updated 07:55 pm EST, Fri January 14, 2011
iPad 2, iPhone 5 go dual mode 3G, Apple TV 1080p
Apple's iOS device plans may have slipped out in large fashion through a detailed rumor Friday night. The company is now believed to be using dual-mode chipsets for all its cellular devices, including the iPad 2 and iPhone 5. Both are reportedly dropping Infineon entirely for their basebands and would instead use hybrid CDMA and GSM chipsets from Qualcomm; Engadget didn't know which, but the chip designer already has dual-mode parts with EVDO and HSPA+ support that would give it 3G on both CDMA and GSM carriers.
Some details may also have escaped regarding specific device features. While the iPad 2's thinner, dual-camera design is widely known, the 9.7-inch tablet would as rumored get a "super high resolution" screen with pixel density somewhat like that of the iPhone 4's Retina Display. No full USB ports would exist, but the area at the bottom once thought reserved only for the speakers would include an SD card slot as well.
The iPhone 5, and likely the iPad 2 and iPod touch 5 as well, would get a major leap in performance as alluded to through a Taiwan supplier leak earlier on Friday. A new processor, possibly just called the A5, would give the devices a dual-core, ARM Cortex-A9 design that would be a generational leap over the single-core Cortex-A8 used today. As with similar designs attached to the BlackBerry PlayBook and NVIDIA Tegra 2 devices like the Atrix 4G, it could play 1080p video "like running water."
Design details of the iPhone 5 are scarce, but it could be a "total rethink" in physical design. Testing is still early and guarded closely enough that only senior Apple workers are allowed to use prototypes, and then only on campus.
The Cupertino-based company may also buck its tradition of conservative Apple TV updates and revamp the media hub this year. It too would use the A5 and thus play 1080p video for the first time, catching up to the Boxee Box and Roku Internet Players. Little else is known, but its narrow purpose may make it a conservative change other than the speed upgrade.
Apple is still anticipated to follow its pattern of updating devices in one year cycles for each. The iPad 2 would be ready in April and followed up by the iPhone 5 in summer. A ship date for the Apple TV wasn't mentioned by name, but the company usually rolls out Apple TV updates at its annual September event.
Engadget has an occasionally mixed track record on rumors but is known to have occasionally received very accurate leaks. The sources here included those who gave out accurate details about the Apple TV's switch to iOS.
All of the updates could ensure that Apple is at least competitive with the majority of its rivals, the better of which will have dual-core processors in their smartphones and tablets. Dual-mode, truly comprehensive cellular hardware wasn't certain but could significantly improve Apple's economies of scale by letting it single models of the iPad and iPhone that will work on every carrier Apple hoped to support. Motorola, RIM and others make a handful of "world edition" phones for carriers like Verizon but often intentionally cripple frequency support to prevent use with certain competing carriers. The new approach might not necessarily let customers switch carriers freely but could open up possibilities for GSM roaming beyond Verizon.