WSJ: Apple Moves Toward Larger iPhone Screens

Svpply for iPhone

Lorraine Luk and Juro Osawa for The Wall Street Journal:

Apple Inc., which is expected to launch its next-generation iPhone later this year, has ordered screens from its Asian suppliers that are bigger than the ones used in iPhones since they debuted in 2007, people familiar with the situation said.

Production is set to begin next month for the screens, which measure at least 4 inches diagonally compared with 3.5 inches on the iPhone 4S, the latest phone from Apple, the people said.

With the increase in size, I can only imagine that LTE will make an appearance as well.

"4G"

Writing for The Verge, Nilay Patel has penned a scathing indictment of AT&T's forcefeeding of the "4G" label for the iPhone 4S. Nilay writes:

Owners of the iPhone will notice no difference in performance or data transfer speeds; the device will not magically connect to AT&T's shiny new 4G LTE network. It will simply receive a deceptive labeling change that allows AT&T to market the iPhone as a 4G device against competitive phones from Verizon — including, perhaps most importantly, Verizon's own 3G iPhone 4S. It is a triumph of marketing for AT&T, and a rare acquiescence to a poor and confusing user experience for Apple.

Although this change appears, as Nilay writes, to have occurred at the "impetus" of AT&T, it remains odd that Apple has complacently allowed for such a deceptive portion of the user experience. Regarding this topic, Shawn Blanc posed an interesting thought this morning on Twitter:

While this certainly seems viable, I would imagine that AT&T's pricing may be primarily responsive to Verizon's pricing. In any discussions, Verizon would have lacked any semblance of leverage over LTE plan pricing. Thus, I would imagine Apple dealt with Verizon first in order to set competitive prices prior to their discussions with AT&T.

In a darker sense, it's worth noting that Apple probably takes little issue with selling its device with a "4G" label. In a consumer environment characterized by the misinformed clamoring for highly marketed 4G connections, AT&T's fairly description of its service actually serves to give Apple a benefit in the average AT&T showroom.

Having said that, realistically, I doubt we will be blessed with a true answer to this evident inaccuracy and marketing ploy. However, what we do unquestionably know is that the "4G" label is now a permanent fixture for iOS and, as I wrote earlier today, I imagine it will become unilaterally present (and accurate) with the forthcoming iPhone.

LTE Devices with Sustainable Battery Life

This afternoon, Dan Frommer has taken a look at Nilay Patel's review of the Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx (what a name) and highlighted a particularly interesting excerpt:

In general use, I found that the Maxx would run for about a day and a half to two days without a charge if I used it normally. It also stood up to far more intense use: I spent about two hours tethered to LTE data on a trip to DC from New York, used the phone during the day, and tethered for another two hours on the way back, and still had about a quarter of a charge left.

In response, Dan writes:

I think it’s safe to say we’ll see the first LTE iPhones this year.

Honestly, implications for Apple aside, I'm just impressed that Motorola has been able to squeeze some decent battery out of an LTE device. Given the repeatedly documented disaster of LTE in Android phones over the past year or so, I had ostensibly come to the conclusion that LTE inefficiency was not going to be solved by any Android phone manufacturer. It's not that they don't have the capacity, it's more that none seem to have any moral obligation toward marketing their devices as game-changing, earth-shattering devices, despite their patently awful battery life. As such, why admonish their own devices with a new phone with a marketable feature of "acceptable battery, for once?"

Granted, Motorola's solution lacks any particular panache, with the manufacturer choosing to, as Patel writes, "almost as though on a whim" slap on a high capacity 3300 mAh battery. The solution - ugly and basic as it may be - is unquestionably effective, with Patel's tests demonstrating a doubling of battery life under even the most "intense" of tests. In standard use, Patel discovered borderline mythical battery life for LTE Android devices.

Back in December, reflecting upon Shawn Blanc's testing of the Galaxy Nexus and the truly appalling nature of LTE power consumption, I wrote:

Although I believe LTE is the future, the technology should simply not be present in its current form as a defining, advertised feature. If you expect to have a useable device, LTE entirely undercuts your hopes, and relegates your phone's potential connection speeds to isolated and inconvenient situations.

Motorola's solution is surprisingly simple in its execution. Simple to the point that I cannot help but wonder why no other Android manufacturer has done this yet? Credit where credit's due, I'm genuinely shocked that Motorola seems to have found an acceptable solution and acted upon it. In doing so, Motorola has thoroughly defeated my spectacularly low expectations. Accordingly, Frommer's assertion regarding Apple's adoption of LTE over the course of 2012 appears all the more viable. Although I doubt Apple will stoop to the whimsical implementation of a form-factor-shattering battery, I imagine Motorola's success is indicative of a collective industry focus upon efficiency, thereby rendering Apple's chances for success in the area that much higher. With its penchant for design and efficiency, Apple will not implement LTE until technology facilitates its power-friendly existence, and that certainly seems to be far more attainable now than it was six months ago.

As an aside, Motorola's apparent concern for battery life bodes well for its impending absorption into Google. As Google begins to spin up toward hardware production, Motorola's evident care for efficiency married with Google's concern for the integrity of the Android OS, hints at the potential for an efficient, Google-branded LTE device for 2012.

As I write on a seemingly weekly schedule, competition, and any innovation therein, is certainly a good thing. Furthermore, any advance with regard to LTE power efficiency is certainly not a bad thing, no matter how inelegant the solution may be.