BLOG: Next-gen iPhone

Any early adopter worth their salt will be aware of the rumblings over in Cupertino. For those of you who didn't get the memo, a new Apple iPhone is on the horizon and speculation is mounting as to what we might expect. The rumour mill has been churning out everything from a full QWERTY keyboard to a Nano-like design. While there's nothing official from Steve Jobs and co. we've tried to single out the most likely upgrades and improvements and assess whether they will be enough to bring even more people to the side of the iPhone.

Despite its phenomenal success, its inability to record video has been a major criticism of the iPhone and therefore the next generation device will in all likelihood include this functionality. Whether this will be enough to encourage people to convert or upgrade to an iPhone largely depends on how strong its recording features are. Consumers are becoming more tech-savvy as to what makes a good camera and therefore unless it can record video in 30 frames per second (fps) - which is generally considered DVD quality - it will be overshadowed by other high end handsets. What's more with the likes of YouTube receiving ten hours of video uploads every minute, video recording is becoming an increasingly popular tool. Unfortunately as both the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G housed a miserly two-megapixel camera we won't be holding our breath as a sub standard 15fps video recorder appears more likely.

As touched upon the iPhone's camera features often receive a panning. Auto-focus would seem an obvious improvement especially as it is often assumed to be a given in today's mobile phone market. However, for it to really hold its own in the company of other camera phones at the very least an LED flash should be present too.

A magnetometer or digital compass is also said to be in the pipeline. This could prove to be a very useful and innovative addition as users will be able to point a phone in any direction no matter how the device is orientated and be told what direction you are facing. Applications could integrate this feature pinpointing a particular building for example and providing useful historical or architectural information. However, while such an addition has undoubted benefits I'm not sure it will be a standout feature, largely because little has been said of magnetometers and therefore many are unaware of what one actually does. Perhaps this will change in due course after another iPhone ad campaign.

Finally the other much touted upgrade is that of voice control. This is sure to appeal to some as there is a degree of novelty in being able to call your contacts by simply speaking a name. That said a lot depends on how reliable it will be. We've seen it on other handsets and have been left frustrated by calling the wrong contact or accessing the wrong application. What's more as the iPhone remains King of the touch-screens, it would be questionable as to why someone would use something with at best a 90% success rate over a tool that provides a truly fluid experience.

Whether the next-gen iPhone will be enough to convince the likes of BlackBerry users to make the move to Apple, only time will tell. The BlackBerry Storm already provides a similar alternative and while the tweaks discussed here warrant a degree of excitement they're not crucial ingredients to what a BlackBerry user is looking for. However, while all's said and done it's good to see Apple is raising the bar once again.

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Mobile Choice

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