iPhone 6 rumor rollup for the week ending Feb. 1

A plastic future, cheaper than Samsung, blurbs on blurs

The iOSphere was assured this week that it now knows the details of one of the Next iPhones, though this one is said to be not the iPhone 6 or even the iPhone 5S but the "budget iPhone 5," or iPhone 5B.

Blurry photographs, later removed, of "leaked" iPhone components provided the excuse for confident declarations that the Next iPhone will be way smaller than the iPhone 5. Because, you know, the leaked components are smaller. The connection is obvious.

Finally, the Next iPhone, or one of them anyway, is going to $300 cheaper than the Next Samsung Galaxy S. Which means the Next iPhone also will have to be pretty close to $300 cheaper than the current iPhone 5. Plastic may not be enough to get us there. Could Apple be planning on introducing slave labor to the supply chain? Or becoming a nonprofit?

You read it here second.


"The speaker module which is apparently meant for the iPhone 6 appears to be significantly smaller than the one destined for the iPhone 5S, suggesting Apple will dramatically reduce the size of its flagship handset once the 5S is out of the way."

— John McCann, at TechRadar.com, showing how easy it is to interpret blurry photographs, of what anonymous sources claim are leaked iPhone components, as revealing vital news about the Next iPhone.


iPhone 6 will actually be the "budget iPhone 5" ... at least for China

iLounge's Jeremy Horowitz declared this week that he has ended all speculation about what the long-but-vaguely rumored "budget 'ready for China' iPhone" will actually look like.

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In "New Details On Apple's Budget iPhone 5," Horowitz confidently writes that "unless something major changes between now and its release, we know pretty much what the new low-end iPhone will look like, thanks to reliable sources."

No need to know more than that: sources; who are reliable. And the Reliable Sources have told him that the future is plastic.

"Yes, it will be made substantially from plastic," he reveals. "This new model is actually a cross between the iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod touch, and... wait for it... the iPod classic. Yes, really. It will have a 4" screen, like the iPhone 5, a bottom like the latest iPod touch, and a shape that's most similar to the iPod classic."

So the iPhone 5B will be just like three other devices. Only completely different.

The dimensions will be just smidgins larger than the iPhone 5. "From the front, the new iPhone looks almost identical to the iPhone 5 -- the same exact shape, with the same sensor, camera, and button arrangement." It will have a 1136 x 640 display. "The circular volume buttons of the iPhone 4, 4S, and 5 will shift to elongated, pill-shaped designs closer to the iPod touch and iPhone 3G/3G."

And "the most significant change Apple will make is in the curves." Instead of the vertical curved corners of the iPhone 5, the iPhone 5B corners will curve downward and inward. "In summary, the budget iPhone will look a lot like an iPhone 5 from the front, an iPod classic from the side, and an iPod touch 5G on the bottom," Horowitz summarizes.

Assuming that Horowitz's reliable sources are in fact reliable, his opening sentence suggests that this budget iPhone is only targeted at the Chicom market, or possibly other emerging overseas economies. He made that point in another post a few days earlier: The "'low-cost' plastic-bodied iPhone, which is being developed with China Mobile in mind. ... A budget iPhone model would help sales in populous but underdeveloped countries to grow."

Horowitz doesn't say what a budget iPhone means, pricewise. But fortunately the iOSphere hates an information vacuum and other rumors appeared, almost like magic ...

iPhone 6 will be $300 cheaper than Samsung Galaxy S IV

In an "article" that reads more like a transcribed opium dream, Kristin Dian Mariano, in the International Business Times, "reports" that the "upcoming iPhone 6 may cost less than rival Samsung Galaxy S4."

In other words, one unannounced product may cost less than another unannounced product. Of from another perspective, one unannounced product may cost more than another unannounced product.

And the basis for this Dramatic Insight? "New rumours claimed that Apple is considering revising its pricing strategy, especially for the iPhone, in order to compete with companies offering low-priced devices such as Samsung."

Not all that new: The iOSphere has been billowing with rumors that Apple will or should create a lower-priced iPhone for years.

"The upcoming iPhone will probably cost around $300 less than its rival," Mariano confidently assures us. Currently, Apple lists the price of an unlocked 16GB iPhone 5 at $649; Samsung's site links to Best Buy, which offers the unlocked Samsung Galaxy S III (storage not indicated) for $700, midway between the 16GB and 32GB iPhone models.

Mariano doesn't really explore how Apple could cut the price of the iPhone by nearly 50%, though there is a reference to a months-old news story, by The Wall Street Journal, that claimed "Apple is seriously considering releasing a low-priced iPhone" by substituting a plastic body for an aluminum one. Though, if memory serves, that story was actually about designing a different, lower-priced iPhone model [cf. Horowitz, op. cit.] that would be offered with the high-end iPhone.

Other options, not mentioned by Mariano, are introducing slave labor in the supply chain; or becoming a nonprofit corporation.

But somehow it will get done. Because "Apple executives were alarmed that the company is losing its dominance in the market." Alarmed. Shaken not stirred. Panic-stricken. And no wonder. "Consumers are paying attention to smartphones with affordable pricing but offers great features and performance." There are products on the market that are ... Less Expensive Than Apple's.

But NPD Group just reported that in Q4 2012, Apple umm dominated the U.S. smartphone market: its share was 39%, down 2 points from Q4 2011. Samsung's share jumped to 30%, up from 21% in the year-ago quarter. And the top-selling five smartphone models in the U.S. for Q4 were, in order, iPhone 5, Galaxy S III, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, Galaxy S II.

The IBT post "seems like a bit of a wild stab in the dark, if we're honest, as it appears to be an assertion primarily based on the fact that several sources have recently claimed Apple will offer a lower-priced iPhone," writes Paul Briden, at Know Your Mobile, nicely summarizing how rumors are born and nurtured in the iOSphere.

"Apple may well be reconsidering its pricing structure but is likely doing so only to offer lower-end options too," Briden writes. "We doubt very much if it will abandon its premium structure entirely."

Still. Never underestimate what alarmed executives can do when gripped by panic.

iPhone 6 will have different speakers and be smaller

The iOSphere thrilled when sites like SlashGear discovered on the French tech site NoWhereElse.com (or NME as its fondly called) "photos of what appear to be next-generation iPhone parts ... with suggestions of the iPhone 5S and even an iPhone 6 on the way within the year," as Chris Burns breathlessly described the revelations

And not to keep anyone in suspense, here's one of the photos as it appears now on NME. 

To say this is "blurry" doesn't quite do justice to the extent of its formlessness. Frankly, our best guess is this is a repurposed closeup of a zombie's eyes sockets just before he sinks his teeth into you.

Not even the iOSphere could call this a "purported photo." In a notably convoluted sentence, Burns writes, "This set of photos comes from a tipster speaking with NME that they've subsequently said has requested that the photos be blurred out." According to the Google translation of NME's original French language post, the source of the photographs "contacted us to let us know that he regretted having shared these photos and wish for us to remove our article.

Regret? In the iOSphere? How ... quaint.

In any case, Burns manfully soldiers on, aided if only marginally by the original photo (with the corresponding iPhone 5 part superimposed) as it first appeared on NME. "Since these photos of the innards of devices are essentially blurrier already than we'd care to think about, let's have a look and see what we can see."

The answer is much clearer than the photos: not very much. NME says the new parts are the "block speaker" for the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6. And sure enough, they look different from the "block speaker" component of the current iPhone.

"The information surrounding these components it scant, with the supplier only suggesting that they've gotten their hands on Apple-bound bits and pieces," Burns admits, in the kind of understatement that's a hallmark of iOSphere rumoring.

"What we're seeing here is something that's exciting only because of the ever-so-slight but telling differences between these and past Apple components, these suggesting a new device or a new setup in the near future," according to SlashGear's Burns. He is, apparently, easily excitable.

Yet Burns can't and doesn't actually tell us what is "telling" about the differences. You take a picture that purports to be of a part for the Next iPhone. Then you take a picture of the corresponding part in the existing iPhone. Compare, conclude, blog. Even if the conclusion amounts to, "Yep: it's different."

TechRadar's John McCann boldly goes where Burns doesn't. Despite headlining his post "Blurry shots fail to instill confidence in iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 leaks," McCann is confident enough to draw very specific conclusions. "The speaker module which is apparently meant for the iPhone 6 appears to be significantly smaller than the one destined for the iPhone 5S, suggesting Apple will dramatically reduce the size of its flagship handset once the 5S is out of the way," McCann declares.

It's simple: a smaller part means a smaller iPhone!

"At the moment we've not gotten solid information on any physical changes to the next-generation versions of the iPhone or iPad," the more cautious Burns concludes.

But don't worry: something will be changed.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. : @johnwcoxnww john_cox@nww.com



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