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Parts of what might be Apple's next iPhone have been surfacing for some time. However, the frequency of these leaks has been on the rise in the last month.
Assuming these stories are accurate, we can begin to picture what the next iPhone might look like. The increase in leaked parts also tells us that Apple is likely to begin manufacturing the handset very soon, so it can have millions ready in time for a holiday season launch.
Whether Apple will call it the iPhone 5, iPhone 6, or something else is unclear at this point. Remember, it dropped that naming convention with the new iPad. The photos appearing in the leaked stories show that the upcoming device will be flat, similar to the current iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S design. The device is noticeably taller, and has an aluminum backplate. Some users have criticized the glass back of the current design because it shatters easily if the handset is dropped. Perhaps Apple hopes to make this design a bit more durable.
New photos of what is reported to be the next iPhone's backplate have surfaced on the Internet. They show the elongated design that is in line with reports of an iPhone with close to a 16:9 aspect ratio.
Leaked photos of the front panel tell us two things: 1) It's flat--that kills any speculation that it might have a curved front a la the Samsung Galaxy S series--and 2) there is a home button, and it resembles the current one.
Smaller dock connector and moved headphones jack?
The photos also reveal a change in the dock connector. It is much smaller than Apple's current 30-pin connector, which has been part of Apple's devices for quite some time now. This presents a few challenges as users of these devices will have to buy new docks and chargers. It's not unheard of as Apple's older devices used Firewire, which was eventually phased out. Perhaps they plan a similar move with the current design.
It also looks as if the headphone jack has been moved to the bottom. Maybe it will be useful for newly-designed iPhone docks.
What about the iOS?
On the software side, we can see that Apple might be planning a new 3-D Maps app in iOS 6 (see below). This rumor has been reported before, but this time we have pictures. They come from none other than BoyGeniusReport (BGR), which has a pretty good track record when it comes to iOS. That said, whatever its source is, it must be someone within Apple, or a developer who is very close to the company as there is currently nothing in the iOS Dev Center on version 6. Therefore, it's unlikely that iOS 6 will see a release by Apple's World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC), which takes place June 11-15.
It's also unlikely that Apple will make any mention of a new aspect ratio at the event. Perhaps they will mention a few key features of iOS 6 and keep the rest under wraps.
Are these parts real?
It's unclear at this point whether the latest leaks are real parts of a new phone. Many pieces of what were claimed to be part of the iPhone 5 leaked last year--and none turned out to be the iPhone 4S.
That said, it's worth noting that actual pieces do occasionally escape into the wild. Sometimes components leak from overseas. Recently, Apple prototypes, such as this iPad with two dock connectors, made it into the public eye.
That's not including iPhones lost in bars.