iPhone 6 rumor rollup for the week ending Dec. 21

Hopes for spring, pre-shattered touchscreens, cool duals

The holiday preparations took their toll on the iOSphere this week, as rumorers, distracted by ordering and buying the latest Apple products, cut back on their speculative output about future ones.

There are new and still completely unjustified rumors that Apple plans to release the next iPhone, which will be either iPhone 6 or iPhone 5S, in the January-March time frame. Also this week: a news report that an interim model, the 5C, with pre-shattered touchscreens, will be released before the iPhone 6; and dual-LED, dual-color flash for iPhone 6.

You read it here second.

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"The rumor came with no evidence (certainly no photos) but it's seemingly too odd to be made up."

~ "Peter," at GSMArena, posting about an anonymous tip and providing this week's most compelling iOS rumor assessment criteria: its credibility is directly proportional to its oddness.

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iPhone 6 will be released Q1 2013

International Digital Times asserts that the Next iPhone will be released in the January-March 2013 time frame because of a "report" released by independent analyst Horace Dediu, founder of Asymco.

The post is headlined "iPhone 6 Release Date 2013: First Quarter Launch For New Apple Smartphone [REPORT]." As is often the case, the text of the post is somewhat different. Dediu "has released a report stating that starting in 2013 Apple will release a new generation of each device (iPhones and iPads) every six months, as opposed to the one year product cycle we've seen since the first iPhone debuted in 2007."

And what's more, "Dediu's report is based on an official statement from former Apple CEO John Sculley."

IDT is pretty dismissive of Sculley. "We're not sure how credible Sculley, who left Apple back in 1993, is when it comes to the electronics company's current inner workings."

But. "However, we've been predicting that Apple will speed up its product cycle for weeks."

The confusion in and with this post is emblematic of iOSphere rumors. First, Sculley didn't make an "official statement." The TUAW website interviewed him and he answered some question. He gave his opinion.

Secondly, Dediu didn't "release a report." He composed on his blog, as is his wont, a reflective, informed speculation, triggered by the Sculley opinion, about what he frankly called "circumstantial evidence" that Apple may be moving to a semi-annual product release cycle; and the scale and impact of such a change. His full post, "Does S stand for Spring," is here

The last bit of evidence he considered: "Rumors of 5S products in pre-production. This is the least valuable piece of evidence but it might indicate that the 'S' variant is targeting spring launch." That puts a different perspective on the "we've been predicting that Apple will speed up its product cycle for weeks" claim by IDT.

One of the issues Dediu doesn't touch on is what impact a twice-a-year iPhone introduction would have on Apple's pricing, not so much for the newest iPhone but for the one or more preceding models, and on the length of each model's life cycle.

iPhone 6 will be preceded by iPhone 5C

The 5C is being targeted at college-age women, who have a greater than average penchant for breaking their iPhones. To address this problem, the 5C will come in several pre-shattered touchscreen options, all of which make it nearly impossible to use. Yet it relieves iPhone owners of breakage angst.

Trust the parody site The Onion to track down the really interesting rumors. 

iPhone 6 will have dual-LED, dual-color flash

Then, there's the almost-as-entertaining unintentional self-parodies.

iOSphere Rumor Rule 17 (RR17) says that if a rumor doesn't pan out, then wait, tweak, and recycle: eventually you're bound to be right.

"We received an anonymous tip," begins the post at GSMArena, by "Peter." He provides this week's most compelling iOS rumor assessment criteria: Its credibility is directly proportional to its oddness.

"The rumor came with no evidence (certainly no photos) but it's seemingly too odd to be made up," he writes.

The tipster, let's give him the codename OddJobs, says "that the next Apple smartphone (whether it's the iPhone 6 or 5S) will have a dual-LED flash...."

But there's more. It will be "unlike any other dual-LED flash we've seen before," Peter declares. "It's going to have LEDs of two different colors."

Think of it. Two LEDs. And two different colors. There will be a "regular LED" which is, you know, just regular. And one "with a slight blue tint." And why you ask? "The idea behind this is to improve white balance when snapping photos," Peter assures us, authoritatively.

Wow! Or more precisely, "Wow, again!"

Dual LEDs for what became the iPhone 5 were widely rumored throughout 2011. Hence the "wait" part of RR17. But these LEDs will be differently colored, hence the "tweak" of RR17. All that's left is to ignore Google's search history and recycle.

"We're not quite sure how this is supposed to work - use both LEDs at the same time to produce a brighter, slightly blue illumination, or light them up one at a time to get two different illuminations in an HDR-type strategy (instead of combining two exposures to get better dynamic range, combine two photos with different color to get better color accuracy)," Peter confesses.

It's a puzzle. That's often the case with rumors, especially those falling under RR17.

Some smartphones today use two LEDs for their camera flash. According to a 2011 forum posting at StackExchange's Photography community, "a dual LED flash can emit twice as much light as a single LED, which means you can [light] subjects 1.4 times further away. It also draws twice as much power."

One forum member linked to a 2008 post by Steve Litchfield at AllAboutSymbian.com, comparing LED, dual-LED, and Xenon flashes in camera phones. He posted three photos of the same interior scene (a drumset) shot using the three different flash techniques. The dual-LED is indeed much brighter, with fewer and less intense dark areas. The Xenon flash is brighter still but also yields much more true-to-life colors compared to dual-LED.

Peter doesn't weigh down his blog post with things like details.

"It's an odd rumor as we said - it's unlikely, but why would someone make it up?" Peter asks, presumably rhetorically.

Why indeed? Why make something up and then contact a tech blog and convince them that it's real or being considered or in a prototype?

"Thanks to our anonymous tipster!" Peter concludes his post.

Oh. Maybe...that's why.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww

Email: john_cox@nww.com

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