What to expect from Apple’s new iPhone

With just one day left until Apple chief executive Steve Jobs takes the stage at the annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference, analysts are convinced tomorrow’s keynote will see the announcement of a fourth-generation iPhone.

The conference is the now-traditional launching pad for new iPhone hardware, and several leaks over the past few months indicate Apple is set to release the fourth version of the smartphone, with some significant changes.

But it may be a bittersweet day for Apple. While the company has traditionally relied on secrecy to build up hype, a major leak in which a prototype iPhone was lost has killed a lot of the anticipation – it could be about to announce a phone the entire tech industry has already seen.

The incident involved popular tech blog Gizmodo, which managed to get its hands on a prototype iPhone after an Apple engineer left it in a bar. The site posted comprehensive pictures and videos of the hardware, even though it wasn’t fully functional.

The company confirmed the prototype was genuine, and requested it be returned – leaving little room for surprise confirmations at tomorrow’s keynote.

Gizmodo has also reported it will no longer be able to attend tomorrow’s keynote, despite having attended in previous years.

The conference is also expected to see some updates for the company’s iTunes software, a launch date for the iPhone OS 4.0 and possibly even a new version of the Apple TV set-top box, but a new iPhone is likely to be the most prominent announcement of the day.

Apple surely has a few surprises still in store, but here are the things we know for sure about the next iPhone.

A new look

The casing for the iPhone hasn’t changed much over the past three years, but pictures from Apple.pro indicate the fourth generation will finally receive an update.


The new iPhone hardware is thick, instead of curved like previous generations. The edges are rounded off, with the volume, screen lock and “silent” buttons now thicker and more pronounced.


New leaks also show the iPhone will come in the traditional two colours of black and white, but the pictures also show the entire base plate will be covered in these colours – not just the back casing.

New screen

The new screen on the iPhone is roughly the same size as previous generations, but a higher resolution is now expected. This should allow developers to update their graphics, which will be especially important for game developers.

MoGeneration chief executive Keith Ahern also says the move to a higher-resolution screen makes sense as Apple intends to move the iBooks Store to the iPhone, and reading text on the current resolution can become tiresome.

A recent rumour suggested the gadget could even be called the “iPhone HD”, but this was debunked early today. Nevertheless, a higher-resolution display is almost certainly a priority for Apple.


The new iPhone is also expected to come with a flash. This would make up for the unusually low-resolution camera, although that’s likely to receive an update as well.


Front-facing camera

All the leaks indicate this version of the iPhone will have a front-facing camera, a feature which has been requested by tech fans ever since the original gadget was introduced three years ago.

The main use for this type of hardware would be videoconferencing. With the popularity of Skype’s iPhone app, and other types of video chat-based software, Apple may want to get in on the action. Some analysts suggest a partnership with Skype, or another VoIP provider, would make sense – but so far no confirmation of any such deal has emerged.

When Apple introduces a new feature, they tend to brag they are the “best” at it. If video chat is included in the next iPhone, it’s sure to come alongside a comprehensive piece of software on the phone itself.


Gizmodo reported the prototype iPhone was extremely fast and responsive. Additionally, the person who found the gadget in a San Francisco bar said it was running a piece of software he had never seen.

This was most likely the upcoming iPhone OS 4.0, which will upgrade eligible iPhones to include multitasking support.


But it is also likely the new iPhone will have some internal hardware improvements. A faster processor and more memory could mean improved responsiveness and battery life, while speedier computing power means developers will be able to create more powerful software.

Gizmodo also reported the new battery takes up roughly 50% of the phone’s internal casing – about 19% bigger than the iPhone 3GS battery.


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