“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…