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Dreaming up the next-gen iPhone

Bloggers are already putting together mock-ups and a wish list of new features that would be key in any future version of the Apple gadget.

There's no question that Apple's iPhone 3G has been the hottest phone of 2008 with its sleek touch screen design and software, but that hasn't stopped bloggers from dreaming up ways to make the iPhone even better.

iPhone screen
Not everyone is convinced of the virtues of the iPhone's virtual keyboard. Apple

Earlier this week, the gadget blog Gizmodo posted a mock-up design of a next-generation iPhone created by blogger Mat Brady. Gizmodo calls the new gadget the "iPhone Pro." It describes the dream iPhone as having 60GB of storage, true 16:9 aspect ratio, 1-megapixel front camera for iChat, and a high-quality camera, with video capability, plus a slide-out keyboard.

The keyboard is an important distinction. While I have grown to love the virtual keyboard and predictive spelling capabilities of my iPhone, many hard-core mobile e-mail users and texters hate it. And because they want an actual QWERTY keypad instead of a virtual one, they are often drawn to Research In Motion's BlackBerry devices, Windows Mobile phones, or the new Android phone. But many of these users would like the cool functionality of the iPhone, if only it had a real keypad.

Gizmodo blogger Jesus Diaz believes that the imaginary iPhone Pro design is doable from a technology perspective. But he also believes it would likely jack up the price of the device. I agree on both counts. And I also agree that a phone like this would find an audience.

But I'm not sure that Apple would ever add every bell and whistle in this dream iPhone. I definitely think that Apple will add more storage capacity and video functionality and improve the camera capabilities on future versions of the iPhone. But will Steve Jobs and company really add a keyboard with actual buttons?

I guess we'll just have to wait and see. As other smartphones, such as the Blackberry and Google's Android phones mature and evolve, Apple may have no other choice than to design a phone with real keys.