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Forget the Gold iPhone - What Else Can Apple Offer?

A gold iPhone, a huge iPad and 3D gesture controls? Apple rumors are swirling in advance of new product announcements coming on September10th, so let’s look at the sure things, the maybes, and the “no way” ideas.

Sure Things: IPhone5S and 5C

Apple will be unveiling a new phone or new phones on September 10th.

New Colors: The 5S will have three significant hardware changes and a paint job. The rumor is that gold will join the iPhone suite of black and white color choices. Knowing Apple, we’re not talking a trashy gold lame. Predictions are for a matte, champagne-colored back and muted metallic gold on the front. 

Better Camera: On the hardware side, we expect a better camera, since many have complained about the current camera’s poor, grainy performance in low light. While some predict a 12 mega-pixel camera, the more prevalent guess is that we’ll see a camera with a larger f/2.0 aperture. That, plus a rumored dual-LED flash would greatly improve night shots.

Faster Processor: Since the mid-cycle “S” upgrades of iPhones have traditionally included a new processor, it’s almost certain that this phone will get an A7 chip for faster processing and better battery efficiency.

Fingerprint Sensor: But the big hardware speculation for the iPhone 5S is a fingerprint sensor in the home key. Since so few people actually use the password protection on the iPhone, this would be a much less invasive way of securing the device. Set up your fingerprint when you first buy the phone and then you just put your finger on the home key to wake it and unlock it.  Apple bought AuthenTec, a biometric security company last year, and almost everyone thinks the scanner is a sure thing to fight phone theft.

“Budget” Option: The iPhone 5C

The addition of a budget model in the iPhone line seems like a sure thing, and speculators have already dubbed it the iPhone 5C. It will have a poly-carbonate (plastic) shell, and a blogger in Australia says he has indications from a parts manufacturer that it will come in four colors: blue, red, yellow, and green.

So why is Apple launching a budget phone? Won’t it undercut its 5S market? Maybe in some regions, but cheaper Android phones are putting pressure on Apple, especially in developing regions like China and Brazil, so they need a cost-competitive model for the global market. But to be clear, we’re not talking about an iPhone for dirt-cheap. Speculation ranges from $349-$499 for an unlocked model – which could make the price with a two-year contract as low as zero.

So Should You Upgrade?

If you own a 4S or older iPhone, this upgrade seems like a no-brainer – especially if you think the budget model could work for you. But one consideration if you’re interested in the 5S: the blog CITI predicts the iPhone 6 will come out earlier than the usual late-summer release. If Apple bumps the more fully refreshed iPhone 6 into the March/April 2014 range, it might make it worth it to wait another six months for an even fresher iPhone.

[Related: Where to Get the Most Money for Your Old Gear]

Probable iPad Upgrades

The iPad Mini is prime for some additions prior to the holiday buying season. Some predict a budget model, in the $250 range, and giving it a high-resolution retina display would allow gift givers lots of choices.

More interesting: a rumored 13-inch iPad. Adding almost four inches to the existing display makes sense given how much video is watched on tablets. But the Macbook Air already has a 13-inch display, so the price on this larger iPad would have to be significantly lower to make it competitive with the more functional Air running the full Mac OS.

Maybes

The iWatch has been rumored for so long that there has to be fire where there’s this much smoke. Could a device that connects to your iPhone, tells you who’s calling, gives you some basic controls, and has Siri built in be in the pipeline? Absolutely. Does Apple need to compete in the wearable device space with Google Glass and Samsung, who is rumored to be coming out with a watch in early September? Yes. Are there reasons why this could be a scrapped idea that never comes to market? Yes. Apple traditionally avoids products witha ton of variation; supply chain efficiency and inventory management are the basis of their financial ethos. A watch is fraught with variation: men’s, women’s, colors? I still see this as a maybe.

No Way or Way Out Rumors

My favorite “way out” rumor comes from AppleInsider: 3D gesture control of IOS devices like iPads. Apple filed a patent is that describes using gestures above the device to pinch, pull, form, and manipulate an object (say a design for a 3D printer). The blog Digital Trends says “If a Jedi wanted to sculpt clay, it would probably be something like what Apple is describing here.” I like the idea, but I think the force is not strong with this rumor.

What do you think? Post your best Apple speculations on our Facebook page.

[Related: True/False: Never Sell Your Old Phone]

 

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