While the battle rages around the lost Apple iPhone 4G prototype and its legal implications, Apple seems to have quietly started production of the next generation device. According to 9To5Mac, Foxconn started to take shipment of components for the phone last month. If you’re not familiar with how the iPhone manufacturing system works, Foxconn is the Chinese company tasked with final assembly of most Apple devices. Foxconn is fed from a web of component manufacturers throughout China. The companies rumored to be involved in the production of key iPhone components are:
- Touch panels – TPK, Wintek, Chimei Innolux
- Quartz components – TXC
- Camera modules – Largan Precision,Genius Electronic
Now that production is underway, we can be assured of iPhone 4G announcement at WWDC starting on June 7th. That should lead to general availability some time in late June or early July. Some had suggested Apple should bring the new iPhone out ahead of schedule due to the leak and subsequent furor around it. If you consider the logistics of the supply chain however, Apple probably knew that was impossible. If Foxconn was taking delivery of parts for assembly in April then that means the component manufacturers were probably ramping up and producing components in March. That means a final design was probably agreed to in January or February at the latest. By the time Steve was announcing the iPad in January, he could very well have had a final prototype iPhone in his pocket. All of that of course leads to another tantalizing possibility. If the final iPhone design was finalized in January or February then the errant iPhone found in a bar in April was, in all likelihood, a final prototype. Or, as is always the case in the riddle-wrapped-in-an-enigma world of Apple, a brilliant piece of misdirection.
So if the new iPhone is in production in China and if we can reasonably assume the prototype lost in California was close to the final version, it looks like Apple has delivered on much of what its user base has asked for. The front facing camera will be used for the video chat option alluded to in iPhone OS 4. The additional microphone will undoubtedly be used for noise cancellation as well as a diction to text feature similar to Android 2.1. Many have suggested that was part of the rationale behind the Siri purchase. And persumably the HD in the rumored iPhone HD moniker will refer to both the improved display as well as the rumored capability for the new camera module to shoot 720p video.
No matter what, the next month should be very interesting as new tidbits of information leak out about the new iPhone. If Apple answers with the hardware and software everyone anticipates, it will again shoot the iPhone ahead of the competition.
What are you looking forward to on the new iPhone? Have you delayed your purchase in light of the leak of the new iPhone prototype? What’s your wishlist of iPhone features? Let us know in the comments section.