Regarding iWatch, iTV, iPhone 5S, bigger and less expensive iPhones, iPad 5, and iPad mini 2

Absent fact, rumors run rampant. It's only natural. Secrecy breeds curiosity, and huge fall releases of almost every product in Apple's lineup leads to speculation about what, if anything, they have left for the new year. The broad strokes are probably obvious -- there'll be new phones and new tablets, but this year we're seeing renewed rumors of bigger and less expensive phones, and of watches and television projects as well. Like any year, we also have major newspapers publishing leaks, and financial analysts reporting nonsense. So what can be made of all of this?

Well, according to people who have provided accurate information to iMore in the past...


Last night I took a look at the idea of an iWatch, and the difference between it being an iPhone- or iPad-level business, and an Apple TV-style hobby. The iWatch project -- regardless of how the device is eventually named or marketed -- sounds like its a go. We haven't heard anything specific about feature sets or timelines yet, but we have heard it's moving forward.

If the entire project sounds like a dumb idea to you, however, just remember how dumb Apple phones, tablets, mini tablets, and set top boxes sounded to many back before -- and even after -- they were first announced.


Conversely, it doesn't sound like there's much if any movement on an iTV, or actual Apple television panel. What was in the lab remains in the lab, what was being explored is still being explored, but the realities of that market haven't changed.

iPhone 5s, bigger iPhone, and less expensive iPhone

iPhone 5s -- or whatever Apple ends up calling the S-class internal update to the existing iPhone 5 platform -- sounds like it's well underway and will once again be the major phone product from Apple in 2013, just as the iPhone 5 was last year, the iPhone 4S was the year before, and so on.

With the iPhone 5s keeping the focus this year, the bigger iPhone sounds like it's still more prototype than product. Last month I did the math on how Apple could scale the existing iPhone 5 platform to a 5-inch form factor, and followed up with how the interface would scale to 5-inches with it. Technically, it all seems solid. In terms of go-to-market, however, it doesn't sound imminent.

The less expensive iPhone seems like it's been on the drawing board for years, but so far Apple's chosen to reduce the price of previous iPhone models instead of introducing new, deliberately less expensive ones. Massive deals with carriers in emerging markets, or the prospect of reducing the iPhone 5 to cheap or free on contract, and the pressure that puts on margins and ASP (average sales price) could be what ultimately causes Apple to change strategies and introduce the less expensive model. Like with the bigger iPhone, the way for Apple to get to a less expensive iPhone seems all worked out, it's the timing that's in question.

iPad 5 and iPad mini 2

To bring the full-sized iPad casing in line with the iPad mini's, and to bring the iPad mini display up to the full size iPad's Retina quality, will take improvements to the efficiencies of the screens, the LED that lights them, the chipsets that drive them, and the batteries that power them. All of those are coming, it's just a question of when they get here.

If you want to imagine the iPad 5, look at the mockup I posted last month (above), or the mockup at the top of this post, or picture a 9.7-inch screen with an iPad mini casing, making it effectively a package that fits halfway between. If you want to imagine a Retina iPad mini, picture the existing iPad mini with a display as dense as the iPhone 5.

Achieving displays that dense in casings that thin and light is beyond non-trivial, so if you even think about calling them "boring", please hand in your gadget-lovers card at the door on your way out...

2013 and beyond

Even with the massive updates last year, 2013 looks poised to hold its own. Even if some of the updates seem obvious and iterative, there's a chance for new, ecosystem expanding, perhaps breakthrough new products in the pipeline as well.

Sexy next generation hardware aside, I still feel like the next couple of years need to be more about iOS 7 and 8, iCloud and Siri, than iOS devices, and even given the recent management changes and turnovers, people sound excited about not just the atoms but the bits as well.

That's a good sign.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • I have to agree about the iOS 7 & 8. I love my iPhone & iPad, they are great devices - but as we've seen from the jailbreak community, all iOS devices could be soooo much more.
  • Then how about this ? -
  • Most of my reply is probably covered by this link. Only just posted it, about the iPhone 6, iPhone 5S and the Apple TV here... But for the iPads, I still like to see a bigger iPad. 13-15inch. It would have to be desk bound but, I can really see a use for more desktop style apps. Bigger video and image creation tools where you need to see the whole picture.
  • Re: "Achieving displays that dense in casings that thin and light is beyond non-trivial, so if you even think about calling them "boring", please hand in your gadget-lovers card at the door on your way out..." Especially you Android Apologists who wave your sparkly pom-poms when Samsung bumps Galaxy CPU clock speed while calling "S-class" iPhones "boring." You know who you are.
  • Steve Jobs wanted to reinvent tv, text books and photography. Maybe the fourth one on his list was the wrist watch, or wearable remote control, that displays the time as it will be. If it could connect to iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV and Mac you would already have a massive customer base. It wouldn't have to forge a market share, it wouldn't be a hobby type product, but an accessory that would interface with existing products.
  • iWatch: I feel the watch can really work for kids. Not just for kids, but even today our young schools are still ask students to not bring cell phones into the classroom or media players, but wearing a watch is okay. Wearing a watch is not the same as wearing a hat in class, there's a critical amount of utility to a watch. While some schools allow mobile phones & media players, but never during class. As if that rule is respected; of course it's not. But still, I remember the only watches not allowed in were ones with a calculator on them and they were only banned in Math class for possible "cheating." Imagine kids with smart watches, even without a keyboard they can be useful: tracking (GPS), Siri Q&A, basic communication (Wi-Fi/4G), not to mention offer basic touch apps like calculators & wardrobe matching (hue configs). Oh yeah, and they can tell you the date & time. iTV: I see the hockey puck being more and more the "real" iTV/AppleTV. I wouldn't be shocked to hear that all the custom displays in the Apple labs were really just test displays for the hockey puck redo, and not a full display. I'm sure console makers are watching... and praying.
  • No they're not. The console players are moving the ball ahead on their own. It's not like they're stuck in 1978 with crt technology.
  • Bigger Screen......
  • for iphone.
  • so ipad mini you mean? they better not make the phone itself bigger, i cant stand to force a phablet into my pocket...
  • Then don't buy one.
  • iOS improvements sound really exciting. Drum roll as a date picker is indeed outdated (and inconvenient). My wish list also includes one thing that you mentioned in the older article about iOS expectations in 2013: analytics that delight developers and users alike!!
  • While this was focused on iOS, any thoughts on OS X 10.9?
  • I know there is nothing for sure until seen on the stag but I'm excited about the iwatch.
  • When it comes to Apple, the thing I'm looking forward to the most is iOS7, sadly, that's not looking like it's coming to market until next year with the iPhone 6. iOS has been around for years now and it's still missing features, some of them very subtle. I got a huge list but something so simple as having the ability to have timestamps on every text message. Please Apple, can I get this simple functionality?
  • Why next year, iOS 7 is definitely coming this summer. Apple has always released a new iOS version every year and there are web site logs to indicate they're already testing it along with 10.9.x.
  • Any guesses at to the date of the next media event before WWDC?
  • Looking forward to an iPad Mini with retina display + a bigger iPhone/iPod Touch.
  • If the iWatch is similar but better to Pebble, it is definite buy for me. The Apple TV will do well if it I can get the HD channels I want without the trouble of OTWC or others. An update to iOS is what I'm most excited about. I mean Intellixscreen is basically everything I want in iOS. Along with Zephr too. The iPad 5 or (mini designed full iPad) and iPad Mini 2 w/ retina display are givens. At this point, a larger iPhone won't really excite me since we get get a similar experience with the iPad mini. I hope they take great chances with adding more features into iOS like widgets, more gestures, better maps, and of course notifications. I recently tried the galaxy note 2 and loved the UI but it was just too big. The iPhone 5 is just right. I can't wait to the future holds for Apple.
  • Iwatch will never be more than a niche product. Recall that the nano was a small square last iteration, and came with clock faces so that with a third party band, you could wear it like a watch. Neat little watch indeed. But was that a game changer? No. And neither will the iwatch be. The watch itself is getting to be a niche product as well. lots just use the phone for time.
  • ah the many times that has been said about so many products in the past. tablets were niche too, i remember back when cell phones themselves were called that. you may very well be right, then again thats assuming they dont think of something you cant think of right now. i dont wear watches, dont really like them, i dont think i'd ever be interested in an iwatch because i cant think of anything that would make them needed. however i am open to the thought that someone else might come up with something i could never think of.
  • The differences between watches and cell phones and tablets is that wristwatches have been around for about a many years and those other things weren't. The more think about it, it's not watches that are losing popularity, it's just the wristwatch. The pocketwatch lives on in your cell phone.
  • yes, and what displaced the pocket watch? the wristwatch.
  • please help mee peopleeeee .. i want to bye iphone 5 but i'm in another country. in georgia. my uncle is in new york can he byes me ihone and send me in georgia ? im interesting it . can ai use iphone in orher contry and what does it cost iphone 5 ??? and what does it mean on contract ? off contract? pleaseeeeeee help meee. pleaseeee. PLEASE HELP ME. I dont know english languige very good . and please tell me it conceivably / pleaseee help
  • help meeeeeeeee. i need it very much !
  • It is time to open up Siri with a developer SKU for IOS and OS X, add new finger print security and NFC (including apps). I think those new items would get people excited about software and the hardware again. iWatch would be a great addition to the above.
  • What about this -
  • lol @ "Even with the massive updates last year..."
  • I suspect a cheaper phone. Apple is always a premium option in the consumer electronics. they will not come down to cheaper levels like Samsung. Apple never did something to beat the competition by bringing up cheaper products. Also they will not do something affects the brand name which is evolved over decades. As Cook mentioned, they're making products cheaper by not compromising in quality but the previous *really* capable versions to buy for a cheaper price.