iPhone 3GS to Have Short Lifespan?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about getting a fancy-pants cellphone, perhaps even canceling my land-line in the process.  In particular, I’ve been pondering the prospects of the new iPhone 3GS. It is unquestionably a terrific little smartphone, one that ought to do precisely what I think new technology should do: simplify life and lessen the clutter. Since I love my iPod Touch and have been thinking about finally getting a cellphone, this might be what pushes me over the edge. (There’s a mobile joke there.)

That said, there are lingering uncertainties.  My biggest concern about the new iPhone (other than adding the monthly cost of the device) is that the “3GS” branding screams (to me at least) short shelf-life.  It isn’t the sort of model-name you can really expand upon (I rather doubt they’ll call the next one the “3GS2”), which means Apple is already planning the release of the next rendition. The 3GS would thus be a stop-gap, interim device to tide us over while Apple transitions to the next version. More than that, since the next rendition will open up a new model path (“iPhone 4G”? “iPhone Pro”?), one might assume that its technological features and design will change significantly from the “3G” series. In other words, while the 3GS only tweaks the 3G version (and uses up old 3G-design stocks in the process), the one-to-come is likely to reinvent it — and the production plans for that future iPhone cannot be far down the line if Apple is backing itself into a naming corner with the impending release of the 3GS.

If this logic is true — and I’ll note that I’m neither an Apple engineer nor someone who stayed at a Holiday Inn last night — then some pertinent questions arise:

1. How long until that reinvented iPhone shows up? and

2. What could the new one possibly have that the 3GS does not?

To the first question, as I said, the plans must be quite advanced given the “transitional” branding of the 3GS. I’d suspect, therefore, that the one-to-come will arrive sooner rather than later, as Apple goes for the throat of its competitors. New Android phones are dropping this summer, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple releases iPhone X not long afterward. The guess here is September.

To the second question, well, who knows?  The form-factor would be altered, of course, probably meaning a less-scratchable, less-droppable case that’s better sealed than the current design. I doubt it would happen, but maybe Apple would finally allow users to swap batteries or to expand memory.  What else could be packed into the device, though?  Higher resolution, no doubt.  Hell, they might even call it the iPhone HD (nah).  Probably a slightly larger screen.  Maybe a screen-facing camera to enable video conferencing on the go. More memory might be a given (64 GB, or go-for-the-jugular 80 GB?), but could we also see FM reception? Bluetooth 3.0? Some other whiz-bang thingamajig that we can’t possibly imagine right now but won’t be able to live without in a year?

And then there’s a third, more personal question:

3. Do I have faith enough in this logic to put off buying a cellphone, or do I take the plunge with the 3GS?

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