By Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY
LOS ANGELES - Morgan Buehler has been waiting for a new iPhone, and she has a long laundry list of features she'd like to see on the iPhone 5, which Apple is expected to unveil next Wednesday at a media event in San Francisco.
"I've been waiting for the upgrade for 11 months," says Buehler, who works in advertising in Los Angeles and has an iPhone 4. "I can't wait for the new one. I want longer battery life, a bigger screen, faster Internet and better speakers."
Since the iPhone's 2007 debut, Apple has sold more than 243 million - making the smartphone arguably the most popular consumer device today, says independent tech analyst Richard Doherty of the Envisioneering Group. By comparison, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said Wednesday that there are 480 million Android phones, double the iPhone population. The difference is that there are many different Android models. The most successful, Samsung's Galaxy line, has sold 15 million units, Doherty says.
Each iPhone introduction has been more successful than the previous one. The iPhone 4S, even though it was introduced in October to less critical acclaim than for previous models, outsold the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 combined, says Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.
He projects that sales for the iPhone 5 will surpass 200 million units by the end of 2013. Gazelle, a website that sells used tech devices, surveyed its customers about a new iPhone, and found 60% lusting after a bigger screen. Some 83% of its 2,600 respondents said they are planning to upgrade.
"There's a huge pent-up demand for the new iPhone," Munster says. "It's the most anticipated upgrade in the history of civilization."
The iPhone's design hasn't been updated dramatically since 2010's iPhone 4, but in the wake of new, shiny and popular models from Samsung and LG, analysts expect a major upgrade to the look of the next-generation iPhone.
Apple declined to comment.
But Doherty and Munster predict the new iPhone will have improved battery performance. One oft-heard complaint is that the iPhone battery can't last a day on a full charge. The iPhone 5 is also likely to be faster, offering the ability to connect to speedy 4G wireless networks; include an improved version of Siri, the voice-driven digital personal assistant; and sport a larger display that won't radically change the look of the iPhone.
Those are some of the features analysts expect from Apple. What would consumers like to see in the new model? USA TODAY reached out to them for their wish lists.
•"The overall design is 'old' looking," says David Squires, senior vice president at a Cheyenne, Wyo., medical facility. He wants "better lines and curves" in the new model.
•"Better texting," says Randy Hernandez, who distributes olive oils in the Los Angeles area. "The letters need to be more accessible, maybe pop up a little bigger on the screen. I'm an adult. I don't text as much as kids, but improved texting would be really great."
•High school student Tasia Vlahakis of Redondo Beach, Calif., wants an iPhone with more punch. "To load faster," she says. "Sometimes it loads really slowly." Chimes in twin sister Randie: "It gets kind of annoying."
•Stevee Barr, a Hermosa Beach, Calif., recruiter, seeks durability. She dropped her iPhone in July and the screen shattered. "Maybe a phone that doesn't crack?" she says. "I can't see anything on this iPhone."