The iPhone has been stuck behind the camera curve for a while now. Last year, every high-end Android smartphone launched seemed to pack an 8 MP shooter. But the iPhone 4 only ended up with "dinky" 5 MP. Fortunately, Apple's camera software is miles ahead of the competition. Despite having weaker hardware, reviewers tended to compare the iPhone 4 favorably to Android offerings.
But Google's OS is starting to catch up, and another year at 5 MP seems unlikely. Thanks to Howard Stringer of Sony, we now have confirmation that the iPhone 5 will receive a major camera upgrade. During an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the Sony chief revealed that his company's camera sensor plant in Sendai had been damaged by the earthquake. As a result, shipments of the new sensors would be delayed.
This means no new iPhone at WWDC 2011. It also lends credence to the rumors of a Fall launch for iOS 5. Right now, it seems all-too-likely that Apple will end up breaking their iPhone launch 'pattern'. If the iPhone 5 isn't ready in volume for a June launch, Apple may decide to hold off until later in the year. This would mean 'ceding' the summer sales season, but it would also give Apple a commanding position come the Holidays.
A delayed iPhone 5 launch could mean very good things for this next wave of competing handsets. The Galaxy S 2 and Evo 3D will have a much longer span in the limelight. We may end up seeing additional handsets rushed to market this summer in order to capitalize on the 'open' summer. This could be a very good few months for Android. But...
If Apple's supply chain was sorely affected by the quake, odds are good they weren't the only ones. The smartphones that do launch in time for the summer may not ship in significant volume. We could also see an increase in cost to offset the production slowdown. At this point, it is too early to tell. We should hear more as Apple's rivals gear up for their June launches.