The hotly anticipated 3G version of the Apple iPhone could be announced as early as this week, an analyst has predicted.

(In fact, our colleagues at MacFormat have just received another mysterious invite from Apple for September 18th)

Rumours are suggesting that a 3G Apple iPhone (with 16GB of memory like the iPod touch) is currently in development. According to EE Times, Will Strauss - a wireless specalist from the Forward Concepts research group - believes that an announcement from Apple could be imminent.

3G iPhone coming soon

Strauss goes on to speculate that Apple will announce a 3G-enabled version of its iPhone at the same time it announces the European operators for the handset. This is likely to happen at the Apple Expo in Paris at the end of the month, if not before. O2 is heavily tipped to be Apple's operator of choice in the UK.

A previous leak has suggested that Apple could go for the high-speed HSDPA 3G protocol rather than UMTS. A T-Mobile advert mistakenly revealed in Germany suggests that a 16GB, 3G-equipped Euro iPhone is a reality and could be ready to buy come mid-November.

Critics in Europe have pounced on the Apple iPhone to slam its lack of 3G capabilities. The current EDGE technology in the US model offers sluggish mobile internet connectivity when the iPhone isn't connected to a Wi-Fi network. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has already stated that EDGE is "good enough, but you wish it was a little faster."