Whether a new iPhone will be unveiled at Apple's (aapl) World Wide Developers Conference -- which begins a week from today -- is still an open question, but all the signs of an impending announcement are now in place.
Two weeks ago, we got specs and spot shortages (see here). Last week the leaked photos started showing up. The provenance of none of them is certain, but neither has any been shown to be a forgery. And at least one veteran Apple watcher says the latest batch "look very real" to him.
Last week's leaks began Wednesday when China Ontrade, a Hong Kong-based vendor, released pictures (and prices) of what they claimed were parts for the "3gen 2009" iPhone: an inner bezel and what appears to be an LCD screen with slightly different markings than the iPhone 3G's. The first photograph suggested that the new iPhone would have the same shape and dimensions as the old -- with black instead of silver trim -- and the second seemed to put the lie to the rumor that the new iPhone would sport an organic LED screen. See below:
Two days later MacRumors leaked a photo showing the backs of two iPhones, one shiny black like the current Phone 3G, the other matte black and presumably representing the new 2009 model. MacRumors didn't say where the photo came from, and couldn't vouch for their authenticity, but it noted that the matte black finish was consistent with a photo released in February with a mysterious new model number: A1303. See below:
But the most interesting leaks, so far at least, are the blurry photos and screengrabs posted Saturday at 3 a.m. local time by a Chinese website called UMPC Fever, since overwhelmed by the ensuing traffic (MacRumors' translation here).
"It's already 3am, and I totally cannot sleep," writes the anonymous poster. "I just came home after meeting a friend from the U.S. This friend brought me something, and it's not H1N1. Instead, it is a item that will be under the world's spotlights -- a third generation iPhone prototype. This friend is a mysterious person. Even this 3rd Gen iPhone is also very mysterious. He said one can only take fuzzy snapshots of it, and not clear shots. 'Cuz it's still not officially released. So, in regards to the fuzzy photos below, I apologize!"
The shape of the device is hard to make out in the one photograph -- apparently shot in a parked car -- that shows it from the outside. (See above.)
More informative are the screengrabs that show several features that not available on the iPhone 3G, including a compass, multimedia messaging, horizontal typing, built-in video and voice recording and -- perhaps best of all -- a nifty autofocus feature on the new higher-res camera that allows you to select what you are focusing on by moving a little blue square with your finger.
The autofocus feature is shown in the photo below, along with a side-by-side comparison of photos shot with the old 2 megapixel camera and the new 3.2 megapixel model.
The rest of the UMPC Fever photos below the fold.