New iPhone 5 rumors, giant tablets and shared data plans

All the mobile rumors that you see around the web, compiled, rated, and usually shot down

I’m going to try something new in this here Mobilize space, and by "something new," I mean "kind of snarky and high-minded and slightly lazy." I’m going to round up all the notable rumors coming out of the mobile field, the kind that generate their own blog posts and news items around the web, and pile them all here for you to inspect, review, and often dismiss with a knowing glance.

Without further ado, then, here’s this week’s fresh batch of mid-week rumors, sorted, summarized, and rated by a guy who spent more than three years reading around 1,000 headlines every day, and so has fairly thick skin and almost permanently raised eyebrows. It’s a condition I’m hoping gets medical recognition soon, along with Phantom Phone Vibration Sensation (PPVS).

The Samsung Slush Pile

Samsung to unveil 11.6-inch Galaxy Tab in February

Source: Android and Me, the editor of which got some hands-on time with a prototype tablet built to showcase the processor which Samsung is purportedly ahead of the pack, and also Boy Genius Report, which cited a trusted source suggesting the same specifications.

Details: A tablet measuring 11.6 inches is big, but the most impressive aspect could be a screen resolution pegged at 2560x1600 pixels (known in nerd circles as WXQGA, pronounced “Wicks-kwoh-gah”)(no, it’s not actually pronounced any way, but that would be fun). If you were in an Apple-baiting mood, you might say that was a Retina-like display. To power all that pixel-shuffling, the tablet sports a dual-core 2 Ghz Exynos 5250 from ARM, based on a new low-power process. Translation: lots of purported power with a supposedly good battery life. This would debut at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in February in Barcelona, Spain.

Likelihood: Pretty good, given two sources stating the same exact specifications within months of each other, one of which had Samsung asking him to delete pictures he snapped of a prototype (though that’s probably a standard procedure for any electronics prototype).

Get excited?: To my mind, nobody has been holding out on buying an iPad (or, to a much lesser extent, an Android tablet, TouchPad, or BlackBerry PlayBook) becuase they were just too darn small. Still, if four things clicked--the display was indeed crisp as all get out, the hardware able to deliver that display without lag, and Android 4.0 gets some real interest from app developers soon, and the price is at or less than $500--it could be a real treat for those actually opposed to Apple devices. But even in horse racing, you only bet on three horses to win, place, and show.

Slightly faster Galaxy Nexus to arrive soon, possibly on Sprint

Source: Droid Life, via hardware benchmarking site NenaMark.

Details: Texas Instruments’ SGX544 is notably more powerful than the SGX540 installed in the standard Galaxy Nexus, released by Google through Verizon Wireless. Even when underclocked below its predecessor (at 1.3 GHz), the SGX544 outperforms the SGX540 running at 1.4 GHz.

Likelihood: Half and half. One can, indeed, fake the names reported to a benchmark test, or fake results. But the SGX544 is a real chip, and the Galaxy Nexus is likely to hit another network soon, so why not upgrade the hardware, if possible?

Get excited?: No, unless you were absolutely set on the Galaxy Nexus arriving on Sprint. Processor power doesn’t make the mobile experience. Hope instead for a promise that this Galaxy Nexus will be updated for at least 18 months.

Apple Asides

iPhone 5 “ready for production”

Source: 9to5 Mac, through a “reliable source at Foxconn.”

Details: “Numerous sample devices” are “floating around,” but the only things they have in common are screens larger than 4 inches, and none of them fitting the iPhone 4/4S shape.

Likelihood: That iPhone 5 prototypes exist? High. That any of them can be reliably pointed at as the thing that gets made for summer? Very, very low.

Get excited?: Only if you need a daydream for a coffee break.

Mobile payment system to be baked into iPhone 5

Source: 9to5 Mac, along with a Fast Company interview with MasterCard’s “emerging payments” honcho.

Details: The iPhone 5 could include a Near-Field Communication (NFC) chip that allows for, among other things, making mobile payments at stores. Google already has Google Wallet in place in the Galaxy Nexus and future Android phones, utilizing NFC payments through MasterCard and Visa programs. If rumors panned out, Apple would partner with MasterCard and its PayPass system exclusively.

Likelihood: Very high that a future iPhone will get NFC built in, as evidenced by Apple’s NFC-related patents and the growing market acceptance of mobile payments. That it’s in the iPhone 5 specifically? About 50/50.

General Mobile Mumblings

Shared “family plans” for data coming to Verizon coming soon

Source: Engadget.

Details: Following up on Verizon’s previous statement about shared data plans, Engadget reports that indicators of said plans are showing up in software screenshots used to train employees on new offerings.

Likelihood: Pretty high, though “soon” could mean just an announcement of said plans during the first quarter of 2012.

Get excited?: If you feel that you’re paying too much for the small amount of data yourself and your spouse use up, sure. If you have kids with smartphones, this is playing with chemical fire.

Note: top image is a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, stretched out to about 11.6 inches, with width kept the same. Probably not the exact right form factor, but you get the idea.

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