After the iPhone 5 launch, as Apple faces the challenge of meeting market demand, mobile brands are considering what the next generation of smartphone will be. Specifications of any individual components are not the key to a successful smartphone, but how they work together to achieve new levels of performance. The iPhone 5 shows that thinness, power efficiency, and advanced performance can coexist if the brand has very strong design capability and is partnered with top-tier component vendors.
Before the iPhone 5 launch, we forecast that the reduction in display thickness from in-cell touch would be used to for a larger battery, but it turns out that the battery capacity is almost same as the iPhone 4S: 1,440 vs. 1,432 mAh, both 5.3Wh. Instead, Apple made the iPhone 5 slimmer: 7.9 vs. 9.3 mm for the iPhone 4S. In addition to adopting in-cell touch and eliminating the back cover glass, Apple used more advanced technologies and components to achieve the goals of high performance and power consumption. These will be objectives that other brands want to achieve in 2013. High-end smartphones are likely to emphasize the following features in 2013:
- Thinner. Tier-one panel makers have indicated that their in-cell touch smartphone panel designs can be 1.9 mm thick, including cover lens, nearly as thin as AMOLED panels.
- Advanced CPU. Apple’s A6 SoC is reportedly dual core and not based on ARMIP, but rather Apple’s own design. In the A6, clock speed is only one way to judge performance. Apple’s ability to design and work with an advanced IC foundry to achieve the optimal combination of performance and power consumption is not possible for most mobile brands, who do not have such capabilities or huge sales volume for a single product: we expect iPhone sales will be over 135 million units this year. ARMand other application processor vendors have technologies such as multiple cores and “big.LITTLE” to allow high performance with low power consumption; other mobile brands will most likely work with these vendors in order to save time and money, given no other model will sell as many units.
- The GPU (graphics processor unit) is increasingly important. There are reportedly 3 GPU cores in the A6 SoC (possibly a PowerVR SGX 543MP3 running at 266MHz), which highlights that the role of the GPU will be more important for complicated image rendering in smartphones.
- Efficient RFPA (radio frequency power amplifier) for LTE. Industry sources indicate that at LTE output of 23 dBm, power consumption is almost six times that of HSUPA output of 15 dBm. Reducing power consumption of LTE RF components is critical with the 4G market growing.