Tomorrow’s iPhone Event: ‘Game Changer’ or ‘Incremental Update’?

Is there anybody who doesn’t know Apple is going to introduce the iPhone 5 tomorrow at 1pm Eastern time? The rumor mill and speculation on blogs have been working overtime in the run up to the event. Consumers have stopped buying the existing iPhone (and potentially other mobile phones) in anticipation of the new device.

Most of the speculation has surrounded a few features such as larger screen size, a smaller dock connector, NFC and the availability of 4G/LTE support. But the expectations are so high for a “game changing” device that anything Apple announces will be met with almost certain criticism and disappointment.

Regardless, the iPhone is at a critical moment. Samsung and Android more generally have certainly “caught up” and in some minds surpassed the Apple device. If the new iPhone is not seen as enough of a change from what exists today it could mean significantly weaker demand as mobile phone buyers “move on.”

The two features that must (capital M) appear tomorrow are a larger screen and 4G support. The iPad now supports 4G/LTE so the probability that the next iPhone will as well is almost 100%.

The screen is also certain to be larger given all the design “leaks” and the recognized demand for larger screens. My question is whether the larger-screen iPhone will be proportional or just “tall.” If the width of the phone is not increased while the length or height is it could look very awkward — like a teen experiencing a growth spurt.

The aesthetics of the phone matter. Ideally the new iPhone should also be thinner as well.

NFC support could be present although the consensus now is that it will not. Improved battery life would also be a welcome though not absolutely essentially development.

This iPhone will be a test of post-Jobs Apple in a way that nothing so far has been. People want more than simply the iPhone 4S the sequel. They want something truly new and improved. We’ll see what Apple delivers.

The iPhone (“iPhone Cinq”) will be available for pre-order tomorrow and probably for delivery and in-stores on September 21 (if the rumors are true). Some financial analysts are expecting weekend sales of 5 to 6 million handsets. That might be possible if the new iPhone is truly a great device.

Are you planning to buy the new iPhone? What would it take to get you truly excited?

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