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iPhone rumor mill conjures multiple models

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Rumors about the next-generation iPhone continue unabated, with the latest focusing on doubled internet-connection speeds and - finally - video-capture capability. And maybe more iPhones.

Silicon Alley Insider reports that a "plugged-in source in the mobile industry" says that the next-gen iPhones (possibly four models), widely rumored to appear early this summer along with the just-announced iPhone Software 3.0, will provide faster internet-access speeds.

If true, the upgrade will likely be due to AT&T's HSPA infrastructure, already rolled out in many markets, that can support download speeds of 7.2Mbps, coupled with new wireless circuitry in the next-gen iPhones.

Unfortunately for current iPhone 3G owners, their unit's wireless circuitry can only handle half that speed - the 7.2Mbps speed-up would only be available if Apple updates the wireless chips in the upcoming iPhones. A firmware upgrade to existing iPhone 3Gs wouldn't help.

Another rumor - that of a iPhone video camera that can share videos - hints that the faster wireless capability in the new iPhones could be powered by an HSPA chip from Infineon that the company claims can not only download at 7.2Mbps, but also upload at 2.9Mbps.

Any upload speed slower than that would make sharing video a painful experience, indeed - and the average upload speeds of the current iPhone 3G hover around 0.3Mbps, as measured by the good folks at Testmyiphone.com.

Although all of this is, of course, pure speculation, we're willing to bet that this summer will see the iPhone line diverge into multiple models - and not just based on capacity, as has been true in the past.

We predict a high-end iPhone with video, high(er)-speed internet access, and possibly speedier graphics capabilities based on Imagination Technologies' new multicore PowerVR SGX543MP graphics technology.

Below that would be a less-capable but more-affordable model or three, possibly one similar to the current iPhone 3G but with an OLED display, one without GPS circuitry for sale in paranoid countries and possibly one compact unit with specs that match the ever-elusive entry-level iPhone nano.

The iPhone is now well-established enough to grow from a product into a product line. This summer may be time for that line's coming-out party. ®

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