Rumors: Next-gen iPhone will have edge-to-edge screen, ‘4G’ name

May 16, 2011
Finance

Now that the release date of the iPhone 5 seems to be set in the common consciousness of people who don’t actually know for sure – September – new rumors are springing to light about Apple’s (AAPL) next smartphone: namely, what the screen will be like and what it’ll be called. In the screen department, […]

Now that the release date of the iPhone 5 seems to be set in the common consciousness of people who don’t actually know for sure – September – new rumors are springing to light about Apple’s (AAPL) next smartphone: namely, what the screen will be like and what it’ll be called.

In the screen department, a new rumor from PC World suggests the next-gen iPhone will have a screen that stretches the width of the front of the phone, going from edge to edge and foregoing the black plastic bezel that surrounds the screen on earlier iPhone versions. The latest piece of evidence comes from a Chinese phone case manufacturer, Kulcase LTD., which is “selling an item under the listing “Newest design crystal case for apple iPhone 5G,” according to the PC World story.

Kulcase has the cases listed on alibaba.com, but it’s tough to tell how legitimate they are. The cases suggest a new spot for the iPhone’s rear camera flash and the edg-to-edge screen, but whether they’re actually based on leaked plans is anybody’s guess.

As PC World points out, the track record of third-party manufacturers with actually forecasting upcoming iOS hardware is sketchy. On the one hand, China’s market for mobile devices is highly competitive, so leaks to happen and sometimes they result in an early look at design through cases such as these. On the other, Apple has been known to change designs at the eleventh hour and throw a monkey wrench into the plans of intrepid but underhanded companies.

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New iPhone needs a name

And speaking of last-minute changes, while an early chance to buy Chinese phone cases could hint at the look of the next-gen iPhone, we might not know what to call it for a while.

Rumors have been kicking around that give a number of names to Apple’s next iPhone. Originally called the iPhone 5 by the Internet at large, which follows the iPhone 4 in logic and counting, we could be looking at two other potential names for the device: the iPhone 4S, and the iPhone 4G.

We heard previously that a version of the iPhone 4 was being passed around to game developers as part of an upcoming push from Apple to amp up the iPhone’s profile as a gaming machine. The device that’s being given to developers so they know how to develop for the upcoming iPhone is called an iPhone 4GS, and in it is basically the same as an iPhone 4, but with the distinction of having the iPad 2’s beefier A5 dual-core processor chip embedded within.

So that’s where the 4S name comes from – it’s possible that a spiffed-up iPhone 4 will hit shelves that’ll look the same, but with significant hardware improvements. It’s also possible that an AT&T (T) marketing gimmick could control the name of the next iPhone.

A story from 9to5Mac suggests that AT&T is really pushing the whole “4G” initiative, so much so that it’s renaming previously not-so-4G phones as “4G.” The standards for what qualifies as a 4G phone are actually pretty low, and AT&T has started rebranding a lot of phones available now that include technology known as High Speed Packet Access, or HSPA, as 4G, even though they’re not necessarily any faster than they were before they had that extra “G” added to the name.

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The iPhone 4 actually has HSPA technology inside as well, but it’s not active. In its recent marketing materials, AT&T has made 14.4 megabits-per-second part of what it considers to be 4G, and that’s the same speed as the iPhone’s internal Qualcomm (QCOM) chip. “Most industry watchers expect the next iPhone to run on some version of the Qualcomm chip that the Verizon (VZ) has which would let it do double radio duty and be operable on all US networks,” the 9to5Mac story says.

The next big thing in mobile is most definitely going to be the battle for 4G, so it wouldn’t be surprising if that marketing made into the iPhone’s presentation.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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