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Here is the dream iPhone 5S CNET readers want

There's the next iPhone you want, and the one you're actually going to get. We mocked up your dream iPhone, and had industry experts weigh in on whether or not your wishes will actually become reality.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
7 min read
Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Earlier this month we asked you, the esteemed CNET reader, to tell us the features you most wanted in Apple's next iPhone, and you delivered.

Now it's our turn.

With the likely arrival of the iPhone 5S right around the corner, we've compiled the results (see below -- just click to enlarge), and asked a range of technology experts to help explain why some desired features make more sense than others.

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge. CNET
CNET Senior Editor Eric Franklin using the Asus FonePad.
CNET Senior Editor Eric Franklin using the Asus FonePad. Josh Miller/CNET

Go big or go home
The first thing we asked you was what size screen you'd most prefer in the next iPhone. Leading the way was 4.7 inches, which is the same size as the display on the new Moto X, Nokia's Lumia 625, and HTC One (just to name a few).

Individual size options aside, here's the big takeaway: 79 percent of readers who responded want a screen that's larger than the current iPhone 5 screen.

Some bad news for all but the 21 percent of readers who yearned for a 4-inch screen: By nearly every indication, Apple's going to stick with the same 4-inch display for both expected new iPhone models, the 5S and 5C. That's according to NPD DisplaySearch research director Shawn Lee, who expects Apple to go with "almost" the same display technology in its next generation devices. That includes the resolution, size, and use of in-cell touch technology. Lee also said he expects the company to go with the same LED backlighting technology, which -- if changed -- could factor into any kind of major power savings.

Favorite materials
One thing to note here is that there was a typo in the original version of this question. Under the "glass" option, we had said it was the "same as iPhone 5" instead of "iPhone 4/4S." We're inclined to say that skews the results for this one.

Nevertheless, the key takeaway here is that people are big on metal, which came in at 39 percent of the nearly 10,000 votes. Moreover, CNET readers also seem down on plastic, which pulled in just 6 percent of the votes.

Apple chamfering the bezel of the iPhone 5.
Apple chamfering the bezel of the iPhone 5. Apple

While unpopular for a top of the line model, there are plenty of reasons for using plastic once again (Apple did it with the iPhone 3G and 3GS). It's simpler to mass produce, mold, and contour, and can be created in all sorts of colors. There are also some technical benefits. Take the iPhone 5 as an example. Apple had to build windows in the back of the phone for wireless signals to make it through the metal. That won't be an issue with a plastic iPhone.

All together, a jump to plastic on the iPhone 5C is expected to cut the cost of the mechanical parts by around half from the $33 Apple pays on the iPhone 5, to $16 for the 5C, according to recent estimates by Morgan Stanley.

CNET Top 5
Watch this: iPhone 5S most-wanted features

Most important rumored iPhone 5S feature
Better battery life was far and away your most sought after feature, something that shouldn't come as a surprise. Smartphone battery life is improving, but is still a long ways off from what people got used to with feature phones of the past, due in no small part to larger and larger screens that slurp juice.

Apple's iPhone 5 packs a 1,440 mAh battery, which -- according to the company's tests -- breaks down to:

Apple could be primed to take another whack at solving iPhone 4S battery problems. CNET

• 8 hours of talk time on 3G
• 8 hours of Internet use on 3G or LTE
• 10 hours Internet use on Wi-Fi
• 40 hours audio playback
• 10 hours video playback
• 225 hours of standby

That's about what we got with the iPhone 5's predecessor, the 4S. In CNET's own testing, we managed to get nearly 9 hours of video playback, and anywhere from 7.37 hours to 8.48 hours of talk time, depending on the carrier (for more see CNET's entire testing.)

So the big question, of course, is how Apple could extend it. The easiest way would be to put a larger capacity battery in there, something Apple did with the iPhone 5, but not by much. The previous battery unit was 1,432 mAh, up just slightly from the 1,420 mAh battery in the iPhone 4. But to get a real jump, Apple would need to go bigger.

What you want in the next iPhone (pictures)

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Several other companies have gone that route -- notably Android device makers. Motorola, in particular, makes for an interesting example of how the problem can be attacked from multiple angles: both in battery capacity, and hardware designed to cut down energy-slurping tasks. The company (owned by Google), has madea "Maxx" version of its Droid smartphone with a 3,500 mAh non-removable battery that promises 48 hours of life, at the expense of a larger physical size. Motorola''s latest phone, the Moto X, gets about half that (according to Google), but has found neat ways to trim power in other areas. That includes using a special low-power processing core that's set up to constantly listen for words to trigger the company's "OK Google Now" to begin voice search and actions, as well as another such core that tracks various hardware sensors.

Apple's Control Center
Apple's Control Center Apple

Best iOS 7 features
Function is, apparently, more important than form to CNET readers, who narrowly picked Apple's new Control Center feature as more compelling of an improvement than Apple's top to bottom redesign.

In case you missed it, Control Center is the feature that lets users swipe up from the bottom of their phone or tablet's screen to slide out a set of controls for common settings, like screen brightness, volume, and Wi-Fi, along with shortcuts to some basic system apps. Google introduced a very similar feature as part of Android 4.2 last November, though offered a standalone widget to quickly toggle things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, screen brightness, and GPS, as far back as early 2010. Apple's playing catch up here, but it's better late than never.

On the other end of the spectrum, CNET readers simply can't be bothered with dynamic wallpapers, some eye candy that Apple hasn't really shown off, or elaborated on. The feature, which creates screensaver-like backgrounds on the home screen, could also be found on Android phones dating back to early 2010.

Most wanted features that might never happen
Far and away, the most popular choice was NFC, which was long rumored to be headed to an Apple device, and something the company's explored in prototypes and in patent filings.

NFC, which can be found in many Android devices, has been used for all sorts of things -- from security, to payments and wireless data transfers. Some were expecting it to be in the iPhone 5, but it was a no-show.

iPhone 4 buyers on launch day in 2010.
iPhone 4 buyers on launch day in 2010. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Apple's brushed off any ideas NFC might come in any future hardware. In an interview with AllThingsD last year, Apple senior VP Phil Schiller said that the company's Passbook software covered much of the same ground as the things done with NFC. More recently, the company announced AirDrop for iOS. That feature, which arrives with iOS 7, will let users transfer files from device to device over Wi-Fi, similar to how Apple's implemented it on Macs.

Analyst firm Gartner in June said that NFC adoption had been "disappointing" in all markets last year, but that things are still on track to increase into 2016, when approximately 5 percent of all payments will be made using the technology. That estimate came with Gartner lowering its overall forecast for NFC payments by more than 40 percent of its original estimates, based on "struggling" performance of existing NFC payment services like Google Wallet and Isis.

Other popular choices by CNET commenters: Beats Audio, removable batteries, third-party software keyboard. SD card slot, waterproofing, wireless charging.

Flash storage in Apple's MacBook Pro with Retina Display.
Flash storage in Apple's MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Apple

Storage capacity
How much does it cost Apple for each extra tier of storage? Not even close to what it's charging. Where Apple charges about $100 to double up on the storage from 16GB to 32GB, and from 32GB to 64GB, it's estimated to cost the company only $10 to $20 respectively to make that jump, according to a bill of materials estimate from IHS iSuppli. That means it costs you $200 to jump from 16GB to 64GB, but Apple's only spent around $30.

The world of NAND flash memory is changing briskly too. Thebig new thing is 3D NAND memory, which will boast faster performance, better reliability, longer lifetimes and promises to cost much less. Perhaps just as important, the technology also lets manufacturers stack together the memory to fit more into smaller spaces -- something that could dramatically change how much built-in storage we get in smartphones.

How soon is it coming? Samsung, which is Apple's rival but also a key supplier, is already making its 3D NAND, which stacks the memory chips vertically, and the company's got a 128GB size it's putting in a single chip. Micron, another memory maker, recently told CNET it plans to start sampling its own 3D technology to companies in the first quarter of 2014.

While all this sounds good, 3D might not be cheap, says Hans Mosesmann, the managing director of Raymond James.

"The problem with 3D NAND is that it is not clear if it can be manufactured cost effectively," Mosesmann said. "Samsung has started early production of 3D NAND, but I would put it out a couple of years before it hits its stride and would be just a continuation of NAND scaling."

Time to wake up
While you look forward to a dreamed up iPhone, the real deal is just around the corner. Apple's expected to take the wraps off its next model on September 10, an event that will almost certainly bring both an iPhone 5S and a less-expensive, plastic model (for more on both, see CNET's iPhone rumor roundup)

CNET will keep you in the loop on all the happenings for both of those devices. Stay tuned.

Updated at 11:40 a.m. PT to correct chart information.