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.

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iPad engineering mockups, supposedly

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.

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