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Thursday, February 28, 2008, 07:00 am PT (10:00 am ET)

3G iPhone to launch mid-year with Infineon chip - report

Current iPhone baseband supplier Infineon will provide Apple with a new chip solution for its next-generation iPhone, which is expected to launch by mid-year, investment bank UBS said Thursday.

In a research note to clients, global equity research analyst Nicolas Gaudois said his checks indicate that the German chipmaker will provide a "new systems solution" for the new iPhone HSDPA platform, which will include a digital baseband controller, power management unit (PMU), and radio frequency (RF) module.

"We believe this is one of the HSDPA solutions design wins management referred to as being due to ramp in [the second quarter of 2008]," he wrote. "Consistent with these checks, our Apple analyst Ben Reitzes believes that 3G iPhones will be released by mid-year."

Gaudois added that in anticipation of the move towards HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) — the most common 3G service for GSM-based wireless networks — Infineon is ramping down production of the EDGE baseband solution used in the current generation of the iPhone in order to "clean" inventories ahead of the 3G model.

The analyst's mid-year time frame coincides with earlier claims from CNBC reporter Jim Goldman, as well as the general consensus throughout the industry.

It should be noted, however, that Goldman's report on the MacBook Air from the same day fell well short of its mark.