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.
So keep coming back here to find out what's actually happening in the muddled world of the 3G iPhone.
The new 3G iPhone could be available for nothing in the UK through O2, as the operator plans to offer heavy subsidies in a bid to win more customers.
The company saw sales of the iPhone climb significantly when it knocked £100 off the price of the 8GB model earlier this year, and looks set to repeat the trick if / when the new iPhone is released.
A Taiwanese camera lens maker is banking on boom times ahead - thanks an to order it's received from Apple for the 'second version' of the iPhone.
Largen Precision Co. 'projects sales of the products to reach up to 5 million in June and July', according to Taiwanese economic news site CENS.com
iPhone owners are are used to having deep pockets - but it turns out they may need longer and wider ones too. That's because the boss of Intel Germany reckons that a future iPhone will have a much bigger display. Oh and it'll also be sporting Intel's ultra-mobile Atom CPU inside it too.
In perhaps the biggest clue yet that the 3G iPhone is coming to the UK, Telefónica Europe chief executive Matthew Key said his company and Apple would make an announcement in the “coming weeks.”
This is likely to be regarding the new generation of the Apple device, especially as Steve Jobs just happens to be giving a keynote speech at the Apple WWDC next month.
When asked for specifics on when the 3G iPhone will be available, he said: “Asked exactly when the 3G phone will be available he said: "That's more of a question for Apple ... but over the coming weeks we will do a joint announcement with Apple as Telefónica Group."
The news from the groove (or this Google translated macprime.ch site) is the 3G iPhone is going to hit the shops in June this year, with a variety of flavours to choose from.
The main talking point is the appearance of the 32GB version, and it will be available in white, silver and black.
However the 16GB version, which will become the entry level iPhone, is only available in black, thus inciting those fashion conscious Apple lovers to fork out a bit more to be the most Jobs-ilicious.
The 16GB will be cost CHF 659 (£322), and the 32GB version - which will mirror the capacity of the top-level iPod Touch - coming in at CHF 699 (£390), when taken with two year contracts.
“A team of Apple executives, led by CEO Steve Jobs, will kick off the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) with a keynote address” according to Apple, lending more credence to the rumour the 3G iPhone will be announced.
The WWDC, which begins on the 9 June in San Francisco, has long been tipped as the date when the evolution of the iPhone will be announced, and Jobs’ presence there means it is now more than likely.
The US carrier of the iPhone, AT&T, has started showing the ‘iPhone Black’ alongside the regular model, sparking rumours it is ramping up for the release of the 3G iPhone.
AT&T have moved to dispel the growing tide of opinion, simply saying the extra option was designed to distinguish between the various memory capacities of the models, which makes very little sense to be honest (black=4GB/8GB/16GB? What?)
The story so far
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.
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…