We’ve come an awfully long way since the first iPhone was released in 2007. The last three and a half years have seen dramatic improvements in both the hardware and software of Apple’s smartphone. So what more could you ask for? A lot, it turns out.


We’ve come an awfully long way since the first iPhone was released in 2007. The last three and a half years have seen dramatic improvements in both the hardware and software of Apple’s smartphone. So what more could you ask for? A lot, it turns out.

Well, I have a few modest suggestions. And in the spirit of the holiday season, I’m offering this wish list (along with the one I already compiled for iOS 5) to Santa in the hope that he can put in a good word with Steve Jobs. You never know; it might work.

Advanced Capacitive Touchscreen

This is something I forget about in the summer months, but now that snow is falling, I resent having to take my gloves off to use my iPhone. (Have you ever tried answering your iPhone with the tip of your nose? Far from dignified…) Certain exotic gloves are available that make it possible to use a capacitive touchscreen while keeping one’s digits warm, but they’re often expensive or gimmicky. It might sound too good to be true, but a report last month on Patently Apple suggested just such a technology might be on its way.

Thinner, Lighter, Stronger

Forget glass. Yeah, it looks great but I don’t care if it is made from the same stuff used in helicopter windscreens. Can liquid metal provide us with a super thin, super-strong chassis? Failing that, I don’t mind a carbon fibre composite (which is likely a better material than metal anyway, since it won’t interfere with the iPhone’s many radios.)

Capacitive Charging

This one’s a long shot. The trouble with capacitive charging is that it’s molasses-slow and expensive to implement. But there’s still something alluring about the concept of simply resting my phone on a minimal Apple-branded surface and watching it get charged. A liquid-metal body (see above) would, by the way, make this much easier to implement.

More Sensors! More!

Adding temperature, pressure, humidity and EMF sensors might sound insane, but imagine the apps that would appear to exploit such tech! Incidentally, with a metal chassis, a future iPhone might feasibly contain a heart-rate sensor of the kind commonly found in treadmills and workout equipment. A heart rate monitor in Nike+ would be a great addition to that service… as would a pedometer. Bottom line here – the more sensors we can get in the iPhone, the more versatile it will become.

Impossibly Long-Lived Battery

This is a tough one. See, it’s hard to ask for all these new sensors and next-generation capacitive touch screens and still say I want a longer-lasting, high-performance battery. But still, I’m asking for it anyway. This is a wish list after all. And even if delivering a “miracle battery” means breaking the very laws of physics, well, I’m sure Apple can do it.

Automatic Owner Recognition

If you use your iPhone for every little thing, you probably use the passcode lock to keep your personal data safe. For the curious, the current four digit passcode software lock offers 1,048,576 possible combinations. That’s probably good-enough for most people already accustomed to having to memorize PINs for their credit and debit cards, but I’d like to see this taken much further. A combination of facial recognition, bioelectrical impedance analysis and voice print identification could make an iPhone far more secure than it is today. It would certainly help sell to government customers after the WikiLeaks fiasco.

Multicore Processors

The just-released Infinity Blade is an impressive achievement on the iPhones 3GS and 4, given that they use single-core processors. Imagine what might be possible with dual or quad-core processors in a future device.

Touch Sensitive Bezel

There’s a (sort of) joke shared amongst the Apple faithful that if Steve Jobs could do-away with the iPhone’s single button, he would. Well, he can. In fact, should. The Home button’s functionality could be replaced with capacitive gesture input built into the iPhone’s bottom-bezel which could remain large, but nowhere near as large as it must be to accommodate the hardware button. What’s more, gestures could be added (or edited) at any time to allow for even more functionality, like instant access to the device’s camera.

High Definition Sound

Forget that tinny, crackling mono voice that you hear when you use the iPhone as an actual phone. HD voice calls are amazing and, a bit like HD TV, must be experienced to be believed. This isn’t entirely an iPhone-only thing though – carriers must provide support for wideband audio (as it is more properly known), and precious few have shown much interest in doing so. In the UK, for instance, only one carrier has launched HD voice support, and that was just a few months ago. Good luck convincing AT&T that it should be a priority.

So there you have it: my ten wishes for the iPhone 5. The list surely goes on. I’d love to know what you most want in next year’s inevitable hardware update; share your ideas in the comments below.

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  1. What about higher touch sensitivity? Ability to read finger prints etc…

  2. What the iPhone needs is a discreet notification light so you know whether it wants your attention in the first place. That omission is as ridiculous as the camera flash has been.

    Having experience with non-physical buttons, I’d take the iPhone’s reassuring click every time, and for double clicks, it just gets better.

  3. aiiskoplusaiist Monday, December 13, 2010

    Just pointing out that the possible combinations for the ‘simple'(4 number) passcode lock is only 10^4 (upto 9999 and including 0000) and not 4^10 (1,048,576). Makes you think, only 10,000 bank pins to choose from! Must be a lot of people with the exact same pin as you…

    1. Hello aiiskoplusaiist

      When calculating potential combinations the formula is to take the base first and then raise to the power of the total possible digits. So in calculating a PIN number for an iPhone, the formula is;

      Base 4 ^ 10 = 1,048,576

      Doing it the other way around is incorrect.

      Just sayin ;-)

      1. Hello Liam,

        except, the base is ten, the number of digits is four. That is probably why the decimal system is called “base ten”, and a number like 7643 is called a “four-digit number” (I am not trying to be sarcastic, just helpful). If you were correct, it would be possible to express numbers large than 9999 using only four digits in the decimal system. Just sayin’



      2. the easy way to think about this:

        How many options for the first digit? 10 (0-9 is 10 options)
        How many options for the second digit? 10
        How many options for the third digit? 10
        How many options for the fourth digit? 10

        How many total? 10*10*10*10 = 10,000

      3. The base in this case is not the base of our culture’s choice of decimal system! Rather, it’s the base of the combination system in-hand.

        In this case, a four-digit passcode lock is Base 4.

        If it were a six digit passcode, it would be Base 6.

        And then 0-9 digits gives 10 possible numbers for each input.

        So: Base 4 ^ 10.

        I’m not sure why people want to argue this so much – do a few minutes research online, you’ll quickly find lots of corroborating sources that confirm this is the correct formula.

        Thanks everyone :-)

      4. You are just wrong, Liam.

      5. I don’t need to do online research to count to from 0 to 9,999, but okay…. http://lmgtfy.com/?q=how+many+possibilities+are+there+for+a+four+digit+lock

  4. Liam, I know.. It’s cold here in the UK and every time I have to use my iPod touch I have to take my gloves off but since you wrote this wish list.. Apple will definitely listen to your views for the next iPhone 5. :) GO LIAM!!!

  5. Richard Wallace Monday, December 13, 2010

    SMS and MMS Delivery reports is a must for me, I’m lost without it, but that’s more of an IOS development request, in fact I have loads of those.

    Hardware wise:

    1) My main issue is that I don’t like the silent button, I’m always accidentially switching it to silent/vibrate.

    2) A back that doesn’t sratch so easy, I look after my phone and it was scratched within a couple days.

    3) A camera button on the side for quicker camera access.

    4) More memory, or at least more options as I don’t think 32GB is enough.

    5) I like the biometric idea already suggested.

  6. I’d like to be able to use both cameras at the same time. That way you not only see what I’m seeing, but also my reaction to it.

  7. Here’s another one:

    Syncing / sending files & files via bluetooth
    and possibly wlan

  8. Hardware:
    Bluetooth file transfer. Please.
    Better battery.

    Better notifications.
    WiFi on/off switch by the on-screen orientation lock.
    Change the Voice Memos icon back.
    iPhoto-less photo album creation.

    …and I’m sold!

  9. 8 megapixel camera on front & back, for better pictures video & face time!
    And since were on the matter of FaceTime why don’t we just allow it over 3G? If we have a jailbroken phone we all know that it works fine over 3G..

    1. Ask your carrier.

    2. I think that there are two main reasons for this; one, AT&T’s network isn’t big enough to be able to support every single iPhone 4’s facetime ability. Also, I think that it also has to do with the current data plans. If you use facetime over 3G and look at the data consumption, you can see that even if you could do it, not for very long..

  10. I beg to disagree on these:

    * Not thinner. The iPhone isn’t a brick. The same thickness or more would be justified by more battery life.

    * No more sensors. Other than perhaps temperature, it’s hard to see much use for the ones you suggest. Better to spend the money on a more sensitive GPS.

    I agree with Cold Water, a discreet notification light (perhaps with several colors) would great for situations where sound isn’t appropriate. Users should be able to choose what those colors mean.

    With Droids closing up behind them, Apple’s also going to be a hurtin if they don’t have several models of iPhones, including a waterproof sport model.

    1. Droids are not closing up behind iPhones. AT&T sells way more iPhones than Verizon sells all of their smartphones combined (Droid, BlackBerry, Windows).

      Even if you are talking “Android”, not (Verizon) “Droid”, most Android sales take place in emerging markets, on what are basically free phones that don’t compete with iPhones. They are essentially feature phones with a Web browser.

      Apple already provides the most choice in handsets, because users can easily customize their phone with 300,000 powerful native C apps with no I-T help required. Try to use a friend’s iPhone … it is not the same as yours, even if they are the same model. My iPhone has lots of music and audio and art apps because that is what I do, others have lots of games, or lots of business apps. Each app is an entirely new set of buttons and readouts.

      Further, there are like 10,000 cases for iPhones, because case manufacturers know there will be so many millions of potential customers for an iPhone 4 case, or iPhone 3G case. Many times I don’t recognize another person’s iPhone as being an iPhone.

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