According to Reuters' anonymous sources, the next iPhone to hit shelves may have a smaller cable interface with just 19 pins instead of the 30 found in traditional cables. The shrunken connector would be a significant change for the company as Apple has relied on its proprietary 30-pin design since 2003. This rumor falls in line with purported design leaks of the iPhone 5 and iPad mini earlier this month which illustrate the move to a smaller connector.
It's worth noting that while 30-pin dock connectors have been standard-issue since the third-gen iPod, some minor electrical changes have affected compatibility along the way. But the real reason for the redesign, according to Reuters, is due to Apple's relocation of the 3.5mm audio jack from the top to the bottom of the device.
The existing dock connector design has been criticized for being bulky and overly complicated. With portable devices becoming thinner and smaller, the timing might be right to ditch it all together and start from scratch. Unfortunately, doing so will almost certainly break compatibility with nearly a decade of genuine and third-party peripherals -- including car stereos -- so the redesign does not come lightly. There is currently no information regarding backwards compatibility with the use of adapters or converters.
In addition to shrinking iPad and iPod connectors, Digitimes reports that industry sources in Taiwan claim that production of the iPhone 5 is already underway. The timing seems right for a timely fall launch. For reference, the iPhone 4S was available for pre-order on October 7, 2011.
With the addition of the dock connector shrink, the next iPhone is conjectured to feature a larger 4-inch display with a movie-friendly 16:9 aspect ratio (previous models are 3:2) and may mark the return of an aluminum back -- a design element not seen since the original iPhone.