Is Apple testing a new iPhone model?

A software analytics program has detected evidence that Apple may be testing a new iPhone model, when software developer Pandav discovered in usage logs for its iBART public transportation app that an iPhone had identified itself as “iPhone 3,1.”

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A software analytics program has detected evidence that Apple may be testing a new iPhone model in the San Francisco area. But there’s very little hard evidence of what the newness might be.

Earlier in November, software developer Pandav discovered in usage logs for its iBART public transportation app that an iPhone had identified itself as “iPhone 3,1.” The identification was picked up via the PinchMedia analytics software embedded in iBART. MacRumors and AppleInsider reported on the discovery.

The newest iPhone model is the 3GS, which used “iPhone 2,1” as its identifier. According to the Web reports, Apple raises the first of the two numbers when it introduces a major new hardware model of the popular smartphone. AppleInsider notes that the original iPhone was iPhone 1,1, and the iPhone 3G, featuring only minor changes, was iPhone 1,2.

MacRumors reports that the first iPhone 3,1 reference was uncovered in the phone’s firmware back in August. The Pandav reference seems to be the first use by a live device. The site reports Apple first began testing what became the 3GS model in October 2008, about 8 months before its release in 2009.

The use of the numeral 3 in the new identifies suggests that Apple has major changes in store for the hardware. And that prospect is fueling all kinds of speculation.

One long-rumoured possibility is a Verizon-based iPhone, though Verizon’s aggressive promotion of the new Motorola Droid in the US, with its TV ad campaign mocking the otherwise-unnamed “iDon’t” phone, might have cooled that opportunity.

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