The head of AT&T has promised that a version of Apple’s iPhone capable of connecting to 3G wireless networks will be released next year, bringing noticeably faster web access and email downloads to this line of smartphones.
A faster connection to the Internet is probably the most requested feature in the iPhone, and many have passed on buying the current version of this smartphone because it only offers the 2.5G standard EDGE.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson — whose company is the exclusive provider of the iPhone in the U.S. — did not give any details on on when the new version will be released, though doubtless many are expecting an announcement at the MacWorld tradeshow in January. Apple announced the original at this same venue this year.
Apple’s Steve Jobs has said that 3G was left out of the current model because it would put such a drain on the battery that the time between recharges would be unacceptably short. It’s not clear if the next version will have a higher capacity battery, if Apple engineers have found ways to make the device more power efficient, or if the company is simply giving in to customer pressure and will release a model with a shorter battery life than the current one.
As for the price of the 3G iPhone, Stephenson said that would be determined by Steve Jobs.