updated 01:05 pm EDT, Tue May 24, 2011
Backs earlier rumors
A Taiwanese supplier, Largan Precision, sees 8-megapixel lens modules replacing 5-megapixel ones as the mainstream for smartphones in the third quarter of 2011, according to local industry sources. The change is attributed to "possible orders from Apple," presumably for the next-generation iPhone, alternately dubbed the iPhone 5 or 4S. The claim backs earlier reports that Largan will supply lensing for sensors made by OmniVision. Currently just under 10 percent of Largan's lens modules are for 8-megapixel cameras.
The exact combination of features the next iPhone will get remains a matter of debate. An better camera is considered almost certain, along with a custom version of the A5 processor used in the iPad 2. The device could also sport an edge-to-edge screen, or even NFC (near-field communications), allowing for wireless payments among other interactions. The latter may have to wait until 2012, along with things like LTE.
Whatever its name the 2011 iPhone has been reported in some quarters to be a sort of stopgap model, much like the iPhone 3GS. Even then it may arrive late, as production schedules have so far pointed to a September debut.