iDevice OS 2.2.1 points to “iPhone 2,1” product

According to numerous readers and grapevine-lurkers who’ve looked under the hood of the new 2.2.1 iPhone OS firmware, it contains multiple references to a new iPhone — version “2,1” in the terminology used by Apple in all its operating system/firmware variants — better known to some as the “iPhone Pro.”

Given how soon a new iPhone would have to be introduced for it to make any sense at all to include references & support code inside as minor and early-in-year of a release as 2.2.1….we don’t think that this is a replacement for the 3G model. Rather, it is a complementary model intended to broaden the range of options that iPhone adopters have when they decide to purchase one.

Since the 8GB 3G is already as low as $199, we think that this “iPhone 2.1” (not to be confused with the “2.5G” 1.0 or “3G” 2.0) will instead be a high-end model similar to the iPhone Pro we’ve reported on previously, with some or all of these enhanced features:

*Major overhaul/upgrade of the ARM based system mainboard which handles almost everything but the functions dedicated to the “iPod” and “Phone-Modem” chips which are unto themselves nearly complete system boards….those chips will most likely remain unchanged, but the ARM based mainboard will most likely be upgraded to something similar to, or faster than, the ARM Cortex A8 used in the Palm Pre. Either way, it will be more than twice the performance of the 667MHz-rated, 412MHz-clocked Samsung ARM11 S3C6400 used in current iPhones — or even the 532MHz-clocked version employed by the 2G iPod Touch. Much more on this in an upcoming look at the iPhone Pro!

*Increased on-board SDRAM, and possibly faster memory (DDR?) as well — at least 256MB worth.

*Higher resolution display; possibly slightly larger as well, covering more of the iPhone’s front face and extending its body somewhat to allow for a 16:9 aspect screen with a resolution of 640×360 or 856×480 — or, alternatively, a 3:2/16:10 resolution in the ballpark of 640×400. All of which would be a huge step up from the current 480×320.

*Improved built-in camera with 5-megapixel or higher picture resolution, greatly improved framerates/reduced motion-blur, and full support for 30-frame-per-second video recording at 640×480 or something close to the device’s native resolution.

*Larger, significantly improved speakers. Electronic digital/analog combined audio output has been mentioned as a possibility but we’re not holding our breath since most iPhones are used with headphones/headsets or the built-in speakers, not external digital audio systems.

*Larger and faster Flash storage; possibly two separate Flash chips, one for system/app storage and one for user files, music, videos et cetera….allowing for iTunes sync’ing over USB2 while the iPhone continues be be usable (no “Sync in Progress” lockout as on current iDevices), and possibly even sync over Wi-Fi(!!). Depending on whether it’s just one improved unit or two separate chips, storage is expected to be available in 8, 16, and 32GB versions with even larger ones coming around mid-year — 64GB?!

*And finally, one of the biggest show-stoppers of them all in the rumored feature set: 802.11n Wi-Fi with support for up to 300Mbps transfer rates — nearly six times as fast in absolute terms than the existing iPhone’s 802.11g technology; also offering greater range as well as much better performance near the extreme end of that range.

All in all, an iDevice to watch for…..and perhaps coming even sooner than we’d previously thought; before, most rumor-mongers expected the iPhone Pro to be the predictable mid-year revamp alongside a set of modest tweaks to the standard 3G model; now we think that the Pro will be announced within three months at the outside, most likely much sooner than that.

Stay tuned for much more dirt on this and many other rumors in the days ahead!

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