung, have gotten Flash to work just fine, so the issue isn't necessarily technical. It's philosophical, and that's why we'll never see it.
Sites like Hulu, which streams TV shows and movies in Flash, and YouTube, where you could find any music video would make buying iTunes content unnecessary.
Enterprise Grade E-mail
Apple's philosophy is to have things be as easy as possible, but there is a difference between easy and simple. The e-mail system in the iPhone is arguably the worst of any smartphone, in fact because it is too simple -- or dumbed-down.
There is no way to delete a lot of mail except one-by-one. Suppose even, you want to send an e-mail marked as 'priority' -- this isn't currently possible. Need to download a lot of e-mail? The iOS in its current form chokes.
With the slide in market share and even talks of imminent death, there are not many things to learn from RIM -- but it's Blackberry still is the gold standard. For business users, this is simply irreplaceable. Users get almost as much functionality as a fully-fledged desktop application.
This is going to get some backlash.
The keyboard isn't bad for what it is. It gets the job done, but it certainly isn't perfect. If you've ever tried to send a serious e-mail or a long text, you'll see a lot of typos coming out.
This is a place where Apple can actually learn from the ill-fated Blackberry Storm series of phones from RIM.
In vertical mode, RIM deployed an ingenious reduced-set keyboard that was only 5 keys across and 4 keys tall. This, mixed with smart software, made typing a breeze, even with one hand. This is a throwback from RIM's Peal smart phones that featured the same keyboard but in physical form. It made for a brilliant virtual one too.
This would be a radical departure, so its uncertain whether Apple would adopt it, but Apple should at least give developers the choice of making new keyboard innovations. Apple's closed system does not allow for changes in system-level functions like a keyboard.