While they may not reveal revolutionary changes, some graphic elements found deep in the iPhone SDK beta 5 do add to the mounting pile of evidence indicating Apple (s aapl) is indeed planning an iPhone hardware update in the near future. The images in question are icons associated with “iPhone2,1”, which is internal Apple code for the next significant revision of the device.
The icons in question show three-quarter views of the new hardware, though if you compare them with the icons for the existing iPhone 3G, it becomes immediately apparent that little to no difference exists between the two. This could mean one of two things: Either the new iPhone will be the same, superficially, as its predecessor, or Apple is merely using placeholder icons in order to mislead inquisitive souls or just hasn’t had the graphics department create new icons yet.
Since Apple is fond of design refreshes, I’m betting these icons are just placeholders and not accurate representations of what the next-generation device will look like. If rumors prove to be true, the upcoming iPhone will have a rubberized backing and lose the mirrored frame for the faceplate, which would call for quite a different icon indeed.
Alternatively, the new icons could also accurately reflect changes that are upcoming, since they are very small, and subtle detail changes are hard to identify. As MacRumors rightly points out, the iPhone 3G’s icon was outed prior to the device’s release in a similar manner last year. I guess we’ll just have to squint really hard between now and June 8 and try to attach significance to minor differences in the icon images, as is standard among Apple-watchers.