Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - Page 11 News List

Advanced iPhone could hit the market by June

ON THE HOOKMeanwhile, Android phone customers could find themselves swimming in fees if they return them within 120 days following the remorse period

By Tim Culpan and Stephen Engle  /  BLOOMBERG, WITH REUTERS , NEW YORK

Apple Inc’s latest iPhone will probably be available as early as June, include a more advanced camera and may feature a touch-sensitive casing, Goldman Sachs Group Inc analyst Robert Chen (陳柏宇) said in an interview, without identifying who gave him the information.

“Apple’s going to put a lot of innovation, not just on the hardware, but also on the software of the new iPhone,” said Taipei-based Chen, a member of Asia’s top-ranked technology hardware research team.

The handset will feature a new plastic casing similar to that used for Apple’s touch-panel Magic Mouse released last year, he said.

Magic Mouse, a computer mouse released in October, has a touch-sensitive solid plastic shell that replaces mechanical buttons. The technology may be replicated in the new iPhone to offer touch-sensitive features on the rear of the handset, Chen said.

Upgrading to a 5-megapixel camera will bring the handset into line with that offered by Google Inc’s Nexus One, which was released last week, Chen said.

The next iPhone will go into production as early as April and be available to consumers in June or July, Chen said.

The handset may include an updated version of the iPhone Operating System as part an overhaul of Apple’s applications store, he said.

“We’re not going to comment on rumors and speculation,” Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said.

Meanwhile, purchasers of the Nexus One Android phone could be on the hook for as much as US$550 if they return the phone after a two-week grace period, according to information from Google Inc and T-Mobile USA.

The phone, made by HTC Corp (宏達電), would require a US$350 “equipment recovery fee” from customers who return Nexus One after the buyers remorse period but before the end of a 120-day period following the purchase for a subsidized rate of US$179, Google said.

On top of this, such customers will owe an early termination fee to T-Mobile USA, which charges US$200 for early service termination on a pro-rated basis. This means that the fee drops gradually over the course of the two-year contract.

Customers of phones from other manufacturers typically just have to pay a fee to the wireless network operator if they break a service contract.

Customers who don’t opt for a two-year service plan with T-Mobile could choose to pay US$529 for the Nexus One, which is less than for people who give back the subsidized phone after 14 days.

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