Tech + Lifestyle

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New iPhone/iPod Touch This Summer

The Apple rumor mill is in full swing once again. Reports are popping up all over the internet, mostly about the speculated release of new, 3rd-gen iPhones and iPod Touches. There’s always a chance that we won’t be getting anything more than a minor revision like increased storage, but it’s more likely that we’re looking at a pretty major update. For starters, Apple has made a pre-release of the 3.0 firmware available to iPhone developers. Additionally, AT&T has reduced the pricing on their no-commitment iPhones, perhaps in an attempt to clear out inventory. There are no guarantees with Apple, but I’m guessing that the combination of these two pieces of information means something. Below, in no particular order, are some of the rumored updates, as well as how likely I think they are.

Samsung Omnia HD

Samsung Omnia HD

OLED Screens: A lot of people are screaming that this rumor is fake, that OLED isn’t ready to be deployed in consumer products yet. I’ve got news for them: the new Nokia N85 utilizes a 2.6-inch OLED screen, though resolution is a low 320×240, half that of previous iPhones and iPod Touches. The Samsung Omnia HD has a 3.7 inch OLED screen at 640×320, both larger in size and resolution than current Apple hardware, and the Samsung i7110 and s8300 also use OLED displays. Heck, the Nokia 6251i has been out for two years and sports OLED screens on both the inside and outside of the flip phone, though they are admittedly small and low-res. I’m not saying that Apple has to upgrade to OLED just because a couple of other phones have it, but there’s no reason why they can’t. The earlier announced partnership with LG may have something to do with this, as LG has supposedly been pouring money into OLED research. The technology isn’t quite mature enough for large displays yet, but mobile products are a perfect fit, as they’ll benefit most from the higher clarity and power savings. The downside? Active-matrix OLED screens, which would be the most likely kind to be employed, are difficult to view in sunlight. Bummer. Probability of OLED Screens: 50%

Imagination Technologies

Imagination Technologies PowerVR

New CPU, GPU: Imagination Technologies has released a new version of their PowerVR GPU, which is currently being used in the iPhone and iPod Touch. This new version is called the PowerVR SGX543MP. It’s a bit of a mouthful, but the juicy details are that it now comes in variants from two cores up to sixteen. I’d almost guarantee that the dual-core GPU will be in the new Apple hardware (and perhaps that 16-core version will end up in a future netbook?). As for a new CPU, Apple has quietly raised the clock of the CPU in their newer products; I’m guessing they’ll either continue this trend or throw in a completely new ARM processor. Probability of dual-core GPU and/or new CPU: 90%

AT&T

AT&T

Faster Internet Access: AT&T is working on 3G speed improvements, moving from 3.6Mbps to 7.2Mpbs. If this comes to fruition this summer, there’s a big chance that the upcoming iPhone update will have access. Additionally, the iPhone and iPod Touch may get upgraded Wifi capabilities, moving up to 802.11n. Probability of faster 3G or Wifi: 30%

Improved Battery? Yes Please.

Improved Battery? Yes Please.

Improved Battery: When the current MacBook Pro was released, one of the major new features was improved battery technology, allow the laptop to run for up to eight hours.  It’s being called adaptive charging, though there’s also a chance that the actual chemistry behind the batteries was also altered. If this technology can be applied to the batteries inside the iPhone/iPod Touch, you can bet Apple will do it. Improved battery life would allow for either a better chance of iPhone’s actually making it through the day without needing to recharge, or providing the juice for beefier hardware, or both. Probability of Improved Battery: 65%

Video Recording

Video Recording

Video Capabilities: iPhone users have been drooling over the possibility of video capabilities on their phones for a while now, but Apple hasn’t yet seen fit to give them what they want. It’s possible to use a hacked iPhone to take video, but the quality isn’t very good; that’s probably why Apple hasn’t added it as an official feature yet. One of the recent rumors based on the 3.0 firmware is that we’ll be seeing video in the new iPhone/iPod Touch. It’s based on a MobileMe screen that is quite plainly labeled as Upload Video. It might be a typo, as some are saying… but it might be legitimate. Probability of Video Capabilities: 50%

More Models: As curious developers dig into the code that is the 3.0 firmware, they’ve managed to dig up a couple interesting tidbits, not the least of which are references to products code-named iPhone3,1; iPod3,1; iFPGA; and iProd0,1. It’s pretty obvious that the first two are 3rd-gen variants of what we’ve got available right now, but nobody has any idea what iFPGA and iProd are supposed to be. Chances are they refer to products in development that aren’t yet ready for release, but it’s possible that they’ll be releasing at the same time as the iPhone and iPod Touch updates. Look for the usual suspects if this occurs: a lower-end iPhone (iPhone Nano?) to complement the existing line, the much-rumored Apple Netbook, or something completely different. Probability of new products in addition to the expected updates: 15%

Conclusion: For me what’s exciting about this is that several of these updates just make sense together. OLED screens use less energy than LCDs; better battery tech would means more energy to use; new CPU+GPUs would use the energy saved, but allow for great new capabilities like video recording, enabling background tasks, better graphics for games, etc. Anything else would be icing on the cake, really (like the new features in the 3.0 firmware). The combination would result in a product that can do more with less energy overall, and can do those things for >= battery life on current models. When Apple chooses to publicize their updates, they tend to do so in a big way. New screens, chips, and battery tech would fit the bill.

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March 24, 2009 - Posted by | Tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. But as we all know, unlocked Japanese phones with Sony Bravia screens kick all sorts of Apple ass. I love my Mac, I love my iPod touch, but I have a feeling all of those will leave me for a moment when I step into Akihabara for the first time…

    Comment by Zach | March 24, 2009 | Reply

  2. Oh, Akihabara, how I lust after thee…

    Seriously though, if you’ve got 800+ to drop on a phone, more power to you. I’ll be sticking with subsidized hardware for now, thanks.

    Comment by Brian | March 25, 2009 | Reply

  3. It all sounds very interesting and Apple are doing a great thing by letting us all get excited earlier as usual.
    I hope we see OLED screens as it will make a change from just simple updates to an already cool phone.

    Personally i would love to see / expect the 3rd Gen iPhone to be smaller than the current 3G phone and be very similar in size to the 2nd gen touch but probaby just a little fatter but smaller in height!!!

    It keeps on getting better for iPhone / Touch users, can’t wait for the new phones.

    Lets hope they are free as an update for existing users in the UK!!

    Comment by Andy Watson | March 25, 2009 | Reply


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