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Chinese rumor claims 2009 iPhone will be modest upgrade

A forum thread on a Chinese Apple fan site is generating some interest by AppleInsider readers because one commenter claims to have used prototypes of Apple's next-gen iPhone because he purportedly has a friend working at the company's manufacturing partner Foxconn.

The commenter, who goes by the name patapon200, describes the next iPhone as a "repeat" in physical design with many of the changes relating to speed and other less overt upgrades.

Supposedly, the largest changes are increases in clock speed and memory: the roughly 400MHz Samsung ARM processor used in the present-day iPhone 3G will be upgraded to a 600MHz part, he says, while system RAM will be doubled to 256MB. After testing, the tipster maintains that the speed of using the phone has "really improved" versus current models.

The commenter, who posted to one of China's largest iPhone fan sites, also claims that the handset will ship in 16GB and 32GB configurations while echoing earlier rumors of a 3.2-megapixel camera. He adds, however, that the new camera will autofocus. Other claims include an electronic compass to get the phone's heading independent of GPS, per recent rumors.

In his series of posts, the commenter provides an alleged internal model number of the new iPhone, N88, while noting the M68 and N82 model numbers used for earlier iPhones. He also posted a screen capture supposedly taken on the device, showing the 32GB of storage (29.3GB after formatting), iPhone 3.0 firmware, and Apple model number, MB717LL, that doesn't yet exist on the public record. The latest iPhone 3G revisions range only up to MB705LL. No evidence is given of the external model number that drew attention in February.

The commenter expresses disappointment when claiming the screen will still be the familiar 3.5-inch, 480x320 model used in the past. He doesn't provide a timeframe for this alleged new iPhone but claims the hardware was thought to be in a Process Validation Test, or PVT, as of late April; it's unclear what this means, but it may refer to testing assembly shortly before production.

Some aspects of the rumor are dubious enough to call into question at least some of the story. It suggests that the next iPhone will have FM, for example — a technology Apple has left out of all iPhones and iPods to date. The screen capture also makes reference to connecting to an AT&T network as the carrier, though it's not the same revision number seen by most US iPhones, which usually connect to ATT3.1 and not the ATT3.5 mentioned in the screenshot.

The poster makes brief mention of Apple's long-in-development tablet and even gives it an internal model number, K48, but provides few other details besides mentioning a 9.7-inch touchscreen that has surfaced in previous rumors.

AppleInsider isn't sure what to make of these two week-old claims but republishes them for interest's sake.