As the tablet becomes (apparently) closer and closer to reality, rumor-mongers are turning their attention to the fourth generation iPhone. As Apple has updated the phone every year since it was first introduced in 2007, the expectation is that there will be a new iPhone this summer. Recent rumors have had the so-called iPhone 4G coming in a Verizon-compatible CDMA model in addition to the current UMTS/GSM device, and with a videoconferencing ability, among other guesses. The latest is somewhat unexpected: that the phone will have multi-touch capabilities built into its case, turning the phone into what is essentially a mobile version of the recently released Magic Mouse.
Goldman Sachs analyst Robert Chen said, in an interview with Bloomberg
, that the new iPhone will have a touch-sensitive plastic case and a five-megapixel camera. Chen, touted by Bloomberg as "a member of Asia’s top-ranked technology hardware research team" says this would bring multi-touch and gesture controls on the rear of the iPhone that are like the Magic Mouse's. “Apple’s going to put a lot of innovation, not just on the hardware, but also on the software of the new iPhone,” he said.
The analyst also told Bloomberg that he thinks that the phone will go into production in April in time for a June launch, right on track with Apple's historical schedule: the original iPhone was released in June 2007, with the 3G coming in July of 2008 and followed by the 3GS last June.
Though a back-controlled phone seems counter-intuitive, Apple applied for a patent back in 2006
for what it referred to as an "Electronic Device Having Display and Surrounding Touch Sensitive Bezel for User Interface and Control." The patent showed a dual-sided, touch sensitive device that is all display on the front, with the touch-sensitive back and sides of the device used for the controls. It said that by this method, more of the screen can be used for displaying graphics, with control buttons embedded in the touch surface. In certain contexts, though, where using the sides would be impractical because the user is gripping the device, on-screen buttons would be used.
Though the touch-sensitive case rumor is new, other sources have reported
that Apple is purchasing five-megapixel sensors from a Taiwanese supplier for use in the next-generation iPhone.
image via AppleInsider