The rumor shows the unreliable site iDealsChina depicting information and renderings of what it claims to be an "iPhone nano" -- the same height as an iPod nano but wider and thicker and with the same iPhone 3G contours.
What part of that sentence sets off your internal alarm? Just about everything, I think. Not enough? Take a look at the rendering that's got everyone pondering the possibilities:
Oh, and just why would Apple need a new form factor for the popular iPhone?
With rumors like this, a $99 4GB Walmart-available iPhone sounds about as likely as an Iraqi journalist throwing an object at our dear President Bush.
Forget skepticism -- it's questions like these that have me downright cynical about the whole rumor, start to finish.
Where do I start, besides that embarrassing rendering? For one, iDealsChina is about as unreliable as they come. MacRumor elaborates:
iDealsChina, however, has a very mixed track record. In August, it passed off renderings of knock-off iPod clones as the real thing and also claimed that the new iPod Touch would have GPS (it did not). The site, however, did previously have access to Griffin case moldings that appeared to be real. The sizes could correlate with smaller touch screen photographs that iLounge published in June.
The site claims the product will be announced at Macworld San Francisco 2009.
Sure, "iPhone nano" rumors are popular, but this one sets a new low. Besides the obvious lack of corporate motivation to make such a device at this point in time -- if there's anything that needs to go "nano," it's the weight of the T-Mobile G1 -- a smaller-sized iPhone would likely be incompatible with a host of apps, thanks to a difference in screen size and resolution.
Plus, you know, the real Photoshopped quality of the image. A lighter blue with lighter black shadow outlines, like someone just upped the contrast of the image to its left? No screen rendering inside? From an unreliable source? And, quite simply, few customers available to pay a premium on a smaller, presumably high resolution version of a device that's already selling well?
If Apple's got a smaller iPhone in the can, this isn't going to be the first hint of it. Someone could have gotten more mileage out of a resized a press photo of an iPhone 3G.
It can't be too small, either -- no one wants to read the New York Times on an iPod nano-sized screen. And there's a lot of engineering and production costs associated with a smaller device, so unless I hear about a contract Apple has struck with a screen producer to make screens of this size (same as the iPod nano! how convenient!), I'm not going to bite.
Don't get me wrong -- there's definitely a chance at a (slightly) smaller iPhone. But it's certainly not going to be a miniature version of the current iPhone, its smaller size corresponding in every dimension. The designers at Apple are just too smart for that.
Plus, you know, they have the whole "mini" name available to them.
What would be welcome upgrades to the iPhone? For one, a higher resolution. Perhaps a stronger processor. Perhaps a better battery. Perhaps even more refinements to its already-intuitive interface. Perhaps more integration with services, much like the aforementioned G1 has done with Google search.
Nano? Don't go shaking in your boots just yet. Even the Motorola KRZR had to get longer to get thinner.