updated 06:50 pm EST, Mon February 14, 2011
Apple claimed testing keyboard iPhone, two more
Apple has reportedly been more experimental with iPhone prototypes based on a rumor from Taiwan on Monday. The company is believed testing an iPhone with a "sliding cover" that would hold a keyboard. Apple.pro in the claim also mentioned a second model that would resemble an iPhone 4 with an eight- or 12-megapixel camera and longer battery life.
No description was given for the third phone, but it may be the small, budget iPhone mentioned by multiple sources.
The 12-megapixel camera was unofficially thought unlikely since it would generate too much noise. Phones like the Nokia N8 use 12-megapixel cameras that produce relatively little noise, but they also need large camera sensors and large lenses to get the intended effect. Eight would reduce the potential for noise with a minimum of size changes and would still be sharper than the five-megapixel camera of today.
Also mentioned was talk of the next iPad receiving a camera and being thinner, corroborating eariler rumors.
Apple chief Steve Jobs has dismissed the idea of a hardware keyboard on the iPhone from the start, arguing that the unchangeable physical buttons were a limitation that wasn't present on a touchscreen. The Taiwan contact may have also mistaken a third-party add-on case such as Boxwave's (below) for a full prototype. Even if real, it could represent experimentation rather than a concrete design. The company is known to regularly try designs that it may not necessarily ship, even cancelling them just before they might be announced.
Apple.pro nonetheless draws attention as it has historically been accurate. Among others, it unearthed the aluminum unibody MacBook and showed a miniature touchscreen that eventually became the foundation of the sixth-generation iPod nano. Some of its rumors, such as of a 15-inch MacBook Air, also ended up being false. [via AppleInsider]