What’s next for iPhone & other iDevices?

There are many new features and pieces of core hardware that we expect to see in future iDevices — some of which (iPod Touch S) could be announced in a matter of weeks, others (iTablet, higher screen resolutions, 802.11N Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, etc) which we think may reach the market early next year and the truly next-generation stuff (4G cellular network chips, dual core ARM Cortex 9 processors, even more powerful GPUs, 5-megapixel camera with 1080P HD video and so on) that almost certainly won’t be announced until mid-2010.

And that’s just a short list.

But even Apple itself doesn’t necessarily know for certain whether suppliers will hit road-map targets for the components/chipsets that will bring these capabilities to the iDevice platform….nor whether the internally-developed technologies being engineered at Infinite Loop will hit their own.

In recent weeks we’ve seen several examples of Cupertino revising its roadmaps at the last minute (iPod Touch “S” and iTablet were to be announced at WWDC, then pushed back to the end of the month, and now may still be weeks away — or months, in the case of iTablet), and that is an ever-present possibility when attempting to predict what or when it will announce…..

However, we’re particularly confident that the combination of powerful new CPUs, GPUs, and a 5-megapixel imaging sensor (camera) by Omnivision — the same supplier who builds the 3.2MP imager in the iPhone 3GS — will make video at 720P (60 frames per second) and 1080P (30fps) possible in the not-too-distant future.

The above is based on public statements about upcoming products by Omnivision, and the little-known fact that the current iPhone 3GS is actually capable of recording 720P video (Apple decided that storage and battery life were too much of an issue with the current 32GB max storage & 600MHz ARM Cortex A8 CPU)…..but the evidence for higher screen resolutions — and perhaps also slightly larger displays for the iPhone/iPod Touch — comes directly from insiders at Infinite Loop.

Rumors has been privy to prototype iPhones with 16:9 displays that take up more of the front face without significantly changing the overall device size by shrinking the black “margins” at the top and bottom, supporting resolutions in the ballpark of 720×480 (AKA 480P HD). Even more impressive prototypes are now reportedly under development with resolutions as high as 1280×720 (720P). For a display of only about 5 inches diagonal size, that’s one hell of a lot of pixels. Some would say overkill, in the latter instance.

The current iDevices already sport quite a high resolution for a screen of that size, but there are a few reasons to push the limits — notably output to large screen displays/televisions, and pixel-exact application design consistency across palm-sized iPhones/iPods and the much larger iTablet (roughly 10 inches), among others.

Until at least mid-2010, we won’t be seeing resolutions anywhere near 720P in the hand-held iDevices, but a more screen-dominated front face with 16:9 aspect ratio in the 720×480 ballpark is very doable. We think that this could hit the market as soon as January or February 2010 in an “iPhone 3GX” revamp which would add a new industrial design (enclosure) and new features to the existing core platform of ARM Cortex A8 CPU/PowerVR SGX graphics.

As for the “iTablet,” in its first iteration we expect the roughly 10-inch screen (some prototypes have been smaller, about 8in) to be 16:10 with 1280×800 pixels. Shipping dates are hotly debated on the grapevine, but even given the considerable “skewing” of Apple’s 2009 Roadmap that has taken place recently, we would be quite surprised if the release slipped past year’s end. With any luck, it will arrive significantly sooner than that.

Stay tuned for much more on this plus all things Apple, Mac, and iDevices as we enter a phase where Apple will eclipse even the excitement of the recent Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC)….and then some. It’s already an exciting time to be a user of Infinite Loop’s remarkable technology — and it’s about to get even more so as the release of Snow Leopard and other new products approaches.

Don’t forget to Follow us on Twitter (@MacOSRumors) if you want even more of the hottest dirt!

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  • the all-seeing i

    1. I don’t believe for a second that Apple had any intention of announcing the 2009 Touch at WWDC and taking the focus off the iPhone 3GS. That would be an incredibly in-Apple thing to do. As an Apple observer, I can predict with considerable confidence that the new Touch will be Introduced at a special event on or about September 8th, with immediate availability. I’d love to see a Touch tablet at the same time, but the crystal ball is cloudy.

    2. There is no cost justification for a true hi-def screen on a portable device. The human eye simply can’t resolve pixels that close together. (F’rinstance, most people can’t tell the difference between 720p and 1080i resolution on displays smaller than 42 inches.) HOWEVER, it makes perfect sense for a portable device to output 720p or 1080i (or 1080p for that matter) to an external device that can display every pixel to advantage. This seems to be an obvious evolution as technology advances.

  • http://www.cormetech.com/ Selective Catalytic Reduction

    1080p HD recording on an iPhone is truly amazing. This is setting the stage for a whole new future. I look forward to everything Apple has to come, I think they are changing the world. It's a new direction people! 🙂

  • http://www.cormetech.com/ Selective Catalytic Reduction

    1080p HD recording on an iPhone is truly amazing. This is setting the stage for a whole new future. I look forward to everything Apple has to come, I think they are changing the world. It's a new direction people! 🙂

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