Apple seeded the iOS 6.1 beta 5 for iPhone, iPad, iPad mini and iPod touch to developers of iOS Developer program yesterday. The release contains some minor features, but it includes an internal change as well—iOS now has references to a 128GB device.
This was noticed by @iNeal on Twitter, who pointed out that the “BuildManifest” plist contains a 128GB system partition key. The 128GB partition key is absent on earlier versions of iOS.
When Apple first introduced the iPhone in 2007, it started with a storage capacity of 4GB, which was soon discontinued and replaced with the 8GB model. Since then, Apple has, in every two years, doubled the maximum storage capacity on the iPhone—the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4 had a maximum storage capacity of 32GB, the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5 have a maximum storage capacity of 64GB. Assuming the same trend continues, Apple should release the iPhone 5S with maximum storage of 128GB.
We should be seeing 128GB iDevices soon. iOS 6.1 beta 5 has 128G system partition key in BuildManifest.
— Neal (@iNeal) January 27, 2013
iMore notes that this bump in storage could only be possible if Apple figures out a way to procure double density NAND flash for cheap prices, since the prices of the three variations of the iPhone have historically remained the same generation-over-generation.
What’s particularly interesting about this piece of information, apart from the actual increase in storage, is the timing. Apple could have waited till the early builds of iOS 7 to add provisions for a 128GB iOS device, but it did so now, in iOS 6.1. Along with fresh component leaks that have begun to surface, does this point to a earlier than usual iPhone 5S release?