One phrase stood out, however: "at the earliest." That means the timing could be later, and still not run afoul of the story being incorrect. Apple has, in the past, said that the iPhone runs on annual updates, and pushed the new versions out in the middle of the year.
However, the story goes on to say an early release is being planned because of the sheer number of Android devices that are being released, which, although not anywhere near as popular as the iPhone, have to be of some concern to Apple.
The story also added that KT would only sell, in April, to its biggest corporate customers as a "test." After that, it plans to provide the upgraded iPhones to local distributors in June.
Specifications for the new iPhone reportedly include organic light emitting diode (OLED) screens and live video chat functionality (which was rumored before the iPhone 3GS), as well as a dual core CPU and upgraded graphics chips. Finally, and most surprisingly, the report states that a removable battery is likely.
Apple has always eschewed removable batteries in its iPhones, and recently has done the same with laptops, as well. It would normally seem unlikely they would make this move, because of that, but its possible the new CPU / GPU combination pulls so much juice that a removable battery would be a necessity.
Although it's been said in the past that the sleekness of the iPhone depends on the battery being a permanent fixture in the device, the Palm Pre seems to show that you can still produce a sleek design with a removable battery.
Recently, reports have suggested Apple that on January 27th, when Apple will announce its new tablet PC, it will also preview the iPhone OS 4.0. The company has also reportedly given a new iPhone 4.0 beta SDK to developers that includes a "simulator" that is supposed to make it easy to adapt applications to different screen resolutions, as in the tablet vs. the iPhone. The latest reports state that the tablet is reported to also run the iPhone OS.
We will probably know more about the possibility of an earlier iPhone release than "normal" after the January 27th event. One concern for jailbreakers: recently Apple made it much more difficult to jailbreak the iPhone 3GS, although it's still possible, but requires tethering if the device needs a reboot. Will they manage to go still further with the next iPhone?