What's the iPhone 3G Going to Look Like?! Countdown to WWDC - Wait-a-Thon

iPhone Black: 3G Form Factor Rumor Roundup: Countdown to WWDC

[Note: This a a Wait-A-Thon post! Tell us what you think the iPhone 3G will look like -- or comment on any post tagged "Wait-a-Thon" -- for your chance to win a $100 iTunes Gift Card! Note that you must post with a valid and real email address so we can send you your prize -- no switching!]

Yesterday we asked you "What's the iPhone 3G Chip and When Will it Ship?" Today we want to know what YOU think the iPhone 3G is going to look like?

Darth Vader black and Paris Hilton thin? Candy red fatty with Kevin Rose cam up front? High-def white with chrome button trim? What do YOU think?

To give you some help, here's a HUGE roundup of all the iPhone 3G form factor rumors. Epic-style. Because let's face it, roughly 0.01 seconds after Steve Jobs pulled the first iPhone from his pocket back at Macworld 2007, and someone, somewhere, put aside their childlike sense of wonder long enough think: "Nice! What's the next gen going to be like?"

Complementary, contradictory, obvious, confusing, all but confirmed or from left field via outer space, the rumors have flooded the internet ever since. It's become almost impossible to keep track of them all.

Six days from today Steve Jobs takes Moscone Center stage for the sold-out WWDC keynote, and according to everyone and their newsfeed, announces the iPhone 3G. In eager anticipation, every day this week, TiPb wil be asking you to tell us what you think the next generation iPhone will be, from 3G to GPS, release dates to price points, colors to casings, 2.0 software to .Mac .Me services, and this weekend we'll wrap it all up with a look into the WWDC/iPhone 3G Crystal Ball, and a roundup of the very best of YOUR predictions.

So come on, let's get in on!

WWDC -6 and Counting: Form Factor

Right after "OMG 3G!" and "when can I get it?!", the next most burning question in the heart of the blogsphere is "what will it look like?!"

The current/original iPhone is 4.5" x 2.4" x 0.46" (115mm x 61mm x 11.6mm) and weighs in at 4.8oz (135g) with a glossy black, optical glass facade, silvered trim, aluminum backing, and a black plastic band over the bottom rear to allow the antennae better reception. It boasts a 3.5" 320x480 display at 163dpi, a rear-facing 2.0 megapixel camera, 3.5mm recessed headphone minijack, 30-pin dock connector, speakers at the top and base, microphone at the base, accelerometer, light sensor, proximity sensor, top-mounted SIM slot, on/off button, mute switch, volume button, and home button. All of this wrapped up in Apple's trademarked rounded rectangular slab form factor.

It's an admittedly drool-inducing beauty, having won numerous design awards including the prestigious Black Pencil. What then could they possibly change only a year later?

Let's start at the beginning and work our way forward. Please note, since it's ridiculously easy to stuff a current-gen iPhone into a new case and snap a pic, not to mention photoshop an iPhone (or even another phone/device altogether) and claim it's the iPhone 3G, these should all be taken with the largest grain of salt that can comfortably fit in a C-130 sized transport:

March 7, 2008: Beginning the SDK-related leaks, the iPhone Lounge stumbled over a small image of a "fatty" iPhone on the Education First Educational Tours "private page" on iTunes. Sure, it could have been a next-gen iPod Touch or even iTablet, or just Apple playing with us, but it was enough to get the rumors racing!

iPhone Fatty?

March 18, 2008: Apple Insider, ever vigilant over Cupertino-based patent filings, came across something that included references to:

capacitive array element [that] may be a dual-sided panel that is capable of sensing touch from either side and sending signals indicative of the touches to a host device (e.g., a desktop computer, a laptop computer, a digital music player or a mobile telephone unit).

And we said "hello" to iPhone Flip rumors!

iPhone Flip

April 4, 2008: The iPod Observer ran a picture of a supposed iPhone 3G spy shot, and it was painted black. It later turned out to be just a current gen iPhone in a black case, but the iPhone Black rumors were here to stay.

Fake iPhone Black \

April 25, 2008: Engadget's trusted source claimed to have the know on the iPhone 3G. They stated numerous test units were already out and about in "super secret pockets". And the specs? Same size and shape as the first gen, with glossy black finish like that in the fake "spy shot", chromed(?!) volume buttons, no removable battery, flush(!) headphone jack, and the same screen size and resolution.

May 1, 2008: iLounge provided a picture of an iPhone 3G spec sheet for accessory makers. Highlights included blond, brunette, and redheaded models. Also featured were a tapered back, and a slight repositioning of the sensors. The conservative changes (color aside) made this one of the first leaks to seem at least part-way reasonable.

iPhone 3G Possible Spec Casing Sheet

May 12, 2008: The Boy Genius Reports captured AT&T's website suddenly offering the choice for an "iPhone Black", which added further fuel to the black plastic iPhone fire. A UK accessory store also showed strings for "iPhone Black" accessories (or were they iPhone "Black Accessories"?).

AT&T Website Shows \

May 13, 2008: But as AT&T leaketh, they also taketh back, and an AT&T spokesperson claimed the iPhone Black listing was a system glitch caused by some placeholder text for the different 8GB and 16GB models. The explanation made no sense to anyone familiar with website wiring, but other reports surfaced saying "Tilt Black", for example, had also shown up, suggesting the excuse did cover a glitch, only a sillier one than claimed.

May 15, 2008: Fed up with AT&T hogging all the leaky glory, Intel Germany Geschäftsführer Hannes Schwaderer let slip that:

There is an iPhone with Intel’s new Atom chip. The device is slightly larger than the current version. That is not, however, because of the Intel chip, but because of the larger display used in the new iPhone.

Intel tried to claim it never happened, but others in attendance's take on the comment was:

The Intel CEO mentioned furthermore, that the display on iPhone 2 would be bigger than on iPhone 1 (although it is already quite big). iPhone 2 is also thinner than iPhone 1.

Mac Touch Concept Rendering

May 19, 2008: Perhaps riffing on the aforementioned (rumored) specs, accessory maker EXO posted a mock up of what one of their cases would look like on such an iPhone 3G, potentially confirming both the specs, and the Nano-like fatness.

EXO iPhone 3G Case Mock Up

May 27, 2008: iPhoneClub.nl posted some images of an iPhone White that looked eerily like the fake spy shots of the current gen iPhone-in-a-case we saw previously. If by some means legit, they confirmed both the increase in width, and plastic and more rounded back.

Another Supposed iPhone 3G White Spy Shot

May 28, 2008: The spy shots got kinda hectic when IdealsChina showed off a supposed mold for well known accessory maker, Griffin's iPhone 3G case, as well as a mock up that matched previous rumors rather closely. (meaning they were real, or the rumor people had resorted to copying each other).

Supposed Griffin iPhone 3G Case Mold

Supposed Griffin iPhone 3G Mold Design

The same day, MacRumors Forums lit up with what was claimed to be a new iPhone icon file inside the just-released iPhone 2.0 SDK Beta 6. The icon, if legit, hinted at a less-rounded rectangular shape, thinner silver bezel, wider body, and slight rearrangement of the buttons (or that someone was good at photoshopping iPod Touch icons...)

iPhone 2.0 SDK Beta 6 Supposed iPhone 3G Icon

June 1, 2008: Reports had previously surfaced that Apple was filming an iPhone 3G commercial at the Flagship Apple Store in NYC, so it came as little surprise when a "spy shot" surfaced that claimed to be connected to the TV shoot. What was a surprise was that rather than the glossy black that consumed most previous rumors, this one went with a more understated matte blackish-charcoal finish. (Or at least the casing did...)

Alleged iPhone Matte Black from NYC Filming

June 2, 2008: “Inside Steve’s Brain” author Leander Kahney of Wired magazine claimed a programmer source inside a major software house revealed that the next generation iPhone 3G would be a whopping 22% thinner, even with better battery life, and twice the storage (for an uber-cheap $200 to boot!).


June 5, 2008: iDealsChina (via Apple Insider), who previously leaked the Griffin “iPhone 3G” molds, now claimed that Apple had made some last minute case changes resulting in a next generation device 2mm (0.08 inches) shorter and 0.5mm (0.02 inches) thinner than the previous leaks showed.

At the same time, iLounge doubled up on the rumors and claimed that Apple may be releasing not one but TWO new iPhones with 3.2" and 2.8" screens respectively. Dubious, and they could just as easily be for a next gen iClone as iPhone, but iPhone Nano rumors are hard little things to squash...

iPhone 3G: Two Sizes to Rule Them All?

Your Turn!

So there you go, now it's your turn. Tell us what YOU think the iPhone 3G is going to look like. Blond, brunette, or redhead? Thinny or fatty? Shiny or matty? More buttons or less? Toned down or pimped to the max?

And after you're done telling us, don't forget to head over to our iPhone Blog's super Wait-a-Thon spectacular where you could win an iPhone 3G of your very own, whatever it looks like, on the very day it's released!

Go back and read Part 1: What's the iPhone's 3G Chip and When Will it Ship?
Continue reading Part 3: What Surprises Will Be in iPhone 2.0 Software & Services?
Continue reading Part 4: What 3rd Party iPhone SDK Apps Will Be Available Launch Day?
Continue reading Part 5: What Will the iPhone 3G’s Hardware Features Be?

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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What's the iPhone 3G Going to Look Like?! Countdown to WWDC - Wait-a-Thon


Doesnt metter how it will look, I think that apple are pro in the design side of all of there products more than anything else, I think that they will change the design, I guess they will just add the 3G camera infront but thats it. :P

I definitely think that they are going to have different casings this time around. As much fun as a silver backing is that just gets mega-scratched up from my keys, I wouldn't mind having to wipe of finger smudges.
Oh and YOU KNOW they are going to have a pink case, so that all those bubble-gum Hannah Montana lovers will make their parents buy them a $500 iPhone. --> they are genius!

I think it's going to be the same look. I'm uncertain about its size. The 22% rumor is pretty convincing, but I don't see how its possible. If the added functionality it true, they're going to need that bigger battery.
I think it'll be the same chrome, brushed steel finished with a body type most similar to EX0 Mask

Think it is going to be a tad bit bigger than the first. Will have a bigger, longer lasting battery which will take up the extra space.
I don't think it will have a black back, they will stick with silver.
Also, think it will be available in white and black fronts.
Other than the thickness though, the length and width will stay the same.
Can't wait!!

There will only be one choice of color to start with, and I believe that it will be the matte black finish. Also it will be thinner than the current iPhone, and it will have features such as GPS and video chat.

Like the current nano (which someone leaked early, got ripped for and later was correct) my sense is that the form factor will be pretty much as reported. It will be contoured like the current nano and Mac Book Air giving the appearance of a very thin object from some views while having a bulge in the back that's not quite the thickness of the current iPhone.
So yes, it will be thinner and that only stands to reason. The original was a prototype last January. In the last 18 months it only stands to reason that some of the chips and components will have been reduced in size to allow this to happen even with a larger battery (required for the 3G chipset and GPS) as well as the need for more memory capacity (up to 32GB).
FWIW, the screen will be roughly the same size to slightly larger with more pixels. If you thought the RIM Bold had a great screen wait until we see with Apple comes out with.

It's going to be funny if after all the speculation and postings of alleged 3g iphone pictures that the actual 3g iphone will look totally different.
Maybe that flip iphone idea that most of us dismissed will actually be the design used.
At this point, I don't put anything past apple. Also, if the form factor of the new iphone is different than all the rumors then I will no longer be reading rumors about apple products because it would be clear that their campaign of misinformation is highly effective.
run on sentences rule.

I think it will:
1. Be available in black or white, but not other colors, completely getting rid of the metallic backing of the first iPhone.
2. Have the rounded corners, although I personally do not like this look, and I hope I'm wrong about this.
3. No longer have the recessed headphone jack. I think Apple realizes how silly that was.
4. Otherwise be identical to the first iPhone in its physical appearance.
I think it will NOT:
1. Have a front camera. Too much hardware dedicated to what would essentially be a novelty.
2. Come in colors other than black and white. Apple doesn't do that anymore with their high-end devices (ex. current lines of computers, all iPods other than the Nano and Shuffle)
3. Be thicker. Thinner is always better, and Apple knows that. I simply can't hear Stevie J saying anything is "thicker" than the previous model.
I could give my opinions about other aspects of the new iPhone, but since this article is about what it will "look like", I'll stop there.

IMO, unless they have the organic display allowing them to thin the LCD to accomodate a larger battery, the phone is probably the fatter for which the cases have been molded already. The comment from Intel probably reflects multiple versions of the iPhone to be launched, traditional, tablet touch, larger screen versions, etc. Interesting 2008 for Apple.

I'm voting for thinner in black and white. Plastic casings for better reception and less interference.

well w/e it looks like i will deff buy it anyway!!! so.... but i want it to be like thin with black and white would be much more awesome!

I don't care what the specs are as long as it has 3G( a given) and a camera in the front. But I believe it will be a bit thicker and since it might a plastic back, I'm hoping for lots of colors available. If not then its off to colorware for my custom Boston Celtics backing.

I think they should expand the screen, delete the chrome bezel and go with a thinner body with black, rubberized metallic finish a la IBM ThinkPads. It would, of course, look better next to that $100 itunes gift card :-)

You know how Steve Jobs always likes to have his talking points / bullet points when he is on stage. Because of this, I'm sure Apple is trying to improve upon the earlier design in every way possible. Therefore, I think the bullet point list will look something like this:
Bigger Screen, Smaller/Thinner Device, Faster Processor, Faster Speeds, Better Camera, Better Phone, Longer Battery.
You just know that Steve will want to really WOW everyone with what he has to show off.
I'm thinking Black matte finish, more rounded both at the corners and across the back, but otherwise quite similar to the first one.
Remember, Apple products tend evolve slowly, not in leaps and bounds. They will want it just different enough for fan boys to buy a new one while not putting the average purchaser of gen-1 out so much so as to feel left out in the cold with an 'old' product.

22% thinner? I don't know about that one. If the new iPhone really does have a better batter, 3g AND gps I have a real hard time believing it is not going to be fatter than the current model. So long as I am not carrying a brick around, I will definitely be getting the new iPhone. Fat chicks need loving too.

I have to disagree that thinner automatically equals better. When a device gets too thin, it can be difficult to grip while typing, and that is a no-no in my book.
My personal take?
I don't think it is going to drastically change much at all. I think the chrome trim may get a rework, it may be a bit thicker, and I think it may end up being all one color —aside from the trim. Other than that though, I don't see much changing.
Internally, I see a better ear speaker due to complaints of poor call volume. My hopes are that it also has a higher megapixel camera, or at least an improved 2mp if they don't go bigger. My only other hardware hope is for a camera flash...
Everything else I want is probably coming (3G, GPS), or falls on software.

  1. Black
  2. Thicker
  3. More rounded
  4. GPS
  5. Forward facing camera ( hope hope )
  6. 3G (Could be wrong about this one ;-)

I think there will be two iPhone models announced. One almost exactly like the current generation except with 3G, and a new plastic-backed model. The new model will be a little thicker to allow bigger battery, GPS, better camera, second front-facing camera, 3G, and will come in the three colors (black, white, red). The plastic back allows more freedom in placing the GPS, WiFi, and cellular radios to keep the iPhone still pretty thin with even better battery life.

I don't understand the appeal of the front facing camera when At&t doesn't support video calling, and it is useless unless the person you are calling also has a front facing camera. Are all you front facing camera requesters in Europe?

im going to say. Black, thicker, GPS, 3G, minimum 3 mega pxl camera on the back. i would say that we are going to be extremely impressed with the look, apple is always on top of their game when it comes to looks. im definitely excited to see this thing, and i wanna get my hands on one.

I think that there will be some relatively minor appearance changes, but nothing spectacular. A phone as thin as the current iTouches seems really likely, but I think that it will be just barely distinguishable from the current models. (Unless you get a different color or something).
I think that they may make the screen bigger, but will keep it the same resolution, so it's not going to be much different. Changes the actual pixel resolution means lots of video recoding, UI changes, and other pain. Plus, if they are shooting to save battery life, smaller video files take less processing power to load.
The "leaked" photos showing the device bulging outward in the back are horrifyingly ugly, I don't think apple would ever put its consumers past that.
The big worries are really going to be price, both for the device and the service, not as much the new looks.

No matter what it'll be sweet. We know 3G, GPS...big question is battery life. will the battery be able to comfortably support full functionality for longer than a few hours. Thinner or fatter, if the battery life holds who cares. Overall, it'll win design awards, itll be intuitive and once its released we'll be yapping "Third Gen iphone....when? where? what?"

iPhone 2.0
Black and other colors to come in a few months
Slightly smaller
Better battery
Many dongle accessories will be sold to accompany the iPhone in the near future
MMS will be offered through a .Mac or.Me (whatever it will be called). This push MMS will also yield to push email offered from Apple from .Mac (yearly service applies)
Global rates (the iPhone incentive). Instead of having rates based around a company, the iPhone perks come into play, when traveling abroad your rates will be subsidized being that the iPhone will direct you to a specific provider with that country. So for example traveling from the US to England as a iPhone user you will be connected to O2 but you will have prefered international rates having a iPhone and being with the intended provider (another non hacking perk). Everyone wins with this plan.
Copy and paste will be sold by Apple in July
Premium Games will be sold by Apple late July
Ability to not just buy music over 3G but also purchase music for another iPhone will be possible, late june or july
A slew of GPS software will be sold by Apple, iPhone to iPhone positioning and first iPhone positioning (tag where you parked your car)
And to stress you will see many iPhone to iPhone features to entice purchase.
Bluetooth Audio in July (yes A2DP)

I am going to join the all black, but 22% thinner camp. Apple won't release a 2nd gen device that is thicker than the first.

Edge is ok, not as bad as everyone is crying about...really i just want MMS, iChat and Txt Forwarding. I mean seriously how could you create a phone with no MMS, my mom's phone has that and its one of those free phones. lol GPS would be nice but its gonna kill the batt and the batt that i have on the iPhone 1 already needs to be charged every night. Oh, and a Sharper Screen would be nice too!

I think that the next iteration of the iPhone will look much the same as this current version that has won so many awards. I'm almost certain that it won't be thicker, as I can't remember an iPod or any other recent Apple product getting thicker as the product line evolves. Here are my predictions:
1) Same form factor with a chrome bezel on the front.
2) It will definitely be thinner. I agree that 3G and GPS seem to dictate otherwise, but the Apple minds will find a way - 2-3 mm thinner.
3) They will stick with silver for the back or go with black. I actually like the brushed aluminum backing as it is quite resistant to scratches. I'm not so sure about the plastic.
So, in short, a lot of added functionality, but an iPhone - albeit thinner - that looks much the same as the one currently in your pocket.

does anyone have anything to say about a new camera?
samsung has released an 8mp cell phone camera so i expect nothing less then 3mp. I think this will be just keeping up with the times, and nothing out of the ordinary.

Personally, any camera over 2-3MP is overkill. It can be nice if doing any kind of graphics, but do you really need to see a hair on a mole?
Now, imagine if Apple made the iPhone as thin as the Airbook (compared to Macbook). Sit on it and it wrinkes.

what will it look like? Which one? I think there will be two iPhone's announced next week. A premium one and a iPhone Mini. This is why we keep hearing mixed signals about thickness and price. The mini will be priced at. $200 and have more or less the same abilities as the current one, only smaller, thinner and lighter. The premium is the one that gets all the new goodies.
As for looks, I think from the front you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between it and the current iPhone. I am going on record, however , the back will go from being made of metal and plastic to being a ceramic material, as suggested in some of there previous patents.

i think it will be black and 22 percent smaller. it will have the same single button with silver ourter edge. it will be easy to hold in the hand but slightly heavier than iphone 1

I sold my first-gen iphone to buy an Lg Voyager and I have absolutely no regrets. While I could hh

Thank you Alan for contributing a comment that has absolutely nothing to do with the topic. This is not a vs. iPhone thread, and as such, your comment holds no relevancy.
By the way, try to understand what you read before you make claims that aren't true. If you are browsing the web, the iPhone WILL receive calls just fine. It will simply pause your browsing session to take the call, which is drastically different than what you claimed. I am sure you made this claim because you read that EDGE doesn't allow for simultaneous voice and data, which is true, but is NOT the same as what you claimed.

I presently use a Microsoft powered Mot Q and design on Windows -- (OK, get the flames out of the way).
I also design products that have color touch screens. And can't wait to see what I can do with the 3G IPhone. I have watched Steve Jobs since he trashed the corporate Lisa with the fashionable Mac. (So ubiquitous only have to use the first three letters). Then changed the game with Next Computer, Pixar, and now the "I" mobile products.
The thin, fast (particularly if it is an Atom) visual (great color screen, graphics software, and multitouch), and thin make it the killer product in the space. The rest of the phone guys are sucking wind -- the IPhone didn't even exist 18 months ago and it is putting a lot of the phone makers out of the business.
Hail Apple designers. Hail Steve for bringing them together and getting the heck out of their way.

I just called the apple store syracuse and requested an iPhone she said they were not in stock, "ok I'll wait till after the 9th" she says "that would be a much better idea"
way to drop the info

I like the black or silver versions - a flip version might be nice, but I don't think it'll go that way. I really like that it might be thinner and with a bigger screen.

Most important to me is a possible 32 GB model. I've got too much music for a 16 and would love to have an iPhone replace my iPod. Don't really care how it looks. As long as 3G/GPS and annoying software oversights(copy paste, mms, forwarding) I'll get one.

The funny thing is that steve jobs is sitting at home on his 3g iphone reading all these blogs laughing saying haha there all wrong!

I think it's going to be black, but not plastic. I feel it's going to have a similar shape and feel as the iPod nano, and have the same finish as the bezel on the iPod touch. It will probably be a tad wider, I assume, but thinner. I think there may be a few surprise software features, but nothing huge.

I suspect in an attempt not to be left behind by the competitors offerings, the next iPhone will be a little thicker. It will sport a black plastic back with a simulated leather look. Also, in what some might call a controversial move, the iPhone will adopt a new smaller non-touch screen and a physical keyboard because, lets face it, touch screen keyboards are so 2007. Oh wait, that's a Blackberry Bold? Never mind.

I understand getting rid of the metal back, but I think the plastic looks cheap. Which at the Iphone price, it should not look cheap. The matte finish does look that bad, but not as cool as the metal.

The 3G iphone will look about the same.
The diffrence will be that when you have an error Steve Jobs face will pop up and say hes sorry and to just wait for a long time for an update.

Att hoppas på bra väder när man åker på semester till tex Sharm el sheikh är alltid bra, för om det är dåligt väder är oftast semestern eller turen inte lika rolig.

I rarely leave a response, but I looked at some of the comments here 301 Moved Permanently. I actually do have 2 questions for you if you do not mind. Could it be just me or do a few of these responses look like they are left by brain dead folks? :-P And, if you are posting on other social sites, I'd like to follow everything fresh you have to post. Could you post a list of every one of all your social community pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?