Apple has plans to launch the iPhone 4G this spring, according to published reports. The next generation of the popular smartphone will have an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screen, video chat, a removable battery, and an ARM-based Coretex-A9 processor and be released in the April-May time frame, an Apple representative has told The Korea Times. The iPhone 4G is also expected to have powerful graphics chips that will provide higher video resolution and better still images when taking pictures.

Reports of an iPhone 4G have surfaced since June when Apple filed several iPhone patent applications, including one for haptic technology for touch feedback and another for radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to be built into a touch-sensor panel. Additional reports surfaced in November when China Ontrade, an iPhone parts seller, leaked images of iPhone 4G parts.

Early Testers

KT, an exclusive partner of Apple in South Korea, is expected to sell the iPhones to a small number of early adopters who are local corporate clients. The company will then offer the devices to local distributors in June. KT is the same carrier that sold 220,000 iPhone 3Gs from November 2009 to the first week of January. KT's goal is to sell 500,000 iPhone 4Gs in 2010.

An Apple representative told the Times that Apple has been in talks with other telecom carriers to gauge the launch time for the iPhone 4G in South Korea.

A high-ranking executive at KT said he doesn't expect any big hurdles to introducing the iPhone 4G in South Korea because legal issues have already been cleared.

Behind Apple's moves to get an iPhone 4G out is Google's efforts to bring more Android-based smartphones to the market. Adoption of Android-based devices continues to run strong, causing competitors like Apple to pay attention.

Speculation Runs Strong

While an Apple representative is talking about the iPhone, others believe it may be a tablet that will hit the market in the spring.

"It's all rumors at this point; 4G could be an iPhone or the tablet, but no one can confirm," said Ramon Llamas, IDC's mobile technology and trends analyst.

"It's likely that Apple will once again release a new device this year in the spring, but what it might look like or specs is anyone's guess," added Interpret analyst Michael Gartenberg.

Apple fans have been waiting for the company to release a tablet, but Apple has not released any details. Apple has scheduled a Jan. 26 event when it is widely expected to announce the tablet.

If a tablet or a smartphone with a bigger screen does hit the market this spring, it will need to offer more than the iPhone and iPod to be successful.