applelogo.png No sooner does the hubbub die down after the new iPad launch than word starts sneaking out about the due date and dimensions of Apple's next smartphone. Just as well, as rivals are now marching ahead with bigger screens and more features, leaving iPhone looking marginally outclassed in a cutthroat market.

The Treadmill Rolls On

Some seven months after the announcement of iPhone 4S, the guessing game starts again for Apple's next product (excluding the possibility of HDTVs, new Macs and mini-iPads). There was huge excitement last year about the possibility of an iPhone 5, and consequent grumbling when all that came out was an uprated iPhone 4. What will Apple do to restore faith?

Early reports from the supply chain reported by Reuters suggest the iPhone 5 (or will it be just plain iPhone, if Apple drops the numbering as it has with new multi-million selling iPad) will come with a 4.2-to-4.6-inch display to match the current big-screen experience offered by the top Android models. Does Apple really need to scale up its size, given the hi-res Retina display, and the much joked-about size of the Galaxy Note? Also, will existing apps scale happily to whatever the new resolution ends up being?

Size Isn't Everything

Another possible change (but a less visible one) is another shrink wash for the humble SIM card. Apple and other industry players are looking for a even smaller version of the micro-SIM cards currently in use. With every millimeter counting inside a smartphone, shrinking the SIM and its connectors allows more room for extra battery or other features.

If Apple really wants to throw something interesting into the mix, then this patented haptic feedback system might do the trick to keep the dwindling magic in smartphones alive. Either way, these or any other changes will likely necessitate a restyling of the design, and fans (let's face it, mere "users" really doesn't cover it anymore) will be looking for something super exciting from Sir Jony Ive's lab.

Whatever he produces, the same Reuters report suggest a second quarter launch (June is the current favorite date) for the next iPhone. Perhaps that's simply because it is ready to be built after the protracted development journey, or because Apple wants to get the iPhone launch out of the way before embarking on the much-rumored HDTV project.