The Evidence for a 3G iPhone... June 2008

There's been so much talk about the possibility of the "3G" iPhone, it can be hard to keep up with all the rumors. First of all, "3G" technology promises broadband-like speeds over wireless cellular networks. At present, the iPhone only offers 2.5G (EDGE) speeds, which means your web pages and email download at relatively slower speeds.

It's been no secret that the iPhone will eventually adopt 3G technology. When Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone in January 2007, he specifically said (video clip) that Apple plans on making "3G phones and all sorts of amazing things in the future". The major issue that prevented Apple from incorporating 3G into the first iPhone was excessive power consumption from 3G chipsets:

We cared a lot about battery life and we cared a lot about physical size. Down the road, I'm sure some of those tradeoffs will become more favorable towards 3G but as of now we think we made a pretty good doggone decision.

Some newly announced 3G chipsets promise to address these power issues and AT&T's CEO has even said outright that the 3G iPhone is coming in 2008.

When is it coming?

The earliest evidence of the 3G iPhone came from Goldman Sachs Analysts who predicted that the iPhone would see two updates in 2008. The first minor update was predicted to be a Flash memory upgrade in the 1st half of the year. This came true in February with the release of the 16GB iPhone.

The second revision was described as "major" and was predicted to include 3G, possibly a different look, and arrive in the 2nd half of 2008. A number of reports this week appears to confirm this prediction. Hon Hai has reportedly won the contract to build Apple's next iPhone and Bank of America sources suggest that the 3G iPhone will begin limited production in May with a ramp up in June. Spanish paper Cinco Dias suggests that the 3G iPhone could debut in the Spanish market as early as May.

Finally, there was news this week that Apple has acquired trademark rights to use the name "iPhone" in Japan -- a country that interestingly has a 3G network but no EDGE network.

What do I do now?

A June release for the next iPhone falls conveniently close to Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference which takes place from June 9-13th this year. It's possible that Apple will replace the existing iPhone with the 3G version, but it's also conceivable that the 3G version will be a high-end model, leaving the existing 2.5G iPhone in place at a cheaper price point.

Due to the mounting evidence for the 3G iPhone, we've updated our Buyers Guide to recommend against buying an iPhone at this time unless you absolutely need it. Obviously, individual circumstances may vary, but if you are an average consumer looking for the best value for the money, we recommend waiting, but understand the new version could still be (at least) 3 months off.

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