Rumor Round-Up: Everything We’ve Heard About the Next iPhone


This month, the Apple rumor volcano erupted with purported details of the next-generation iPhone. Various blogs claim receiving tips from informed sources about features in the highly anticipated handset, such as a magnetometer (digital compass), a video camera and a speedier processor.

Here, we round up every rumor that’s appeared about Apple’s next iPhone, which many are betting will be announced June 8 at the Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco. We’re also accompanying each rumor with a percentage rating for its probability to be true, as well as our analysis.

When WWDC arrives, we’ll present a report card showing which publications were correct and which were wrong. And of course, we’ll grade ourselves on our predictions, too.

With that said, here’s everything we’ve heard about the next iPhone:

Speedier processor and more RAM
Source: Daring Fireball; Apple iPhone Apps; MacRumors; WeiPhone
Probability: 95%
This is pretty obvious: Any hardware upgrade typically receives a performance boost. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber has historically been one of the most accurate with Apple rumors, and his sources tell him the next iPhone will have a 600MHz processor (up from 400MHz). That would make the next iPhone 1.5 times as fast as the current one. Also, a recent job listing reveals that Apple is hiring a low-level iPhone programmer who is familiar with the ARMv7 Cortex mobile processor, which is much faster than the current iPhone’s ARMv6-based chip. As for memory, we’d expect Apple to increase RAM to complement the processor upgrade.

Magnetometer (digital compass)
Source: The Boy Genius Report; Daring Fireball; WeiPhone
Probability: 90%
A large amount of evidence indicates that the next iPhone will feature a magnetometer, a 3-axis compass that will greatly enhance its global positioning capabilities. Developers testing the iPhone 3.0 beta have found system files and screenshots referring to a magnetometer, which suggests the hardware feature will appear in the next iPhone.

Same industrial design as previous models
Source: WeiPhone; Daring Fireball
Probability: 90%
All the probable rumors suggest this will be an incremental upgrade, so we would not expect Apple to change much in the industrial design. That would mean the screen resolution should remain the same. Also, Apple would hesitate to change much about the overall form factor, as it would require iPhone application developers to dramatically change their apps just for the new phone.

Storage options increased: 16GB and 32GB
Source: Daring Fireball; Apple iPhone Apps
Probability: 80%
The current iPhones come in two models: 8GB and 16GB. Upping the storage to 16GB and 32GB is a small, incremental upgrade, which would allow Apple to maintain the price points for the handset.

$200 and $300 price points to be maintained
Source: Daring Fireball; Apple iPhone Apps
Probability: 75%
Apple’s iPhone 3G was a tremendous success, selling over 10 million units in 2008. Apple relies on hardware upgrades to boost sales numbers, and given the solid performance of the previous iPhone, the company has no strong incentive to reduce the handset’s costs.

Video-recording and editing capabilities
Source: Engadget; MacRumors; BusinessWeek
Probability: 70%
Some developers have published screen captures of a video interface discovered in iPhone 3.0 beta. A major complaint about the current iPhone is its inability to record video, so it would be surprising if Apple didn’t deliver this feature. We would give this rumor a higher rating if there were evidence of video-editing capabilities. Currently, we haven’t seen any.

Sleeker design
Source: Apple iPhone Apps
Probability: 60%
No solid evidence of this, but the traditional evolution of Apple products is they get slimmer and sleeker.

1.5 times the battery life of the current models
Probability: 60%
Source: Apple iPhone Apps
A major complaint about the iPhone 3G is its meager battery life. Therefore, Apple will most likely claim the next iPhone has improved battery life. We’ll have to test the next iPhone’s battery life to see if Apple’s claims are true.

OLED screen
Source: Apple iPhone Apps; Register Hardware
Probability: 20%
An obscure iPhone blog reported a rumor that the next iPhone will feature an OLED screen. However, this is unlikely as OLEDs are expensive and would likely drive the iPhone’s price points higher. Evidence of this feature is scant.

Glowing Apple logo on the back
Probability: 20%
Source: Apple iPhone Apps
Unnecessary. Rumor comes from an obscure blog with little cred.

Discontinuation of the metal band surrounding the edge of the device
Probability: 20%
Source: Apple iPhone Apps
No evidence of this. We’re not sure why Apple would choose to remove this band.

Rubber-tread backing
Probability: 15%
Source: Apple iPhone Apps
Unlikely, as it would be ugly, and Apple likes pretty things. Also, the rumor comes from the same obscure blog as the one above.

Built-in FM transmitter
Source: Apple iPhone Apps
Probability: 10%
We see no compelling reason for Apple to put this in the iPhone, as it is not a feature that users have been demanding, and it hasn’t appeared in other iPods.



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