There has been an incredible number of rumours on the upcoming 3G iPhone, but little proper analysis of the likely component choices, their technical specifications, and their consequences on the end-product. We hope to fill in that gap with this article, and deliver some useful information to gadget enthusiasts, hardcore techies, financial analysts and investors by doing so.
It is necessary to begin by looking at the wider dynamics of hardware development at Apple. The mobile phone industry is well-known for moving quickly in terms of new handset product development; what isn’t so well-known, however, is just how slowly it moves compared to Apple. Historically, the company hasn’t been on the leading edge in terms of feature sets or raw performance; however, this is more by choice than need as Apple’s lead times are amongst the shortest in the industry.
Component choices often seem to be finalised 6 months or less before the product’s mass availability, such as in the case of the PortalPlayer design loss in 2006 and Wolfson’s this year. As we will see shortly, the 3G iPhone is in the same situation with at least one of its possible wireless chips as it only started sampling about 9 months ago. That’s quite impressive given that, due to its very nature (including certification procedures), it’s not really possible to move as fast in the mobile phone market.
But ever since the original iPhone, and possibly even slightly before, Apple has had another trick up its sleeve: in-house development of their application processor, allowing for tighter software/hardware integration and even shorter lead times.
First of all, let us remind you of what this article isn’t: a leak. While we do have some non-public information at our disposal, such as in the case of the application processor, what you'll see in the article is educated speculation. Our primary goal is to put together everything that is known and analyse it in much greater detail than previously seen, through our in-depth knowledge of several of the key dynamics.
We also understand that not everyone cares about the gritty details, so we'll begin by a recap of everything you need to know about the 3G iPhone's probably components and why they matter.