4 Apple iPhone 6 Rumors Making the Rounds This Week
The rumors and speculation about Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) upcoming iPhone 6 models showed no sign of slowing down this past week. Besides the usual appearance of alleged iPhone 6 components, the end of July also saw new rumors about the device’s specific release date, as well as rumors about the production of the sapphire screen for the iPhone 6. While most industry watchers believe that Apple will release the next-generation iPhone in two larger screen sizes of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, it seems that most other details about the highly anticipated devices are still up for dispute. Here are the latest iPhone 6 rumors that have been attracting Apple aficionados’ attention over the past week.
1. Purported iPhone 6 logic boards leaked
The source: Images of what are purported to be the logic boards for the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 models were spotted on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo by French tech website Nowhereelse.fr. Weibo is a popular forum for Apple component leakers and these images were posted by a Chinese repair company called GeekBar earlier this week. In the image above, the logic board for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6, or “iPhone Air,” can be seen on the far left. The logic board for the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 can be seen on the far right, while the logic board for the current flagship iPhone 5S is between the two leaked components for comparison purposes.
The most obvious design difference between the iPhone 5S logic board and the logic boards for the iPhone 6 models is the size of the extension coming off the upper portion of the boards, which reflects the increased width of the new models. While the logic boards are missing the various chips that will be included in the finished device — such as the A8 processor — a GeekBar team member contacted by Nowhereelse.fr claimed that one of the empty spaces is intended to hold a Near Field Communications (NFC) chip.
The background: While it is impossible to confirm the authenticity of the logic boards depicted in this image, the components’ superficial design similarities to the iPhone 5S logic board and the inclusion of part numbers that are consistent with Apple’s part numbering system are both indications that these logic boards are genuine iPhone 6 parts. On the other hand, it is less clear if the boards actually confirm that Apple’s next-generation devices will include support for NFC technology. Several industry watchers have long predicted that Apple will introduce a mobile payments service with the iPhone 6 models. However, there is some dispute over what wireless protocol Apple will use for the service. A report from BrightWire earlier this year claimed that Apple would adopt the widely used NFC technology that many Android-based smartphone makers currently use. However, a report from The Information last month suggested that Apple might adopt a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi-based protocol.
2. Sapphire shortage for iPhone 6 models?
The source: Falling prices in the sapphire substrate industry during July suggest that Apple has not initiated the large-scale production of sapphire screens for the iPhone 6, according to a recent report from market research firm TrendForce. This means that Apple will likely have a limited production of sapphire-covered iPhone 6 models. On a related note, TrendForce also cast doubt on the possible use of sapphire covers for the iWatch due to the device’s small size and its use of flexible OLED panels.
The background: The scale of Apple’s sapphire plans may be one of the most disputed rumors about the iPhone 6. While it is known that Apple has made substantial investments in sapphire manufacturing facilities run by GT Advanced Technologies (NASDAQ:GTAT), analysts are divided over the iPhone maker’s plans for this durable display material. PTT Research analyst Matt Margolis contends that GT Advanced Technologies’ facilities are capable of producing enough sapphire for both iPhone 6 models, as well as the iWatch. However, many other analysts argue that Apple will only be able to produce enough sapphire for a limited number of iPhones due to cost issues and manufacturing difficulties associated with sapphire production.
On the other hand, it is unclear if TrendForce’s report takes into account the possibility that Apple is implementing a sapphire laminate or sapphire composite solution. Last month, multiple videos showing a purported iPhone 6 screen undergoing various stress tests emerged online. Although the screen appeared to be more scratch-resistant than the Corning (NYSE:GLW) Gorilla Glass currently used in Apple’s mobile devices, it was not as scratch-resistant as pure sapphire. If Apple has developed a proprietary sapphire composite material that uses less sapphire, it would explain why TrendForce hasn’t seen the expected price increases in the sapphire substrate industry. More recently, a report from MIT Technology Review revealed that GT Advanced Technologies has developed a new method for separating sapphire into thin sheets that may lower the overall costs associated with sapphire screen production.
3. Will the release of the iPhone 6 be pushed to October?
The source: According to an insider source cited by MacRumors, Apple may be launching the iPhone 6 on Tuesday, October 14, following a product unveiling on Tuesday, September 16. The source allegedly got this information from an internal Apple Retail Store meeting. However, it was not clear if this launch date applied to both the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models.
The background: Releasing the iPhone 6 on Tuesday, October 14would be a change from Apple’s two-year pattern of releasing its new iPhones on a Friday in September. The source claimed that the decision to launch earlier in the week was based on the high consumer demand expected for the device, as well as a plentiful supply of devices due to a large production effort. However, no reason was offered for why the release date was being pushed into October. It should also be noted that the month-long gap between the product’s announcement and the subsequent release would be another unusual move for Apple, since the company has traditionally released its iPhones one week after the announcement event. Several previous rumors have pegged the iPhone 6 release date for Friday, September 19.
4. Purported iPhone 6 home button and induction flex cable components leaked
The source: Once again, French tech website Nowhereelse.fr was able to obtain images of purported components for both upcoming iPhone models. While both of the home button components for the two iPhone 6 models are designed differently from the equivalent component in the iPhone 5S, they are also designed differently from each other. While only one iPhone 6 induction flex cable component was acquired, it also showed significant design changes from the flex cable found in the iPhone 5S. As noted by Nowhereelse.fr, the iPhone 6 flex cable includes a proximity and light sensor, but lacks the camera sensor that was attached to the iPhone 5S flex cable.
The background: Like the previously discussed logic boards, the home button and flex cable components also feature identification numbers that are consistent with genuine Apple parts. While many of the design differences between the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 “Air,” and iPhone 5S home button components are likely due to the size differences of each model, some of the differences may also be due to hardware improvements implemented in the Touch ID module. According to industry sources cited by the China Times earlier this year, Apple made design changes that will improve the durability of the Touch ID modules in the next-generation devices.
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