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A Tale of Two Touchscreen Smartphone Rumors: The iPhone 5 And HP’s WebOS Clone

Two intriguing rumors have popped up at almost the same time: A number of photos of an assumed iPod Touch that has no physical home button, hinting at the iPhone 5, and a keypad-less HP device that could be the webOS clone of Apple’s invention.

rumor-webos-stingray

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Two intriguing rumors have popped up at almost the same time: A number of photos of an assumed iPod Touch that has no physical home button, hinting at the iPhone 5, and a keypad-less HP device that could be the webOS clone of Apple’s invention.

Website PreCentral, which secured early images of the Verizon Pre 3, has published images of what seems to be a keyboard-less Pre smartphone, with a screen slightly larger than earlier Pre devices and what seems to be a front-facing camera set off-center at the top of the phone. According to earlier leaked data, the device could be codenamed the Stingray (the Pre 3 was codenamed Mantaray). Little to nothing else is known about the leaked device but it’s speculated that it could have a 480 by 800 pixel display, and from the photos it looks slimmer than the earlier Pres.

WebOS fanatics will be delighted at the prospect that HP has finally evolved the HP design into something new–the first phones based on Palm’s expertise weren’t particularly revolutionary. But critics will consider that the slate-format device is, like many Android units on the scene at the moment, merely borrowing (as closely as possible) the design of the iPhone. By issuing a phone that has all of the webOS goodness but ditches the Pre’s signature keyboard, HP’s playing a dangerous game that risks the Pre’s differentiating qualities in a crowded market.

Meanwhile, several other leaked images popped up yesterday of a purported late-version prototype of a next-generation iPod Touch. The device is almost certainly in exactly this stage of development right now, assuming Apple keeps its normal iPod refresh schedule, and though the 128GB storage capacity seems improbable it does tally with the size of another leaked prototype–an iPhone 4 with 64GB on board. The most interesting thing revealed in the leaked images is that the device lacks a physical home button–instead it seems to have the same icon in the same location, but relies on an extension of the capacitive touchscreen sensor instead. This is a rumor we’ve heard for some time, but it has more interesting implications: Usually the iPod copies the design themes of the iPhone, so if the leaked image proves accurate we could assume the iPhone will lack a physical button too. This tweak may also line-up with hints the iPhone 5 will have a similar format to the iPhone 4, but a bigger display–leaving less space for a physical button.

Mere details of rumored future phones? Yes. But we’ve heard precious little from HP about its plans for webOS phones and they’re absolutely crucial to HP’s future phone market plans…and Apple, well, if you have any idea what their leak strategy is (outside of leaving phones in bars) then drop me a line. 

To read more news like this follow Fast Company on Twitter. Or Tweet with Kit Eaton himself.

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About the author

I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise. I've also got a PhD, and worked in such roles as professional scientist and theater technician...thankfully avoiding jobs like bodyguard and chicken shed-cleaner (bonus points if you get that reference!)

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