Aesthetics reared its ugly, or beautiful (depending on your side of the debate), head in the iOSphere this week, as commentarians contemplated the question of whether real iPhones have curves.
Speaking of curves, the iOSphere was thrown one with a rumor that the Really Big iPhone 6 would be delayed until 2015. The reason: there are no Really Thin Batteries for it. Finally, much was made over the prospects, via stock market analysts, that the stock price of a Taiwanese firm you’ve never heard of rise because it would continue to be one supplier of the aluminum bodies for the iPhone. The only reason this is important is that the analyst, perhaps unwisely, predicted 2014 iPhone 6 shipment.
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You read it here second.
“Bulls excited by promise of never-before-seen Apple innovations”
~ This headline, to a Chris Smith post at BGR.com, wins April’s “Image-from-a-news-headline-we’d-most-like-to-forget-but-can’t Award” for its suggestion of manifestly uncastrated male bovines aroused by promises.
iPhone 6 will drop flat sides, go with curves, and a “curved display” or something
A Japanese language post at Mac Otakara is spreading confusion, via Google Translate, in the iOSphere regarding Apple’s alleged plans for the body and display of the iPhone 6.
Here’s a sample: “According to reliable information, GALAXY S III , has adopted a curved glass with a rounded edge portion, but there seems to be a possibility that employ curved glass that was round along the curved surface iPhone 6.”
The translation continues: “The SQUAIR "design of the housing, SQUAIR CURVACIOUS BUMPER a metal housing that is similar to the state that attached the "not employ a diamond edge processing, such as the back camera portion, which is divided for antenna It does not seem to shape.”
According to CNET’s Lance Whitney, this means: “The iPhone 6 will incorporate a curved glass display that will stay flush against the phone's new rounded corners....”
“[T]he iPhone's more rounded body would resemble the design used in the Squair Curvaceous Bumper, which envelopes the phone in a rounded case,” Whitney writes.
Here’s what that would look like, based on an image from Squair’s website.
“Apple is not one to jump on the curved display bandwagon without a good reason,” Whitney reminds us. “But if the rounded corner rumor is true, then it's possible the display itself might need to curve at the edges to fit properly.”
That’s one possibility for sure.
BGR put this hilarious headline on a Chris Smith post about the Mac Otakara rumor, an exercise in pure clickbait: “New report reveals huge iPhone 6 design changes”
Redmond Pie’s Paul Morris posted that Mac Otakara “is claiming that the soon to be announced next-generation model will ship with a design overhaul in favor of rounded edges and accompanying curved glass, very much akin to Samsung’s Galaxy S3.”
And that the “same sources are suggesting that whatever device is announced later in the year will also feature a revamped display made of slightly curved glass that will be implemented to accompany the rounded edge design.”
Jacob Kleinman at TechnoBuffalo says the post means “the upcoming device will feature a curved glass design around the edges, offering some sort of hybrid between the iPhone 5s and 5c design.”
At CultOfMac, John Brownlee gives the Mac Otakara a pop culture spin. The iPhone 6 will “have a curved display. And that’s not where the curves stopped: like Marilyn Monroe, the iPhone 6 will also have curves that fit nicely in the hand.” In case you’re too young to know who Ms. Monroe was, here’s a clue.
“Every iPhone since the iPhone 4 has featured straight edges, but with the iPhone 6, Jony Ive wants a more organic feel in the hand, which makes a lot of sense, given that the device’s increased size will likely make it harder to hold,” Brownlee confidently declares, based on his telepathic insight into the mind of Mr. Ive.
AppleInsider’s Mikey Campbell takes a swing at what “curved glass” might mean. “To accommodate the rounded edges, a slightly curved display glass is also said to be part of Apple's design plans,” he writes. “Based on what can be gleaned from the report, it seems like the top glass will not feature a convex face, but rounded edges to sit flush with the chassis.
In other words, your guess is as good as anyone else’s.
5.5-inch iPhone 6 will be delayed
The reason: it’s hard to find a battery thin enough to fit inside it.
“Accord to a recent report coming from the Taiwanese media (or Taiwan’s “Commercial Times” to be exact), Apple’s 5.5-inch iPhone 6 (which has been referred to as the “iPhone Air“) might not be ready for the masses by the end of 2014,” writes GForGames’ Mihai Matei. “Supposedly, Apple’s biggest challenge is to create a very thin device, and the main issue is that the battery cell suppliers are currently unable to meet the Cupertino giant’s demands.”
Matei has numbers. “In general, smartphone batteries have a thickness of roughly 2.8 / 2.9 millimeters, but in Apple’s vision, the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 must have a slick profile which can only be achieved by fitting a battery that measures only 2 mm or less,” according to Matei.
Stranger things have happened, of course. It just seems a bit odd that - five months from the most-expected iPhone 6 announcement date - Apple is only now discovering there’s a problem with thick batteries.
iPhone 6 metal casings to be produced by a Taiwan firm you’ve never heard of
This is one of those “facts” that doesn’t really lead anywhere, and yet provides the perfect growth medium for iOSphere conclusions.
The starting point is a post at FocusTaiwan, which is the English-language news service of Central News Agency (CAN), a Taiwan-based news and media company. The FT post is based on an investors report, prepared by Morgan Stanley analyst Grace Chen, about Catcher Technology Co., which manufacturers metal (and other materials) casings for a wide range of products, including smartphones. It is at least one supplier of machined aluminum bodies for various Apple products, including the iPhone.
“Taiwan's Catcher Technology Co., a casing supplier for Apple Inc., will benefit from next-generation iPhone product cycle and the growing adoption of metal casings in smartphones, Morgan Stanley said Monday in a research note,” according to the FT post.
“Chen expects Catcher to ship 10.5 million iPhone 6 casings in 2014, representing an estimated 15 percent share of overall iPhone 6 orders, and will ship 20 million casings for all iPhone models, about a 17 percent share of total iPhone orders,” according to the post.
Doing the math, the result shows that Chen apparently believes that Apple will or could or might ship a total of 70 million iPhone 6 units in 2014, most of the presumably during the October-December quarter. So…she likes outlook for Catcher’s stock.
Another CNA news outlet, TaipeiTimes.com, carried a post about a second stock analyst report on Catcher Technology, this one from Barclays Capital. Barclays, too, raised its target share price for Catcher, and “said it expects Apple’s next-generation smartphone to be launched in the second half of the year and that shipments of the new model will be 35 to 40 percent higher than the previous one.”
The fact that Catcher continues to be a case supplier to Apple for the iPhone doesn’t really tell us anything about the iPhone 6. It’s a fact without meaning. The only fact with potential meaning is Chen’s guestimate of how many iPhone 6 units she thinks Apple will ship this year.
But the iOSphere boldly ventured into extrapolation.
Mihai Matei, at GForGames, condescendingly begins his post about the two analyst forecasts by claiming that the “The iPhone 5S seems to lose its charm, reason why recently, the handset in question has been massively discounted in the US.” (Apart from being false, his claim ignores the fact that in Apple’s just-announced second quarter iPhone sales were stronger than expected, at 43.7 million units, increasing from 37.4 million units in last year's second quarter, resulting in a slight hike in quarterly profit and revenue.)
Matei pulls Chen’s figures from the FT post and writes: “In turn, this means that Apple intends on shipping roughly 70 million iPhone 6 units in 2014.” Of course, it means nothing of the kind. Neither Chen nor Matei have any knowledge of what Apple “intends.”
Matei concludes, “Apple seems to have a lot of faith in its upcoming iPhone 6….” This is equally meaningless, since there’s no way from way, based on a stock analysts estimate of future product sales, what the degree of Apple’s “faith” – whatever that would mean – in its product.
For a picture of quarterly iPhone sales, check out this bar chart from Statista.com. Q1 in Apple’s fiscal year is the October-December quarter, which usually has the highest number of unit sales. The chart shows that every quarter’s sales have been higher than the year-earlier quarter, and that sales continue to climb overall.
That seems like a pretty solid foundation for anyone’s “faith.”
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for “Network World.”