As we get closer to the new iPhone, the rumors get hotter (even hotter than our last round-up). Here are the more interesting stories, one of which is a doozy.
Chinese iPhone in July, Along with the Rest of the World?
A Chinese release for Apple's favorite toy has been expected ages, and news about it has surfaced and sunk before. The main hang-ups were the actual details of the contract with China Mobile, which seems to have been angling for some control over the Chinese App Store and maybe a cut of the profits. That's something Apple's reluctant to give up, given the store's a cash-cow, and the fact it uses the same business model everywhere else. Those issues seem to have been resolved, as Cens.com is reporting a Chinese iPhone is due in July. It's likely to be specialized hardware, tailored for China's network only, and with limited connectivity options due to China Mobile's concerns about how owners may use their iPhones. It is, most probably, the "China Brick" referred to in obscure bits of code inside the iPhone 3.0 firmware. And if it's due in July, then the other versions should be too.
Headphone Socket to Move? Probably not
Some fresh images, purporting to be of the new iPhone have leaked out. They have the general shape of the existing iPhone 3G, which it's rumored the new devices will closely match. But commenters have questioned the legitimacy of the photos, which seem to show the device running the older iPhone firmware. Is it a promo slip-up by Apple? More likely it's a fake. But the images do have one notable feature—the headphone socket has been relocated to the base of the phone. To many, that makes perfect sense, as it matches the orientation which you normally slide the phone into your pocket after peeping at its screen. It's also exactly the kind of small design change Apple would make in order to distinguish the phone from its predecessors.
4GB, 8GB, 16GB and 32GB iPhones Get Approval
Engadget heard from an insider that iPhones in four capacities just got approved by the PCS Type Review Certification Board, a regulatory body used by carriers like AT&T to certify handsets. It's surprising news, given that an expansion to 16GB and 32GB was an obvious move for Apple—but the retention of the 8GB version and a new 4GB size is a shock. The only reason for Apple to introduce a 4GB model would be to diversify the price bracket.
4GB iPhone for Just $99, Front-facing Camera
A leaked promotion slide from Canadian cellphone operator Fido makes much more sense in the light of the PCS news above. It shows a 4GB new iPhone, black front bezel and all, for a staggeringly low $99 (Canadian—roughly $90 U.S.) Now that's what you call a diversified price bracket. If true, it'll destroy in one swoop the main criticism leveled at the iPhone—a high unit price. The reduced storage size is odd, though, given the media player and app status of the phone. Maybe Apple wants to get it into kid's hands, and play-up the mobile gaming angle?
Much more interesting is that the slide also makes reference to "Video Calling (iChat)." That implies the new devices will have proper iChat integration. and, more significantly, that there's a front-facing camera. Which also implies 3G video calling, and video Skype options.
These are just rumors. But if they turn out to be true... Will the iPhone relinquish its King of Smartphone crown, and become Emperor of All Mobiles instead?