Pictures of the new iPhone model appeared on a Chinese forum, and then vanished, but not before the pages were translated and posted online again. The model sports video capabilities, a nifty auto-focus feature and a compass.
If reports are true, the next iPhone from Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) will boast a 3.2-megapixel, auto-focus camera, MMS capability, a mini on-screen switch for shooting video and a digital compass.
The auto-focus feature works by first touching a portion of an on-screen image. The auto-focus square will then move to the finger’s location and subsequently refocus, according to the MacRumor forum post.
“The new iPhone has built-in compass software. Upon press of a button, the direction is immediately displayed. It will be very useful when travel or mountain hiking,” according to the MacForum post.
While the reports are unconfirmed, Apple executives did recently outline a plan for expanding into China as part of the roadmap for the future of the iPhone, along with releasing models at lower price points and expanding features.
News of the next iPhone iteration comes on the heels of announcements last week from Palm on key webOS features for its do-or-die Pre, the company’s answer to Apple’s iconic handset.
The Pre goes on sale Saturday, while Apple is expected to unveil a new iPhone either two days later at its developer conference or next month at a special event hosted by Steve Jobs.
But Palm and Apple aren’t the only contenders in the summer smartphone showdown. Rivals are enhancing their operating systems and gearing up for signature product launches in an effort to capitalize on the lucrative smartphone market, which is posting gains amid a wider slump in handset sales.
Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) just finished tweaking the BlackBerry operating system to support touchscreens and speedier browsing. A BlackBerry Storm 2 is on tap for summer release, while Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) open source mobile operating system Android just rolled out its first significant upgrade, dubbed Cupcake, with version 2 on the way. Samsung, HTC and Motorola are expected to put Android phones on the market this year. Microsoft is also prepping updates to its Windows Mobile software.
Meanwhile, as the Pre generates pre-launch buzz as an emerging threat to the iPhone, Apple and RIM are duking it out for market share beyond their respective sweet spots — RIM, which dominates the enterprise, is executing an aggressive strategy to tap into the consumer market while Apple’s iPhone makes progressive in the business world.
Apple did not respond to our interview requests by press time.