Next-gen iPhone rumors heating up, could possibly be “iPhone HD”

It's been extremely quiet on the iPhone front lately, but with the iPad set to land this weekend, that's understandable. Of course, we're coming up fast on that typical one-year refresh cycle that Apple seems to adore, with the iPhone 3GS at a ripe old age of about 9 months or so. For most users who strictly adhere to their normal two-year mobile contracts, it's not even time to start thinking about a new iPhone, but not for us gadget geeks.

Luckily for we who drop our coin at the sight of new smartphones, the iPhone chatter is starting to amp up, and it's about time. The Wall Street Journal got things started with some fairly vague reports that Apple would be releasing a new version of the iPhone sometime this summer, along with a companion CDMA version that would supposedly finally land at Verizon's doorstep later this year. Both models would be thinner and feature faster processors than the current lineup. In other news, it has been found that people love the iPhone more than that one doctor who never agrees with the other nine of his peers.

As the WSJ states the obvious roadmap that we have not only heard but just commonly expect, a few other sources chimed in with their respective bits of rumor, some of which sound about right to keep Apple two steps ahead of the pack.

While AT&T has gotten somewhat of a bad rap for their slow rate of network expansion, which would have been an issue for any of the major carriers suddenly taking on millions of new bandwidth-hungry customers, adding Verizon to the mix could be a huge blow to Android. If the plans for a CDMA iPhone do go through, look for Pegatron Technology Corp, a subsidiary of ASUSTeK Computer, Inc., to handle the manufacturing chores, while Hon Hai Precision will continue to churn out the GSM models.

As for those other rumors that have a little more bite to them, John Gruber of Daring Fireball, who has a pretty accurate track record when it comes to Apple predictions and knowledge, ran off a list of specs that is interesting, to say the least. First, the resolution will double to an odd 960×640, which would clearly vault ahead of the top-end 800×480 that many Android handsets use today. The processor will be based on the same Apple A4 system-on-a-chip in the iPad and a second front-facing camera will sprout, as will an enhanced back camera and true multitasking in iPhone OS 4.

Over at Engadget, they're already insisting the "HD" moniker will be attached to the name, and given the specs of the screen, it would be hard to argue. As if waiting for the Dell Mini 5 and Sprint EVO 4G wasn't excruciating enough, it looks like we'll have to wait until June 22nd for an announcement from Apple, with the phone probably arriving in the typical 45- to 60-day time period following.

A few weeks back, I mentioned to Jenn what I thought the next-gen iPhone would look like, and it started with the same unibody design as the iPad. For the screen, I expect it to stay the same size, but the resolution will increase from HVGA (320×480) to a standard VGA (640×480). Moving on, 802.11n will be the norm, while 64GB would be the new top-end capacity. The processor will be an underclocked A4 running at 800MHz, and the battery will be slightly larger to compensate for the new specs. While it might not make the cut for the 4th-gen model, I expect the Home button to eventually become a capacitive touch affair.

Hopefully we'll know before long what Apple has planned, but I have a feeling it's going to be right in the middle of what everyone expects. The physical styling needs to be refreshed because the whole plastic-with-chrome-ring theme is getting a bit tired when compared to the Nexus One and HTC HD2, which both look much better, in my opinion. The OS could use some tweaking, maybe picking up a few pointers here and there from Android 2.1, and the camera definitely needs to be brought up to 2010 specs with a higher res and an LED flash.

So now that you've heard what the possibilities are, what would you like to see in the new iPhone? Those of you that cringe at the sight of anything Apple, please refrain from wishing a terrible catastrophe upon 1 Infinite Loop, while those of you who currently enjoy your iPhone, chime in with your wishlist. For those that use multiple platforms, like Jenn and myself, are there some features that you would like to see Apple "borrow" for iPhone OS 4?

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Chris King

Chris King is a former contributing editor at Pocketables.

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13 thoughts on “Next-gen iPhone rumors heating up, could possibly be “iPhone HD”

  • Being “HD” will be useless wih a 3.5″ screen. Screen needs to be atleast 4″. A4 CPU will be a beast on a phone, combined with the iPhone 4.0. Share apps with it’s big brother (iPad) and we’re talking competition in here. I agree that the resolution is odd. Double 960×640 will give us 1920×1280. Notice that it’s close to the HD resolution of 1080P. I can understand that coz they made iPad 4:3 to accomodate a better ebook reading experience.

    Any which way, I only want to see the iPhone with 4″ and above screen. Leave the iPod touch the same size if they want. Coz if they make the iPod touch bigger, It will directly affect the sales of the iPad since everyone is already complaining about it’s just a giant iPod touch. it will also just make the obvious, More obvious.

  • At least 3.7″ and a camera flash. The amazing processor I take for granted as happening. Then I will buy one.

  • CPU Bump.

    Front facing camera for skype.

    64 gb or more of memory.

    wifi synch

    lcd projector/external monitor hook up.

    function as usb mass storage

  • Have there already been comparisons between the Cortex A8, Snapdragon, and Apple’s A4?

    I want to see a bigger screen, refreshed design, and better camera (don’t care about front-facing one). Sounds doable to me. A higher resolution is certainly necessary to stay competitive, but it will only be useful for TV output to me. All the other high-res phones rely on zooming in the browser so the extra res doesn’t make that much of a difference there since people are still zooming. And actually, the way the iPhone currently displays the full page of a website is pretty well done in that the text is still readable in some cases without zooming. On the HD2 and Nexus, I usually have to zoom to read anything. I still want the new iPhone to have a higher resolution but I guess I don’t really know why. O.o

  • There is no comparison on the CPU’s yet esp. with A4 since the creation of it is really a secret. But some experts say that it is prolly based on Cortex A9 which is better than A8. Best of it is that Apple optimized it to work perfectly with iPads OS (hence the inhouse CPU). Imagine them saying that a 9.7″ screen can play videos straight for 10 hrs. That is really saying something. A smaller screen cannot even do that.

  • I am leaning towards A9 since it made more sense to me. June of 09 when the rumored A9 will be on the next gen iPhones after the 3GS. According to this article, It will be available sometime in 2010.

    Now since iPad came out first, This article pointed to that first article.

    A9’s have multiple cores, Which prolly made that iPad UI so fluid. I would like to think it has A9. But we will find out soon once the iPad is dissected.

  • One more thing about the A8, This video is the comparison between 3GS and N1’s 3D engine. You will notice the significant decline of frame rate when adding moving characters on the iPhone. And that is just HVGA. Imagine the same CPU with a more intense graphics and a much higher resolution of the iPad. A8 will crawl. If Apple did put an A8 on the iPad, That will be a terrible mistake.

  • Again, this is just last I read, but I was under the impression that Cortex A9 wouldn’t be ready for mass production until Q3-Q4.

    Nvidia saying Q3 with Tegra2, TI is saying Q4 with OMAP4, and last I read from ARM themselves, which admittedly was over 6 months ago, they expected Q4.

    For the record though, there is a single-core variant of the A9. I don’t know any manufacturer that’s saying they’ll be using it, but it is possible. Technically the dual-core version is called the Cortex A9-MPCore.

    I’d love to hear more information on Apple’s A4 CPU when the iPad is actually released though, even though I’m not interested in the least in the actual product.

    If the iPad theoretically even used the single-core variant of the A9 though, it’s an out-of-order CPU, as compared to the in-order A8, so even that would be orders of magnitude better, from my understanding of things.

    Hopefully we’ll hear more, though I doubt it.

  • Just to respond to this last part too, the Snapdragon in the N1 is actually based on the A8. The GPU part of the chip can vary depending on whether it’s TI/OMAP3, Snapdragon, or the other manufacturers’ versions.

    Similarly, the A9 will be used with a variety of different GPU solutions. Nvidia’s Tegra2 will use the A9 with their own GPU solution, TI’s OMAP4 will use a PowerVR SGX 540 GPU, and so on and so forth.

  • I want to make something clear here. Snapdragons are not based on A8’s. They are just similar. They are actually based on Arm7.

  • Snapdragon is based on the A8, though it’s a modified version. Basically when the CPUs are designed by ARM, the companies can decide to use them as-is, or modify the design to any extent they want.

    The OMAP3 is an example of a solution that uses it as-is. With the Snapdragon, Qualcomm modified it quite a bit.

    To quote Anandtech from its 3GS review: “For the most part, ARM’s licensees don’t modify the design much at all. There are a few exceptions (e.g. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Cortex A8), but usually the only things that will differ between chips are clock speeds and cache sizes.”

    It’s possible the sources I’ve read that at could be wrong, but I’ve seen it multiple places and I tend to trust Anandtech especially on this sort of stuff.


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