iPhone 6 rumor rollup for the week ending June 27

128, 4.7, 9-19, 2.5, mass production, and Epistemology

With the start of summer in June, we can now count the days until it ends in September with the expected unveiling of the iPhone 6. Pavlovian-like, the iOSphere seemed to salivate over a renewed spate of rumors, as if hearing them for the first time.

This week, there was new unfounded certainty that the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 will have a 128GB storage option; and that the 4.7-inch model will go on sale Sept. 19. Pulses raced on learning that mass production of the Next iPhones, or one of them anyhow, was just about to start, and would feature a glass cover somewhere between 2D and 3D.

Finally, the first iPhone 6 video appears online. And it’s convincing. Honest. It really is. No kidding.

You read it here second.

~ Nate Swanner, Slashgear, winner of this week’s Pinnacle of Epistemological Angst award, for telling his readers that the video is “as convincing as any we’ve seen” and also completely unconvincing, but none of that matters because we can be “more than certain” that the Next iPhone will look like today’s iPad/iPod…just because. 

iPhone 6 with 5.5-inch display will have 128-Gbytes storage option

Without bothering to sift through the even-more-than-usually-confusing speculation, some iOSpherian sites (such as AppleInsider) are claiming that a 5.5-inch iPhone 6 will offer users a 128GB storage option, with the rumored 4.7-inch iPhone 6 model maxing out at 64GB.

Surprisingly, AppleInsider doesn’t point out one obvious result of doubling the maximum storage: based on Apple’s historical pricing, the additional storage will add $100 to whatever will be the retail price of the large-screened phone.

AppleInsider says the original Chinese-language post at Feng.com was based on “sources familiar with Apple's supply chain.” In fact, according to our Google Translate version, the Chinese website confusingly refers to inferences drawn from information purportedly leaked from Deutsche Telekom, and circulated in a rash of iOSphere posting in May, and from “the latest reports from an Apple supply chain this year.”

So, who the heck knows?

The 128GB option has been speculated about for a long time. Interestingly, earlier this year, Apple added a lower storage option, 8GB, for the less expensive iPhone 5c, apparently to reduce its retail price even further in select overseas markets. In the U.S., the 5c is available with either 16G- or 32GB. According to Apple, the 5c has met sales expectations and has drawn a significant number of first-time iPhone buyers, many of them formerly Android users.

iPhone 6 with 4.7-inch display to “launch” Sept. 19

It all depends on what one means by “launch.” Apparently, it means here “to go on sale.” Oddly, few if any of the iOSphere sites did the math to figure out that if the iPhone 6 goes on sale Sept. 19, it is likely to be announced on Sept. 9 or 10.

This rumor originated on a Chinese website called Tencent Digital News, though picked up by other Chinese sites and thence, via GForGames, to the wider iOSphere.

In his MacRumors post about this rumor, Richard Padilla says the Tencent post was “citing inside sources.” But his own Google Translate version of the Chinese post to which GForGames linked (a post that is actually carried on the Chines site Laoyaoba.com, according to the URL) explicitly says that Tencent “did not reveal their sources.”

He also refers to the Tencent post as a “report,” suggesting there is actually, you know, reporting, which involves investigating, questioning, weighing of sources, and, of course, thinking.

Instead, we’re left with a totally unsubstantiated rumor from an unreliable website, which reaches back to the May Deutsche Telekom-based rumor about Sept. 19 as “evidence.”

September remains a sound expectation for the announcement and launch of whatever the iPhone 6 will be. That’s because September is 12 months after the announcement and launch of the iPhone 5c and 5s.

iPhone 6 starts mass production in July and you know what that means

Apple’s supply chain partners in China will start mass producing two new larger-screen iPhones in July, “according to people familiar with the plans.”

The Familiar People were the basis of a Bloomberg news story this week by Tim Culpan and Peter Burrows. If one assumes that the Next iPhones will be announced about 12 months after the 2013 models, then ramping up large-scale assembly at some point in the summer is what one would expect.

“Apple is ramping up on two bigger devices, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private,” according to the Bloomberg story. This should probably read “who asked not to be identified because they would be fired for blabbing.”

(In a possibly related story, ZDNet and other outlets picked up on a post - at Taiwan’s The Economic News Daily – that claims that Hon Hai (or Foxconn) and Pegatron are recruiting more workers “to cope with anticipated high demand for the rumored iPhone 6.” Foxconn is looking for 100,000 more worker bees while Pegatron “is expected to boost numbers at a key production plant by one third.”)

“One model will have a 4.7-inch display, compared to the 4-inch screen of the current iPhone 5s, that may be available to ship to retailers around September, said two of the people. A 5.5-inch version is also being prepared for manufacturing and may be available at the same time, the people said,” according to Bloomberg.

The claims about the 5.5-inch model are quite a bit less definite, raising some questions about how Apple might position it, what the company’s sales expectations are for it, and how it might be priced.

“Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook is under pressure to reignite Apple’s sales growth and the iPhone, which generates more than half of the company’s annual revenue, remains his chief weapon,” according to the opinion of the Bloomberg reporters.

You can see the historic growth patterns of iPhone quarterly sales in this chart from Statista, and form your own opinion. The two most recent quarters set quarterly sales records, and the Q2 fall-off in sales for the current fiscal year was actually less than last year – a drop of 14 percent compared to nearly 22 percent for the earlier period.

Apple is developing new iPhone designs including bigger screens with curved glass and enhanced sensors that can detect different levels of pressure, Bloomberg News reported in November. Called 2.5-dimension glass, the material lets manufacturers taper the edges of the screen where the bezel meets the frame of a smartphone.

iPhone 6 will have a display with “2.5-dimension glass”

So the obvious question is “what is 2.5-dimension glass?”

And the answer is “no one has the foggiest idea.”

The same Bloomberg story cited above also claims that “Apple is developing new iPhone designs including bigger screens with curved glass and enhanced sensors that can detect different levels of pressure, Bloomberg News reported in November. Called 2.5-dimension glass, the material lets manufacturers taper the edges of the screen where the bezel meets the frame of a smartphone.”

The Bloomberg story by Culpan and Burrows has a hyperlink but not to that November story, which you can find here. Culpan was a co-writer for that story, which begins “Apple Inc. is developing new iPhone designs including bigger screens with curved glass and enhanced sensors that can detect different levels of pressure, said a person familiar with the plans.” So technically, Bloomberg “reported” what one person claimed.

Nothing seems to have changed in seven months. To be fair, the Bloomberg writers note – correctly – that Apple is continually working on new phone designs and continually working with its partners on the designs, on the various elements, and on new materials. This complex experimentation and design process is actually a set of processes, at various stages, having different goals and timelines.

It’s almost impossible as a result to know if any given experiment is exploratory, or a prototype, or a pre-production model, or a final design.

The current Bloomberg story is getting widely reposted in the iOSphere, but no one seems to be asking what 2.5-dimension glass actually is, or whether it’s something to realistically expect in the 2014 iPhones. Searching Google for “2.5-dimension glass” simply turns up all the references to the Bloomberg story.

There’s also the issue of how this material relates – or whether it relates -- to Apple’s billion-dollar investment in synthetic sapphire production, presumably as a cover glass for iPhone displays.

As is often the case in the iOSphere, more is less.

iPhone 6 video shows possible final build of rear cover

That’s the full headline at Nate Swanner’s Slashgear post. The video shows “what appears to be a finished rear cover straight off the production line.”

Swanner is nothing but optimistic on what can be gleaned from the video first posted at the Japanese blog Mac Otakara. (You can also see it on Youtube.)

There’s the “cutout” in the back plate for the Apple logo. “Previously, we heard the Apple logo would actually be a cutout, allowing for the possibility of wireless charging and an IR blaster,” Swanner explains. “This leak shows that cutout in place, lending credence to a previously suspect rumor. Interesting little tidbit of info, there.”

“Little” being the operative word, there.

Swanner also seems reassured that the “rear cover also doesn’t look damaged in any way…” That’s because the “anodizing process was said to be damaging the metal where it meets plastic (on the edges).” Horrors.

He continues: “While it’s not known just what those issues were/are/could be, the model in the video doesn’t seem to be compromised at all.” So, it’s not known whether there was actually any problem at all.

But could this case be a fake? “The interior of the case looks as convincing as any we’ve seen,” Swanner authoritatively assures his readers. That assurance sounds as convincing as any we’ve heard, for sure. “There are various connection points and cutouts for interior parts. The inside is also raw in appearance; shiny where the outside is matte and colored.”

We’re convinced, too. At least until Swanner tells us not to be.

“As convincing as it is, there’s enough reason to doubt it,” he suddenly warns. Wait. What? “Conflicting rumors lend themselves to cancel each other out, leaving us all in the dark. It’s also possible this is a crafty fake, made from those leaked schematics we saw not long ago.”

Talk about Epistemological Angst. But Swanner reverses course again, because it turns out that it doesn’t matter if the metal casing is real or a fake. “Either way, it seems more than certain the new iPhone will look a lot like a small iPad/big iPod,” he concludes.

Thank heavens that has been settled.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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