NEW UPDATE: Well, maybe they are. Possibly. Who knows. But new evidence suggests they may be after all.
UPDATE: So much for that! Turns out the pictures are of a Japanese counterfeit iPhone and not the iPhone 4G/iPhone HD. Rest easy, Mr. Jobs.
Somewhere in Cupertino, Calif., Steve Jobs is crushing apples with his bare hands.
Alleged images of Apple Inc.’s fourth-generation iPhone have been obtained by tech blog Engadget. The shots depict the top, front, side and rear of a device believed to be the iPhone 4G/iPhone HD, which it’s been speculated will be unveiled this June at Apple’s annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC).
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If the device in question is in fact the next generation of Apple’s wonderphone, the design marks a large departure from the previous iteration. Probably the biggest change is the overall shape of the phone, which moves from rounded edges and a rounded back to sharp edges and a totally flat back, which appears to be made from a glass-like material. The sides of the phone look to be covered in brushed aluminum, and while the vibrate/volume killswitch retains its style, the volume buttons below have changed from a rocker to individual rounded buttons.
Up top, the headphone jack and on/off button remain, but a single line breaks the otherwise continuous strip of aluminum. A similar line breaks the strip of aluminum running down the phone’s side as well.
The photos match shots of a mysterious device posted to TwitPic two months ago. Those photos also offer glimpses at two other angles: First, the side opposite the volume controls, which curiously has what appears to be a SIM card slot, and, squinting, it looks like an additional button may be just below the apparent SIM slot (maybe a dedicated camera launcher?). Second, the bottom, which features the familiar 30-pin socket used on the iPhone, iPad and iPods (save the Shuffle), as well as two openings, similar to the current-generation iPhone’s speaker and microphone openings. However, the openings on this device appear to be larger than that of the iPhone 3G and 3GS.
Additionally, one of the TwitPic shots shows the device with its rear disassembled. Of note is the positioning of the battery, which is skewed to one side. The location appears to be offset by a SIM card tray. The iPhone 3G and 3GS feature lithium-ion batteries placed in the center of the phone, presumably to distribute weight evenly and avoid any unbalance when holding the phone in hand.
Speculation on the specifics for Apple’s iPhone refresh have listed improved screen resolution and a front-facing video camera. Engadget reports the device in these pictures has a front-facing camera, 80 GB of storage, and an unknown but new OS. Further adding credit to the front-facing camera theory are recent discoveries in the developer release of the upcoming iPhone OS 4.0, which make multiple references to an iChat client. iChat is the name for Apple’s instant messaging application on its Mac computers and has been rumored for some time to be coming to the company’s handset. The alleged 80 GB of onboard storage is peculiar, given the current-generation iPhone tops out at 32 GB. Because the iPhone utilizes flash memory (as opposed to a hard disk drive, or HDD), memory bumps occur in multiples of the previous size, i.e. 4,8, 16, 32, which would put the next storage jump at 64 GB. The 80 GB could reveal plans for memory expansion via a micro SD card slot, which could the SIM card-like slot on the side of the device.
Another possibility is the iPhone 4G/iPhone HD will feature an upgraded camera. Traditionally, the SIM card in the iPhone resides in the top of the device. It’s entirely possible the components for the upgraded camera take up more space and forced the SIM card to be moved to the side of the phone. Looking closely, there are tiny pin holes next to each of the two breaks in the aluminum siding. These holes may receive a SIM eject-style device, in the same vein as the current-generation iPhone uses a SIM eject tool to remove the SIM card. Inserting the device into both holes could remove the entire side paneling, allowing access to the SIM card. This would also explain the switching of the volume rocker to a two-button setup.
Another tech blog, Boy Genius Report, received a tip earlier this week claiming AT&T, the only US cell phone carrier for the iPhone, has put a block on employee vacations for the month of June, lending more confidence to the release of the iPhone 4G/iPhone HD that month. This is consistent with past years, when AT&T would prohibit employee vacations in the weeks leading up to and following the iPhone launch.