iPhone 6 rumor rollup for the week ending Jan. 24

Dual iPhone 6's, another vote for 4.8-inch screen, no sale

iPhone 6

Picture a cow chewing its cud. Then picture it chewing its cud while on amphetamines, and you get an idea of the iOSphere during the past week.

Yet again, there was a frenzy of rumor rehashing. For example, new rumors of two iPhone 6s, both with much bigger screens than today’s 4-inch display, still based on anonymous sources. In this case, anonyms “familiar with the situation.”

One Wall Street analyst got specific, predicting a 4.8-inch screen. Previously, and still, there are predictions of 4.7 inches and 4.9 inches. Perhaps he decided to split the difference, which is a good a basis for a prediction as the familiars.

There was a momentary thrill when bloggers drooled over an anonymous YouTube video showing parts from an iPhone 6 “taken at an Apple factory!” The metal body was clearly made of the wondrous Liquidmetal and it was clearly larger than the current iPhone 5S. Until someone pointed out it was from the iPhone 4S. Which is just pedestrian aluminum and…smaller.

Finally, early release sirens went off when someone woke up and realized that all these incredible iPhone 5S and 5C discounts Meant Something Big, namely that Apple was clearing out inventory to pave the way for iPhone 6, whose announcement could therefore happen at any moment for the next six months at least.

You read it here second.

It's been widely expected that Apple will launch an iPhone with a larger screen, but this is the first solid indication that Apple could be launching phones in multiple screen sizes….

— Jordan Golson, MacRumors, who bases this assurance entirely on the fact that it was the Wall Street Journal this week rather than, well, MacRumors, writing a story about big-screen iPhone 6’s, based on anonymous, unsupported sources.

iPhone 6 will come in two models with bigger screens

“It's been widely expected that Apple will launch an iPhone with a larger screen, but this is the first solid indication that Apple could be launching phones in multiple screen sizes…,” Jordan Golson assures his readers at MacRumors

His faith in the Mainstream Media is touching. This “first solid indication” is a story this week in the Wall Street Journal that Apple has in varying stages of development two future iPhones with larger-than-4-inch screens. The story is behind a paywall but MarketWatch has what appears to be the opening few paragraphs. 

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Golson’s faith in the Mainstream Media is touching. He and others are “reporting” that the Journal is reporting that Apple will have larger-screen iPhones. In fact, the Journal is only reporting that unnamed “people familiar with the situation” say that Apple “plans larger displays on a pair of iPhones due for release this year.” There’s no indication who these people are, how they are familiar with the plans or even what “familiar” means here. Since the same rumor, including the time frame, has been “reported” for most of the past 12 months, this doesn’t add much.

Unless, like Golson, you make a leap of faith that the Journal’s sources are better than those of other news sites and bloggers. Like BGR’s Brad Reed, whose conclusion from the story is “It looks like Apple is taking a page from Samsung in more ways than one” – not just a bigger screen but two bigger screens, you know, like the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and Galaxy Note 3. If you can’t innovate, imitate.

The Journal’s unnamed sources say that Apple is developing one phone with a screen “larger than 4½ inches measured diagonally, and a second version with a display bigger than 5 inches.” The phones are “expected in the second half” of 2014.

Then there’s this: “The smaller of the two models is further along in development, and is being prepared for mass production, the people said. The larger-screen version is still in preliminary development, they said.”

Apple is a model of supply chain efficiency but, to The Rollup, it seems a big of a stretch to infer that a smartphone model that is currently “still in preliminary development” is going to be ready for mass production by late summer or fall 2014.

Time’s Harry McCracken, commenting on the Journal story, raised the issue of how Apple will address OS and application sizing with possibly three different screen sizes. “What’s tricky is rejiggering iOS to accommodate a new screen size,” he writes. “(Unlike Android, iOS isn’t designed to fluidly reconfigure itself for whatever screen size it finds itself on.)” If Apple goes with larger screens, he thinks that “Apple will make significant adjustments to iOS to deal with new resolutions” and those adjustments are likely to be revealed at the June 2013 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.

It’s not clear to The Rollup that Apple would have to make “significant adjustments” in iOS, if the term refers to rewriting a lot of code. Assuming iOS uses a modular architecture, it may be possible for Apple to “unplug” the chunk of code dealing with resolution and replace it with one that can dynamically adjust to different size iPhone screens, though that is undoubtedly oversimplifying the decisions Apple has to make in increasing the screen’s size and presumably resolution and pixel density.

Presumably, app developers then get a tweaked interface to use, though at least some apps may have to be at least partly rewritten to make proper use of different screen sizes.

iPhone 6 parts appear in Youtube video. Oh…wait…

There was a tremor in the iOSphere for a few hours Friday morning when a YouTube video appeared (we’re not posting a link to it, you can search the site for “MrVoolp” to find it) which claimed to be “iphone 6 parts!!!. This video was filmed at the Apple Factory.”

Some were dazzled. At TechieNews, Abhishek Gohel burbled that “The video shows off a unibody-constructed smartphone shell, which is claimed to be of iPhone 6.”

Despite the graininess and blur, Gohel was able to discern Very Important Features. “The shell is of a larger form factor and seems to be made from Liquidmetal,” he declared, though how he would know it’s Liquidmetal isn’t explained. “Further, the shell seems to be taller and in line with latest reports of a larger screened iPhone 6.”

BusinessInsider’s Steve Kovach offered his keen-eyed appraisal, too. “While there's nothing in the video to give you a perception of how large the shell is, you can tell the ratio of the screen size is a bit wider than the iPhone 5S/5C,” he assured readers. “That likely means the screen would be larger.”

There you have it.

Or had it, until MacRumors’ Editor Eric Slivka, @wildcowboy, tweeted the following: “Video of ‘iPhone 6 chassis’ starting to make the rounds. It's an iPhone 4s part.”

The 4S height is 4.5 inches compared to the 5S height of 4.87 inches, which means the mystery part that people think shows a larger-screen iPhone…actually shows a smaller-screen iPhone.

There you have it.

iPhone 6 will have 4.8-inch screen and 11ac Wi-Fi

This week another Wall Street analyst offered his guess (usually disguised as a “note to investors” or NTI) that Apple for sure will have a bigger-than-four-inch screen on the iPhone 6.

AppleInsider picked up on the latest NTI, this one by Timothy Arcuri of Cowen and Company. Apparently Arcuri claims in the note that Apple has “locked down” the phone’s design, which will feature a 4.8-inch display and the high-throughput 11ac Wi-Fi Apple introduced 11ac in 2013 on some Macs and router products but not yet in its phones or tablets.

Acuri’s predictions are based apparently on his talks with people in the supply chain, though it’s not clear he means Apple’s supply chain specifically or just various Asian contract manufacturers.

He also predicts, that “Apple is planning ‘key software innovations,’” according the AppleInsider post. “He expects the company will leverage iBeacon [a Bluetooth Low Energy radio], Touch ID [the integrated fingerprint scanner], and Passbook [which collects stuff like movie tickets, loyalty cards, coupons] as part of a push into new services with mobile payments.”

It seems likely that all three of these features eventually will play a role in a system of mobile payments. Whether that system – which will entail Apple partnering with an array of outside parties and possibly making some major infrastructure investments - will be ready in the latter half of 2014 remains to be seen.

iPhone 6 about to be released because iPhone 5S is on sale

You may have noticed that you can buy an iPhone 5S right now for less than the “official” Apple price of $199 for the 16GB model.

But you probably didn’t notice the Real Meaning of the price cut. Now you do, thanks to the shrewd analysis by Monica Walken, at MotoringCrunch. The headline of her post sums it up succinctly and colorfully: “Early Release Schedule Sirens Go Off As 5S Falls Into Bargain Bin.”

“It was only September last year when both the iPhone 5s & 5c got launched and prices for both devices have been going down the charts ever since,” she declares. “Today, both the iPhone 5s & 5c are relatively affordable and consumers can get them for a steal.”

One doesn’t usually find “relatively affordable” equated with “a steal.” Relatively affordable means that something is…well, relatively affordable. A steal is something you get for nothing, or almost nothing.

“Walmart is selling away the iPhone 5c for just $27 instead of $99,” Walken says. “This deal is only applicable with a two-year contract.”

Walken seems to be referring to the limited-time offer that Walmart launched in December. On Walmart’s online site, if you search selecting “iOS,” you can’t find any iPhone today (Jan. 24) with a pricetag that remotely resembles $27. Or even $99.

“It isn’t just with Walmarts,” Walken assures her readers. “Other retailers like BestBuy and Mac Mall are into it as well. The latter has the best offer for the iPhone 5S. The 32GB is going away for a mere $120 whereas the 16GB variants have a price tag of $20.”

Searching MacMall for “iPhone 5S” brings up results that show the cheapest iPhone 5S is a 16GB model, for $99, with a two-year Verizon Wireless Contract. At Best Buy, the same search shows the 16GB iPhone 5S being offered by AT&T Wireless, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless – all with a two-year contract -- for $150, a discount of about $50 from the regular, standard price.

“It is not like these retailers are putting up offers at their own free will,” Walken asserts. “Apple is known to control the pricing of its product. Despite that fact, it is a wonder why the phone-vendor is gradually decreasing the prices of these devices.”

It’s a wonder all right. And she has an answer to the wonderment. “Tech-savvy forums have been hinting that there will be an early iPhone 6 launch,” Walken says. “This could be why Apple is giving away the iPhone 5S and 5C for a bargain.”

Perhaps the wailing of the early release siren is making it hard for Walken to think clearly. When one thinks of Apple, the word “bargain” isn’t the first word that comes to mind. From what The Rollup recalls, the carriers and retailers buy their iPhones from Apple, which gets the money – a lot of money - upfront.

For the carriers, there is a powerful “iPhone Network Effect” – subscribers with iPhones apparently do a lot more web surfing and other activities that consume data, and the carriers sell data plans. The more data that subscribers use, the more likely they are to want a data plan with a higher cap. The iPhone Network Effect is plenty of incentive to offer a range of promotions and discounts, all year long, to entice new phone users or upgraders.

Neither Apple nor the carriers appear to have talked in public about what pricing constraints or requirements Apple imposes on companies reselling the iPhone.

So the idea that a Walmart discount or a Walmart-and-Best Buy-and-MacMall discount is a hint, let alone proof, of the any-moment-now announcement of the iPhone 6 is a fantasy.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnwwjohn_cox@nww.com




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