Love it or hate it, there's no denying Apple manages to remain ahead of the curve when it launches its new smartphone each year.
The iPhone 4, for all its "Antennagate" woes, delivered a higher resolution screen than any other phone in the market at the time, introduced a backside-illuminated image sensor to its camera and managed to be the thinnest phone in town at 9.2mm.
However, 2011 promises to be a different year for smartphone shoppers. This year the line between phone and computer will blur even more so than before, with computer-like processing power reaching the small screen and connectivity options that have you wondering if you even need to buy an ultraportable notebook as well as a phone.
To stay "amazing", "revolutionary" and "magical", Apple will need to make sure it at least keeps pace with the manufacturers of other popular handsets. The following is our top five features Apple needs to include in iPhone 5 to "change everything, again".
As with any computer, powerful processing is always behind the best machines. Apple simply can't afford to avoid employing a dual-core processor like. It's highly likely Apple will want to build its own chipset, but it will need to at least match the power and capabilities of the CPUs in the top-end Android smartphones this year, especially if Apple hopes to maintain its growing popularity with business users.
A dual-core system could also have the added bonus of increasing battery life; one area of the iPhone that Apple has been most eager to talk about since its inception. Dual-core processors like the Tegra 2 can run more efficiently than single-core systems, especially when dealing with a low workload.
Adding an HDMI-out port to the iPhone's sleek design seems unlikely to us, but it is one of the key areas of interest for all other phone manufacturers this year. If Apple can't find space on the phone for a port, or create an adapter for the proprietary charging slot, the iPhone will be one of the only top-end smartphones that won't be able to connect to a monitor or TV.
The iPhone already includes AirPlay wireless media sharing, but HDMI connectivity goes beyond merely sharing media. Connecting your phone to a monitor will allow you to experience all facets of your phone on a much larger display, including web browsing, document creation and gaming. This is one of our must-have features for the year.
If Apple does consider big-screen connectivity, it'd be wise to also think of the possibilities of creating a separate desktop computing-like user experience. Like the, this system could really make your smartphone the centre of your digital life. With enough power, the iPhone could power most of your daily web browsing, email for work and personal use, and entertainment, regardless of whether you're on the bus, in your living room or at your desk in the office.
This is one element we're almost certain Apple won't change this year, but while buying a mobile phone is increasingly a numbers game, the iPhone's 3.5-inch display is starting to looking a little small compared with the 4-inch-plus-sized screens we're seeing from Samsung and HTC. There are also rumours that Apple intends to again increase the resolution of its iPhone display, a move that would only make sense on a larger screen where the human eye will actually be able to appreciate the increase in pixel density.
If the precedent set by previous iPhone releases remains, we can expect to see the same dual-glass chassis on the next iPhone, and it needs to be stronger. Whether Apple buys its glass this year from Gorilla Glass manufacturer Cornings, or whether it finds an alternative remains to be seen, but it definitely needs something to convince us that the iPhone will be much sturdier than it has been until now.
Which features do you want to see in the next-generation iPhone? Let us know in the comments below.