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Korean Telco Divulges '4G iPhone' Details

Apple's next generation iPhone will be a dual-core powerhouse with a removable battery, addressing two of the biggest complaints about the device. That's if an article in The Korean Times is accurate.

The newspaper printed comments from an executive with Korea Telecom, Apple's exclusive partner to sell the iPhone in the Republic of Korea. In the interview, a KT executive said they expected the device, called the '4G iPhone,' to ship in April at the earliest.

"It's possible to launch the devices within the first half. Still, there are some 3G iPhone stocks. But KT and Apple have reached a broad consensus to introduce the advanced models as early as possible," the unnamed executive told the Times.

The article adds that the phone would be available to bigger local corporate clients as a "litmus test" in April and to the mass market in June.

If so, it would be a departure from traditional Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) introduction patterns. Since its 2007 introduction, new iPhones have been formally unveiled in June and available in July or August.

As for the phone itself, KT said the 4G iPhone would have organic light emitting diode (OLED) screens for higher screen resolution, an improved camera with the ability for live video chat functionalities, and also said that a removable battery is "highly likely."

The new 4G iPhone will also have a dual-core processor and more powerful graphics chips for higher resolution video. That would seem to indicate a shift to the ARM Cortex-A9 processor, the new dual-core processor design ARM announced last year. The iPhone uses an ARM Cortex-A8 derivative now and a PowerVR GPU.

CDMA support coming?

A wide Korean rollout could also indicate some other good news. Korea uses the CDMA protocol, which Verizon uses. AT&T and most of Apple's worldwide partners use GSM. Apple is already in Korea with the 3GS and uses its 3G network, but a wider roll out could he good news for Apple customers that a CDMA device is in the works.

Apple did not return calls seeking comment.

Throwing a little more fuel on the fire is a French Mac enthusiast site, which posted the rumor of a beta version of iPhone OS 4 being announced at the same time as Apple's rumored tablet later this month. The site said that one of the concerns in this SDK is "making it easier for developers to adapt to different screen resolutions."

The article (here in its original French) also said "the new iPhone could also benefit from a higher pixel density," which would coincide with an OLED screen.

While these rumors are all logical and make sense, there's no way of knowing how much it's true, admits Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin. "There's a lot of OLED devices. I'd be highly disappointed if the next generation iPhone didn't have it. All those things seem like they'd be pretty important," he told InternetNews.com.

The iPhone could certainly use a major leap in technology after the 3GS, which was fairly mild in terms of what it introduced over earlier iPhones. With Droid, Nexus One and the rest of the Android army bearing down on Apple, the company might feel the pressure to make a big technological leap and not wait until its usual June announce date, he reasons.

"The bottom line is what do they do to maintain mindshare and remain in the conversation about who has the best devices in the market," said Bajarin. "This is the first time since the iPhone came out that we have some products out there that could give it a run for its money. Since they are still deemed the leader, it's still important for them to do what it takes for people to recognize the innovations they are working on."