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Thursday, March 19, 2009, 02:50 pm PT (05:50 pm ET)

iPhone 3.0 listings show four all-new iPhone, iPod touch models

Tucked within Apple's iPhone 3.0 beta firmware are hardware strings that mention not one but two unreleased iPhone models as well as similar changes in store for the iPod touch.

An exploration of device strings by the same source that correctly leaked MMS and tethering ahead of Apple's iPhone 3.0 preview event now finds that there are at least four and as many as six new devices in the pipeline that would share OS X iPhone as their foundation.

Again speaking to Boy Genius, the insider notes that the previously discovered iPhone 2,1 has been joined by iPhone 3,1 as well as iPod 2,2 and iPod 3,1. As Apple always uses the first number in these device identifiers to refer to major revisions, the naming schemes allude to a second major reworking of the iPhone in testing at Apple as well as a minor revision of the current iPod touch and a third-generation overhaul.

The original iPhone shows in these listings as iPhone 1,1, while the iPhone 3G appears as iPhone 1,2 — a minor upgrade to an existing design. The first- and second-generation iPod touch show as 1,1 and 2,1 respectively.

What an additional iPhone revision would involve isn't clear. Despite persistent claims of a smaller and lower-cost iPhone, Apple has publicly embraced a one-size-fits-all approach and has shot down rumors when brought up by one analyst in its latest fiscal results conference call.

Potentially more intriguing are two new devices that don't fit into either the iPhone or iPod categories. One, referred to as iProd 0,1, is a complete mystery and suggests an early prototype rather than a finished device. An iFPGA device doesn't include any model revision numbers but appears to reference a field-programmable gate array, or a chip whose functions can be reprogrammed either by the user or the manufacturer after it's created.

It's unclear whether these are actual placeholders for future products, references to individual components for other devices, or else serve an entirely different purpose. However, the sudden ballooning of device string entries hints that iPhone 3.0 may be used as the foundation for a much larger platform expansion rather than a simple upgrade for Apple's existing handhelds.