Metal iPad minis, T-Mobile iPhones, and Amazon smartphones

This weeks' mobile rumor roundup is all about birth and death, but don't worry: the death is only something from Vista.

Amazon’s getting into the smartphone game, T-Mobile is getting its first iPhone early next year, and Microsoft may be getting entirely out of the “widget” field. Oh, and some slabs of metal appeared that look like the iPad and iPhone everyone seems to want. Here’s your rumor roundup for a sunny mid-July morning.

Amazon testing out a big ol’ smartphone

Source: Wall Street Journal, citing “Officials at some of Amazon's parts suppliers, who declined to be named.”

Details: The WSJ calls it a “smartphone,” but at a screen size “between 4 and 5 inches,” Amazon’s test units are something like Samsung’s Galaxy Note line: a really big phone, or a tablet you can take calls on, preferably with headphones. And the Journal hints that Amazon will take its preferred tactic of coming in on a truly low price point, aiming to expand instead its digital offerings.

Likelihood: Good, and maybe say 70 percent … But think about the carrier conundrum. Will they launch with just one carrier partner? Do they already have the carrier equation wrapped up in their Amazon Wireless experiment?

Get excited?: Depends on which carriers Amazon might run with. But it would be interesting to see Amazon make up an entire phone, with all its software, from Android but not with Android, as they did with the Kindle.

T-Mobile might get iPhone in 2013

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, quoting Sanford C. Bernstein’s Craig Moffett.

Details: T-Mobile seems to lose a lot of customers who want an iPhone. Here’s the most telling quote about T-Mobile’s desire for the device, from a March 12 blog post by T-Mobile’s Chief Technology Officer: “our 4G network will be compatible with a broader range of devices, including the iPhone.”

Likelihood: Very good: 85 percent. If Apple is already selling the iPhone on pre-paid and regional carriers such as Leap Wireless and Virgin Mobile, it’s only a few contract numbers, and maybe some wireless technology upgrades, that keeps the iPhone off of T-Mobile.

Get excited?: It would be much nicer if there was just an iPhone that worked on whatever carrier you had, or even just iPhones that worked with any GSM or CDMA carrier. But, hey, if your contract on T-Mo is out next year, heads up.

Peek at “engineering samples” for next iPhone, iPad

Source: AppleInsider, via Gotta Be Mobile

Details: Look at these shiny metal objects. Just look at them. One of them is nearly 4 inches across in screen size, giving credence to all the “bigger iPhone” rumors. The other thing, the smaller iPad everyone’s thinking about, has a smaller dock connector, rear speakers placed firmly in the middle of the device, and closer to 8 inches than 7.

Likelihood: No way do engineering samples get into the wild like this. These may line up with what others have said Apple is planning to do, but only because they were built that way. That you see this exact device come from Apple? 30 percent.

Get excited?: Only if you run an Apple-based blog.

Microsoft ditching widgets in Windows 8

Source: The Verge, citing Windows8China.

Details: Desktop gadgets, those little bits of HTML that can read from feeds and perform small tasks (that very few people like), were accepted and supported in consumer preview and earlier builds of Windows 8. In a more finalized version of Windows 8, though, they’re nowhere to be found.

Likelihood: 50-50. Operating system builds are big balls of yarn, and a thread missing here or there can be added in just before launch, as happens on Windows, Mac, and Linux OS releases quite often. But we can hope.

Get excited?: If you’re anything like me, you’ve seen desktop widgets go from an enabled-on-install sidebar in Vista, to a quirky option in Windows 7, to, now, hopefully, completely gone. I’m excited about no longer having to drag a clock into the trash, that’s for sure.

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