If you haven’t heard, a new 4th Generation (prototype) iPhone was found on the floor of a bar in San Jose. Sounds fishy, right? Engadget posted pictures on its site last week and then a day later said that they were probably pictures of a knock-off iPhone from China. Another day later and they are posting that it is real again. Then I read that Gizmodo actually got the prototype iPhone, for an undisclosed amount of money. They put up pictures and videos of it on their site. They actually got hands on with the new iPhone and even took it apart to verify the Apple design for themselves. Turns out that this is the real thing… and it looks exciting!

Gizmodo's close-up photo of the new iPhone. Check out the new button layout on the side.

Apple has always been known for changing their products every few years. Look how much the iMac has changed from its Bondi Blue design back in 1998. We have been through three iPhones now, so it is about time Apple made a radical change to the design of the next generation iPhone. By looking at this new iPhone, Apple has taken some queues from the iMac and new iPad design. I’m ready for something new and this seems to fit the bill. Only problem is that I’ll get it and then stick a protective case around it.

So, what new features does this new iPhone have for us? The phone was remotely erased from Apple, so when powered on, it just shows the ‘Connect to iTunes’ screen. Before being erased, it was said to be running OS 4.0 and have 80GB of storage. I could replace my current 80GB iPod with that. The screen looks to be much higher resolution, but there is no way to tell the exact specifications. With the normal iPhone screen running at 480×320, to make all the iPhone apps compatible with a larger amount of pixels, they would need to double the size horizontally and vertically. That means the screen should be 960×640 in size or quadruple the pixels. This is possible since the Droid phones are running displays around 800×480 in about the same space. I compared a zoomed-out website on an iPhone and Droid. The text looks much sharper on the Droid and it even made the real small text readable.

From the physical appearance you can tell that there is a front facing camera, a larger back camera, and a flash. The front camera will be great for Skype video calls. I have a brother-in-law, who lives in Japan, so it will be nice to video chat with him and not be sitting in front of my computer. The larger camera will help with the rumored 5MP camera by allowing better lower light photos. The flash will also help with the lighting of subjects when dark… probably won’t project that far, so subjects should be close.

The new iPhone is flat on the front back and edges. It has curved corners with a brushed aluminum that wraps all around the edge. It weighs a little more than the current iPhone but is thinner. Two buttons replace the toggle volume control from the previous iPhones. It is thought that one of these buttons may act like a physical shutter button for the camera. That would be a welcome feature for those of us who take a lot of pictures with the iPhone. There is a slide toggle switch where the mute toggle was before. The top still has the headphone jack and push power button. Also noted is a small hole next to the power switch which is thought to be another microphone for noise cancellation… a nice feature for speaker phone calls or voice chat. The phone sim card was moved from the top to the side and is a micro-sim card like the iPad.

This photo from Gizmodo shows the new iPhone next to the 3GS.

This is considered a prototype iPhone, so the end product may still look different. It does look good though, so I can’t see it changing much. Usually when auto-makers have a prototype car out on the road, they put ugly moldings on it so that you can’t tell what it is underneath. Whoever had this phone just stuck it in a protective case so that it would like the current iPhone. Apple may have the design cleaned up more before release. Just a couple more months and we will have our hands on it.

Apple is said to be wanting this misplaced prototype iPhone back. They may even go as far as to have pictures removed from websites. If the pictures above are gone and the links stop working, you’ll know Apple had something to do with it. With AT&T telling employees that they cannot take vacations in June, that is probably the month that the new iPhone will be released. AT&T has done this with previous iPhone releases too. I’ve already got my 5:00am time in line set at my local AT&T store. Just need a date to go with this time.