So how about that expected Apple iPhone (s AAPL) update? We know that Apple is holding its annual developer conference in four weeks and it’s a safe bet that new handset hardware will be announced. Today’s rumor might take some of the shine away from an official Apple announcement, mainly because I suspect most of the rumor, if not all of it, is true. It’s just my gut feeling and I’ve been wrong many times before (hey, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad), but most of the rumored new iPhone specifications all make sense.
Storage capacity 0f 32GB: I can’t see why Apple wouldn’t be expanding beyond the current 8GB and 16GB versions that they already offer in today’s iPhone 3G. They already have a 32GB iPod Touch, so this isn’t a stretch by any means. And with “one billion served” from the App Store, folks need more capacity to add applications. I think Apple benefits greatly from more storage capacity in a new iPhone: while we’re filling up our iPhones with software, Apple is filling up the bank account with every purchased download. My 8GB first-gen iPhone is nearly filled up, so 32GB is desirable for me. I think Palm (s PALM) is going to have to get a higher-capacity Pre out the door soon after they launch the initial handset, too. At this point, 8GB simply isn’t enough for a device that’s becoming an application platform.
CPU Speed of 600 MHz: Part of the reason I didn’t upgrade my first iPhone was because there wasn’t enough reason to in the speed department. This 50 percent clock speed boost is about the minimum I’d like to see in the next iPhone. As games and apps become more complex, the device needs more “oomph.” Ideally, I’m hoping for much faster TI (s TXN) OMAP CPU like the Pre will have: the 1GHz mobile processor would be plenty capable for the next two years of my contract.
256MB of RAM: Another case of “more is better,” in my opinion. My current phone with half that amount of RAM is starting to struggle with various apps. It could be that the CPU is taxed, but my money is on memory usage. I’d almost argue that in today’s smartphone market, 256MB of RAM ought to be considered the minimum.
3.2-Megapixel camera with auto-focus: I was never really impressed with the 2-Megapixel phone in my current iPhone, so this would be a welcome step up. The mediocre camera sensor actually never bothered me when I first bought my iPhone, simply because I didn’t use it much. Now, with the rise of social networks and more photo-sharing, I find that I’m using the camera more often. A 5-Megapixel sensor would be even better here, but I could live with 3.2.
Digital compass and FM radio: While I could find use for both of these features, neither is very compelling to me personally. If either (or both) of them don’t find their way in to the next iPhone, I’ll live.
None of these rumored specs are outlandish. In fact, they’re pretty much the minimum we should be expecting. They fit the Apple business model of incremental, but useful upgrades with each new product cycle. The only item I think might be missing in the rumor list is support for AT&T’s (s T) planned 3G network upgrade, which will raise the theoretical maximum download to 7.2Mbps from 3.6Mbps. I anticipate the hardware will support the faster speeds, although the device firmware will likely keep the iPhone at the slower speeds until AT&T gives the green light.
While I didn’t feel the iPhone 3G offered me enough reason to upgrade from my first-gen device, I’m certain to upgrade if these rumored specifications pan out. I already need more storage capacity for media and apps and I want faster “guts” in the device for better performance. A 3G tethering plan would put this over the top for me, so I’m hoping that’s in the cards as well.
Speaking of “cards,” that reminds me of the Palm (s palm) Pre and its multitasking cards (plus its Synergy feature, hardware keyboard, Amazon MP3 integration…and the list goes on). Assuming that I can tether either an iPhone 3G or a Palm Pre for modem use, I’ll likely be dumping my monthly $60 Broadband Access Mobile Broadband plan with Verizon Wireless (s VZ) and getting a Pre as well. I’m just too impressed by the device so far and I have high hopes. The $60 savings from dropping the EV-DO plan will pay for most of my Sprint (s S) plan with the Pre.