3G iPhone update - what is actually happening?

The Feedster

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The rumours over the 3G iPhone are coming so thick and fast it’s like living in a milkshake blender (we’ve all got one. Either that or a George Foreman grill).
A keyboard, GPS, 5-megapixel camera, bigger storage space and smaller phones…depending on which paper you read in which country, the 3G iPhone is going to be a dramatically different piece of kit.
Firmware updates have also hinted at big changes to the capability to the iPhone’s next generation, so obviously the theorists have been hard at work (or avoiding actual work, you could say).
However, it could just as easily be nothing more than UMTS / HSDPA 3G connectivity, and the ability to switch it on and off as desired.
The chat is that on 9 June, at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference 2008, there will be some announcement regarding the iPhone from Mr Jobs. The anniversary of the iPhone, on the 29 June, is the date tipped for the 3G iPhone release, but we all know Apple’s penchant for springing a surprise or two.
Web watchers
The main difference between the 2.5G and 3G phones is…well…3G. And that’s something everyone agrees on.
However, despite being desirable for web browsing, the addition of unlimited Wi-Fi to most data tariffs has helped take the edge off that need, though the frustration of a hedgehog-slow EDGE connection is annoying, especially in the low-coverage areas.
If only 3G appears, it might not be enough to push some maybe-buyers over the edge into Apple-y goodness, as mobile web-browsing is surprisingly low on many users’ consumption habits.
Picture…perfect?
The obvious difference between the iPhone and other top-end smartphones is the 2-megapixel camera. Although the business user might not be interested in high-quality snaps from the phone, the iPhone is being pushed to all and sundry, so a better camera would make sense to turn up. The chip rumoured to be used in the new phone can handle up to a 5-megapixel sensor, but one that advanced is unlikely.
The addition of GPS makes perfect sense too, as a geotagging feature would really propel the iPhone into the social networking stratosphere. Plus, Google maps just isn’t the same without a GPS backbone, right?
Where can I get it?
Well, here’s where the rumour mill kicks into overdrive. Taking the UK as a case-in-point, O2 has an exclusive agreement to sell the iPhone. However, UK-based Vodafone has signed a deal to sell the iPhone in 10 other countries.
The rumour, according to Italian paper La Repubblica, is Apple could abandon its revenue sharing deal with carriers, instead moving to the standard ‘we sell you the phone, you subsidise it’ model. It makes sense not to lock it to one operator, as now the phone is now known and desired, so proper competition with the relevant price wars can only be a good thing.
Chris Phin, deputy editor of MacFormat magazine, says: "The latest beta firmware for the iPhone does seem to suggest that there will be the option to turn 3G on and off.
“That makes sense when you think how power-hungry 3G can be, though as some have already suggested, it would be nicer if this was handled automatically, with background mail checking happening over EDGE, only switching to 3G when actively using the web connection such as when surfing in Safari.
"Though a June launch at WWDC would make sense, we're starting to hear murmurings that it could be earlier. It's not unknown for Apple to launch products before big events such as WWDC to keep the focus on the show's big news.
“With supplies with O2 and even Apple surprisingly patchy even now, it's difficult to escape the conclusion that the channel is being cleared out in preparation for a new model."
So we might see a iPhone Nano, a larger capacity memory, or even the much-fabled Mac Tablet - essentially a bigger version of the iPhone with more processing power.
Or Apple could announce it is scrapping the iPhone and moving instead to offering RFID-tagging of dogs. Only time will tell…


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