Apparent next-gen iPhone: front-facing camera, better battery

Apple iPhone 3GA purported semi-functional prototype of the next-generation iPhone hardware, expected to be launched this June, has popped up recently online. Over the weekend, Engadget published several photos of the device sent from an anonymous source, though Gizmodo has apparently had the device in its possession for the past week. According to Gizmodo's analysis, if this prototype is close to what Apple plans to reveal this summer, it will indeed be the "A+ update" Jobs promised employees at a town hall meeting earlier this year.

The device in question seems quite sleek, with a thinner, flat casing, compared to the iPhone 3G or 3GS. Though the device won't boot—Gizmodo's source says that it ran a version of iPhone OS 4.0 for a short while until Apple ostensibly used the remote wipe feature—the "Connect to iTunes" restore screen seems to indicate that the device has a very high resolution display (perhaps as high as the rumored 960 x 640 resolution). There are some minor changes to button layout, and the device uses the same type of microSIM that the iPad uses.

If video and photos are your thing, this finally looks to be the iPhone for you. In addition to a higher-resolution camera (rumors vary between 5MP and 8MP), the device also seems to have a larger, improved lens. It also has an LED "flash" for adding a little extra light to those late-night or indoor photos. And video calls and chats may finally become a reality, as the device has a front-facing camera as well.

Inside, the device features smaller internal components than previous generations, and Gizmodo noted that several are labelled as Apple-specific parts. The smaller components allow the case to be thinner, while still accommodating a larger battery—up from 4.51Wh to 5.25Wh. That 16 percent increase may mean a longer runtime if the new internals are more energy efficient, or it could mean about the same runtime as current iPhones given the much higher resolution display.

A number of corroborating points suggest the discovery may be legitimate. Sources for Daring Fireball said that Apple believes a prototype is missing and it is trying to get it back. Also, regarding the back casing material, which appears to be made of something like glass—Apple filed for a patent in 2006 for building "a portable computing device capable of wireless communications" using ceramics, which would be tougher than glass or plastic but transparent to radio signals. Finally, Gizmodo took the device apart, and says that it is filled with internal parts labelled "Apple."

Given these and other factors, the device in question may in fact be an Apple prototype. However, we remain skeptical about how this particular device ever left Apple's campus to begin with. Our understanding is that Apple employees must check out unreleased hardware for testing and return it before leaving campus. The notion that such a device haphazardly ended up on the floor of a bar near Cupertino just doesn't seem likely. However, Daring Fireball's sources indicate that Apple believes that its prototype was stolen, which may account for how the device eventually found its way into Gizmodo's hands.

Source: ars technica

Tags: Apple, iPhone, mobile phones

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