A Taiwanese Mac rumor site with a sometimes-accurate history of predictions is now claiming that Cupertino is testing three radically different prototypes of the next iPhone.
The first prototype is allegedly a Blackberry-like iPhone 5, boasting a slide-out physical QWERTY keyboard for faster typing. Ostensibly, such a device would be aimed at business users and texters.
The second prototype? Just a spec bump, making the iPhone 5 the equivalent of the iPhone 3Gs to the iPhone 4’s iPhone 3G. The design would closely resemble the existing iPhone 4, merely upping battery capacity and the megapixels on the rear camera. Presumably, it would also upgrade the iPhone line to the rumored dual-core A5 CPU which will debut next month with the iPad 2.
Of the third prototype, nothing is known, but it may be the 4-inch iPhone 5 we posted about earlier today.
That Apple would be constantly testing multiple iterations of the next iPhone hardware isn’t much of a surprise, but if you asked me to bet on which of these designs would actually come to market in June, I’d say it’s the second prototype: the iPhone 4s.
A physical QWERTY keypad would discredit everything Cupertino has accomplished with multitouch and iOS. In addition, Apple has historically tended to “take a year off” between major revisions of iOS hardware, and it doesn’t look like the iPad 2 will be a radical departure from the original iPad, but more of a refinement, a la the iPhone 3Gs. I think we can expect modest gains — iike a jump to a dual-core processor and better battery life — for the iPhone 5, followed by another major evolutionary jump next year for the iPhone 6.