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iPhone 6 rumor rollup for the week ending Sept. 20

Sapphire gleaming, Big Things, solar secrets, NFC angst

By , Network World
September 20, 2013 05:34 PM ET
iPhone 6

Network World - With the official announcement and, today, release of iPhone 5S and 5C, the iOSphere returns to its regular iPhone 6 rumor nomenclature. But things would be simpler if Apple simply used "iPhone 2014."

This week, there were rumors of new and bigger uses for those cool sapphire glass covers; revelations about the Biggest Things fans really, really want in the next iPhone (and you, too, will be underwhelmed by them); scifi rumoring about solar charging that cross-our-heart-and-hope-to-die actually works; and still more angst on the Great Apple Failure to support NFC-based mobile payments.

You read it here second.

“If they don’t put NFC in an iPhone soon, they risk being a technology laggard.”
Mark Hung, analyst, Gartner (quoted in the Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog), despite the facts that 1) Hung earlier said there are less than 100,000 NFC readers being used in the U.S., and 2) there’s no sign of an imminent mobile payments tsunami that will leave laggardly Apple under water.

iPhone 6 will have a sapphire touchscreen cover

The advent of the iPhone 5S home button with its “sapphire glass” cover, and a recently announced Apple patent, have the iOSphere agog about a really big sapphire cover – one covering the display of the, yes, 2014 iPhone, now generally called iPhone 6.

Sapphire glass is actually corundum, a crystalline form of aluminum oxide. Apple first used the super tough, and super costly, transparent material for the iPhone 5 lens cover. It now covers the 5S integrated home button with Touch ID fingerprint scanner.

The juxtaposition and extrapolation of unrelated events was effortlessly achieved by PhonesReview in a post announced that “use of sapphire [may be] expanded further so that it features in the touch screen cover as well as the home button.”

The source of this revelation? A three-paragraph post, which PhonesReview graciously calls a “report,” at Taiwan-based DigiTimes. Citing “Taiwan-based sapphire makers,” DigiTimes claims that “Apple is expected to extend the use of sapphire glass home keys” to its upcoming new iPads and “for making touch screen covers for its new iPhone to be launched in 2014.”

The technology basis for PhonesReview speculation is a recently published patent application by Apple, originally filed in March 2013. Information on the patent was reported by PatentlyApple in a post earlier this month. 

Apple’s patent is for a technique of laminating sheets of sapphire to both side of the glass layer users in mobile displays. It would create a highly scratch-resistant surface and presumably make the glass less subject to breaking or cracking.

Whether a technology just entering the patent process in 2013 will be ready in 2014 for the next iPhone is very much an open question. The Rollup is skeptical: making the technology work is one thing; making it manufacturable, on a large scale that’s affordable and that also achieves quality goals, is another thing entirely.

iPhone 6 needs to have four really Big Things

Just in case Apple hasn’t figured out what its fan expect for iPhone 6, Tyler McCarthy at, explains it to Cupertino in a post headlined, “iPhone 6 Rumors: 4 Biggest Things Fans Expect for Apple's Next Smartphone.” 

Fans expect a larger display, because of the “growing trend of smartphones leaning toward bigger, phablet-sized, displays.” McCarthy reminds us of a Reuters story “a few weeks back” that said Apple was testing a 5.7-inch phone display (they’ve been testing various sizes for years). “[I]t's not surprising that Apple would try and look into the technology,” he says.

Fans expect water and dust resistance. “This one seems like a no-brainer,” McCarthy says, perhaps optimistically. He seems to think that the Samsung's Galaxy S4 Active, with its water- and dust-resistant features, “has provided more rugged people with the option to keep a smartphone on them at all times.” Apple clearly needs to reach out to the under-served More Rugged People segment.

Fans also expect an Infrared Blaster on iPhone 6 to operate Apple TV, just like the one in Galaxy S4. Keep in mind that this is No.3 on McCarthy’s list of the four “biggest” features that iPhone fans want.

Finally, fans want a 128GB iPhone model. This is all the more urgent, McCarthy claims, because Apple introduced Touch ID in iPhone 5S. “With the Touch ID fingerprint scanner, Apple is encouraging people to keep more information on their smartphone now that it is supposedly safe,” McCarthy explains. “With that [new feature,] users would likely benefit from the extra storage space now that they can think of it as secure.”

Color us under-whelmed. Plenty of people still insist Apple must, simply must, release an iPhone with a bigger-than-4-inch-screen, but “they” also insisted Apple must, simply must release a really cheap iPhone. And look what we got.

iPhone 6 will have solar charging

Although,” Michael Nace, editor of iPhone6NewsBlog, tells his readers that, apparently, it is.

“The first in what will most likely be a long line of rumors related to the iPhone 6 claims that Apple will make good on several patents related to solar recharging for the iPhone,” announces Michael Nace, at his iPhone6NewsBlog. 

And then his next sentence says that, actually, “the notion of a solar charging feature on an iPhone is nothing new.” It joins the long line of rumored power sources, including fuel cells and curved batteries. We’re holding out for the miniaturized fusion reactor.

Nace says there are “plenty of third-party options” if you want to recharge your iPhone battery using solar radiation. There’s one little problem, though. “None of these products, however, are considered to be viable enough to foster mainstream appeal, and for the most part, solar charging arrays for the iPhone tend to be used more as emergency, last-ditch-effort features for giving just a bit of juice to a dead iPhone,” he says.

He claims there is a “new rumor” that “Apple will change the face of solar charging for smartphones next year by implementing well-establish patents for an iPhone 6 battery that will feature a solar charging panel that actually works.”

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