iPhone 4G hardware expectations

In light of the recent discovery of what looks like the iPhone 4G, we go over our iPhone 4G hardware expectations and whether the discovery matches them.

Nicole Lee Former Editor
Nicole Lee is a senior associate editor for CNET, covering cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, and all things mobile. She's also a fan of comic books, video games, and of course, shiny gadgets.
Nicole Lee
3 min read

The gadget world is buzzing today over a supposed iPhone 4G that both Engadget and Gizmodo say was discovered on a bathroom floor in a bar in California. Gizmodo says it has even procured the hardware for a more detailed hands-on overview of what we can expect from the next iPhone.

iPhone 3GS
We expect the iPhone 4G to have the same home button as the one on the iPhone 3GS seen here. CNET

It's hard to approach this discovery without some amount of skepticism, but we have to admit that some of the evidence lines up with what we have been expecting from the next iPhone. Here, we detail which specs align with our predictions and which make us wonder whether this hardware leak could be a decoy.

The specs we found believable:

Micro SIM card instead of a regular SIM card. We already know that the iPad with 3G will use micro SIM cards instead of normal SIM cards, and we don't know of other cell phone companies that use this new SIM card format.

Front-facing camera. Because of the recently announced VoIP multitasking abilities in iPhone OS 4, the front-facing camera is a natural fit for Skype users or anyone who wants to use video chat.

What looks like an IPS display, similar to the one on the iPad. We did speculate that Apple would have a better display on the next iPhone, and we didn't think Apple would leap on the OLED bandwagon, so again, this seems to be in line with expectations.

Larger battery. Longer battery life is a big issue, and we definitely expected some kind of hardware revision to ensure that to be the case.

The placement of the home button is similar to that on the iPhone 3GS, thus retaining the same iPhone look and feel.

Now for the details that make us wonder if this is either a decoy or just an early prototype:

The aluminum border combined with the overall blockier look. The whole design just doesn't scream Apple to us. It looks, to be frank, clunky. The iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS has tapered edges, giving the device a nice cradled feel in the hand; this squared-off device doesn't look like it would feel that way at all.

Headphone jack on the supposed iPhone 4G
Headphone jack on the supposed iPhone 4G Gizmodo

Too many seams. For example, take a look at the headphone jack. Previous Apple devices like the iPod, the iPhone, and the new iPad all have seamless headphone jacks that look as if they were carved out of the same material. The headphone jack on this, however, almost looks like an afterthought.

The separate undifferentiated volume buttons. Again, Apple is known for the one volume rocker that you can easily feel while the phone is in your pocket and press up or down. The generic circular buttons on the supposed iPhone 4G have no identifying up or down arrows and we can't imagine they would be as easy to press or use. As colleague Donald Bell said, they look like the kind of volume controls you would find on a cheap Chinese knock-off. Gizmodo has posited that the controls might be used as camera shutter buttons, but the design trade-off doesn't seem to be Apple's style.

Smaller display. Sure it's only very slightly smaller than the current iPhone 3GS, but having a smaller display doesn't sound like a big selling point for new hardware.

Finally, here's a list of what we expect going forward. We're basing these predictions on recent Apple hardware releases, most notably the Apple iPad:

Apple iPad
We expect the iPhone 4G to inherit the Apple iPad's display, performance, and battery technology. James Martin/CNET

Better performance, perhaps because of a faster chipset based on the A4 chipset on the iPad. The iPad is uniformly praised as having a really snappy interface, and it only makes sense for Apple to use some of that technology in the new iPhone.

Better display. With Apple's embrace of the IPS display with the iPad, we fully expect the new iPhone to have improved screen quality. The iPad really does the IPS display proud, especially with the great viewing angles, so having this on the iPhone is a definite possibility.

Longer battery life. The iPad has been praised for its incredible 10+ hour battery life, so it won't be any surprise to us if the iPhone 4G inherits the same long-lasting battery technology as well.

How about you, readers? What do you think of the supposed iPhone 4G hardware? Is there anything that you would add or remove? Let us know in the comments!