iPhone 6 rumor rollup for the week ending June 6

IPhone 6 mythology unfolded before the world’s eyes as the iOSphere rejoiced over how a problem with the iPhone 6 battery is now solved, even though no one ever demonstrated there was a problem to begin with.

Also this week: a massive serving of padded Thai when an obscure website in Thailand posted what it claimed were third-party cases designed for two iPhone 6 models, thereby revealing their True Dimensions; and the Nerdgasm that rippled through the iOSphere over the prospect that the Next iPhone, or the Next Next iPhone, would use both sapphire and the wondrous Liquidmetal.

You read it here second.

+More on Network World: Old electronics don’t die, they pile up | Apple rides the wave with Mavericks+

iPhone 6 battery problem “solved” for 5.5-inch model

It’s fascinating to watch the creation and elaboration of an iOSphere narrative that is pure mythology, based on anonymous sources and garbled English translations of Chinese blogposts.

This week, the iOSphere was informed that the “problem” Apple had been facing – to find a battery thin enough to fit into the rumored 5.5-inch iPhone 6 model, or “iPhone Air” – is now solved.

That problem was originally revealed in English by GForGames on April 22, 2014. That post, by Mihai Matei, was based on a Chinese language post at Taiwan’s “Commercial Times,” which you can still read online via Google Translate.

The basis for the Commercial Times post is anonymous “industry sources.” The post repeatedly used the phrase “it is understood” to assert as fact what was nothing more than conjecture, which is an “expression of an opinion or theory without sufficient evidence for proof.”

Yet that didn’t stop Matei from turning the Chinese post into a nailbiting drama about how the intractable battery design problem had forced Apple to delay the rumored 5.5-inch iPhone 6 model. (The Rollup covered this fantasy at the time.)

Zach Epstein, BGR, who confuses “rumors” with “reports,” assumes that the number of rumors correlates with the truth, and, in an exquisite example of confirmation bias, finds the latest evidence in photos of purported third-party iPhone 6 cases posted at an obscure Thai language blog (ranked 1,898 even among Thai websites by Alexa) that until now almost no one outside of Thailand even knew existed.

GForGames’s Matei was back this week revealing that this alleged problem is now solved, based on an English translation of another Chinese language post, this time at Laoyaoba.com.

The Rollup ran this through Google Translate, and here is the entire Laoyaoba post, verbatim:

“Yan Wanda (0.000,0.00,0.00%) want to cut into Apple's production capacity to expand production lines scale the content. ------ According pregnant understand new information, Yan Wanda (300207) is currently full orders, production capacity, has been in negotiations and then rented two plant expansion, the company plans from the current 120 production lines, extended to the end to reach 180 production lines. Public. Our current production capacity of the main reasons is because the success of this year to replace Taiwan Shunda cut Apple offers a battery module for the large-size (5.5 inch) of iPhone 6, has commenced volume shipments in May and June, the current share of about between 20% -30%. It is reported that the price of the battery module is about 40 yuan, iPhone stocking large quantities of approximately 20 million units 6, so Apple will provide the public the contents of the order. Secretary contribute 800 million revenue.”

From this almost impenetrable prose, based solely on “pregnant understand new information,” Matei and follow-on bloggers like MacRumors’ Richard Padilla, construct an entirely unfounded narrative that reads like an epic of Engineering Prowess.

“Reportedly, Apple intends on creating an extremely thin device, and in order to achieve this, the 5.5-inch iPhone needs to be fitted with a very slim battery,” Matei writes. “Sadly, Apple’s main battery supplier, Dynapack International Technology Corporation, hasn’t managed to keep up, but the good news is that Apple has now allegedly teamed up with a different battery supplier in order to beat the odds. Based on these fresh reports, Sunwoda is the one who will now have the task of supplying the company with the necessary batteries, and based on these reports, Sunwoda will have the responsibility to produce roughly 20 million batteries….”

Here’s Padilla’s narrative at MacRumors: “Now, a new report from Chinese site Laoyaoba (Google Translate, via GforGames) claims that Apple has solved its battery issues with the 5.5-inch iPhone 6, as the company will partner with Chinese manufacturing company Sunwoda Electronics to manufacture 20 million batteries for the device. Apple's main battery supplier Dynapack will also help with production, however the Taiwanese-based company has reportedly struggled to keep up with demand.”

These smooth-flowing narratives obscure the fact that there is no credible information whatsoever to support them.

iPhone 6 cases from third-parties show how big the new phones will be

BGR’s Zach Epstein believes that numerous repetitions of the same unfounded rumor prove that it’s not really a rumor after all. He does that because what most people call “rumor” he calls a “report.”

“If a dozen independent reports from insiders, analysts and some of the most respected newspapers in the world are to be believed, Apple will launch two completely redesigned iPhones in 2014,” Epstein writes in a new post headlined, “4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 cases show us how much bigger Apple’s next iPhones will be.”

These two iPhones are, of course, the September iPhone 6, “with a thinner housing, a 4.7-inch display and a sleek new design” and the Holidays iPhone 6, later in 2014, “with a similar look and an even bigger 5.5-inch screen.”

Adding to Epstein’s certainty is the “latest such leak,” this time from the “CookieCoffee blog in Thailand, which claims to have procured a pair of next-generation iPhone cases.” An obscure Thai language blog (ranked 1,898 even among Thai websites by Alexa) that until now almost no one outside of Thailand even knew existed apparently qualifies as a source of independent reports. One would think it might not be considered in the same class as the most respected newspapers in the world. And yet, in practice, that’s exactly how Epstein treats it.

“A series of photos published on the site show both cases, which are believed to have been made using models that accurately represent the final designs of both 2014 iPhones,” Epstein assures his readers, without explaining just who it is, besides himself, who actually believes this or why they believe it.

And here is one of the photos, showing a dark pink silicone case for the so-far-non-existent 4.7-inch model, and a hard plastic case for the so-far-non-existent 5.5-inch iPhone.

Epstein and others reason that these accessory manufacturers have an interest in getting their measurements right, so their prototype cases are “leaks” regarding the size of the new iPhone, based on inside information. Of course, these manufacturers actually may be basing their decisions on reading blogposts from, say, Zach Epstein.

iPhone 6 will have liquidmetal body and sapphire screen

This rumor, based on the recent grant of a U.S. patent to Apple, is bona fide Nerd Ecstasy.

It combines the wondrous Liquidmetal metal alloy from Liquidmetal Technologies, from whom Apple has licensed the technology, with the equally wondrous synthetic sapphire that Apple, with partner GT Advanced Technologies, is currently growing in Mesa, Arizona, presumably for the coverglass of future mobile device displays. [See slideshow, “Here’s how Apple is spending $1 billion on sapphire.”]

Liquidmetal is a trademarked name. The material is a form of amorphous metal, which replaces the traditional crystalline structure of metal with one that is non-crystalline, in effect, like glass or “plastic.” As a result, amorphous metal can be processed or handled like glass, such as being liquefied for injection molding rather than cut, machined and ground. Yet the final product is stronger than Titanium. A company like Apple could use such a material possibly to lower an array of production costs, while having more options for forming the material to meet the needs of a given device. Here’s Liquidmetal Technologies’ list of the alloy’s properties.

There have been rumors for years that each year Apple was about to introduce an iPhone with a Liquidmetal body. That still seems unlikely before 2015 or 2016 at the earliest. But in May, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Patent 8,738,104 to Apple (the original application was filed in July 2008). The invention is for “methods and systems for integrally trapping a glass insert in a metal bezel.” For example, fitting a sapphire glass sheet to a mold, injecting liquidmetal, and ending up with a finished assembly in which the sapphire window seems to be a seamless part of the surrounding casing instead of a piece glued onto it. Here’s a diagram, posted by AppleInsider from the patent document, that gives you an idea of the idea.

The patent is not about amorphous metal, or sapphire, specifically, but cites both as “suitable materials” for what the invention intends.

Anthony Wing Kosner, a self-described “designer and developer and content strategist” who works as a magazine art director and web editor, maintains a blog at Forbes. His recent post on the patent is headlined “Apple's New Sapphire And LiquidMetal Patent Clear Way For New iPhone 6 Design.” And yet he then writes, “There is no telling if the machines are actually in gear for this combination of technologies to make it into the next iPhone.”

As several iOSphere posts noted, there have been no rumors, let alone reports, of Liquidmetal in high-volume production for, say, smartphone-sized bezels instead of discrete components.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Must read: 10 new UI features coming to Windows 10