Several major stories about Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) upcoming iPhone 6 models emerged from various supply chain sources and analysts this week, including rumors about the next-generation devices’ production schedule and launch dates, as well as the usual leaked images of iPhone 6 components. Here are the four major iPhone 6 rumors circulating this week.
1. Has the Launch of the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Been Delayed?
The source: For Apple fans that can’t wait to get their hands on a phablet-sized iPhone, the week kicked off with a somewhat disheartening rumor from well-connected KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. According to Kuo’s note to investors obtained by 9to5Mac, several of Apple’s suppliers are struggling with yield issues for some of the key components for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6, including the in-cell touch panel and the metal casing. As a result of these production issues, Kuo doesn’t believe Apple can launch the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 in September, when the 4.7-inch model is still expected to make its debut.
“We are conservative about 5.5-inch iPhone launching by end-2014,” wrote Kuo according to 9to5Mac. “Even if the product is launched in 2014, it is likely to take place after mid-4Q14, which is later than the September-October of consensus, with shipments being lower than consensus of 15- 20mn units.”
The background: While Kuo has a fairly good track record for predicting hardware components or design elements that will be found on Apple’s future devices, his predictions about the arrival dates of products can sometimes be off. On the other hand, a recent report from Taiwan’s Economic Daily News may support his Kuo’s prediction of a delayed 5.5-inch iPhone 6 launch. According to Economic Daily News’ sources, production of the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 will begin in mid-August, about a month after production of the 4.7-inch model started.
However, this production schedule doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple will push the release of the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 into 2015. The staggered production schedule may simply reflect Apple’s expectations that the 5.5-inch model won’t be as popular as the 4.7-inch model and therefore requires less production time before launch.
2. New Apple Suppliers Solve iPhone 6 Battery Crisis
The source: Taiwan’s Economic Daily News was also the source for this rumor about Apple’s battery production issues that was first spotted by GforGames. According to Economic Daily News’ sources, Dynapack — the company that successfully supplied the battery for Apple’s iPhone 5 — was unable to deliver the ultrathin battery that is required for the iPhone 6. According to a previous report from Taiwan’s Commercial Times, Apple had asked its battery suppliers to produce a battery that was 2 millimeters or less in thickness.
Fortunately, Apple has already found two other suppliers that should be able to fill the production gap left by Dynapack. One of the new suppliers — Simplo Technology — has reportedly already demonstrated its ability to produce a battery that meets Apple’s stringent standards. Although Economic Daily News reported that the other new supplier — Desay — was still working on solving the production difficulties associated with the battery’s thinness, a recently leaked image of a Desay-manufactured iPhone 6 battery from NowhereElse.fr suggests that the production issues may have already been resolved there as well.
The background: The story about Apple suppliers’ battery production problems follows last week’s rumor that suggested the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 model will feature a battery with a capacity between 1,800 and 1,900 mAh, while the 5.5-inch model will come equipped with a 2,500 mAh battery. The image of a purported 1,810 mAh battery for a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 obtained by NowhereElse.fr appears to confirm this previous rumor.
While the rumored iPhone 6 battery capacity lags the capacities of batteries used for similarly sized Android-based smartphones, it appears that Apple sacrificed the extra battery capacity in order to maintain a slim profile for the new iPhone 6 models. It should also be pointed out that Apple’s next-generation A8 processor and iOS 8 software enhancements will also likely help extend the iPhone 6’s overall battery life.
3. Revamped Touch ID Sensor Images Leaked
The source: Images of what is purported to be a redesigned Touch ID fingerprint sensor component for the iPhone 6 were spotted earlier this week by NowhereElse.fr on Japanese tech site Ascii.jp. As seen in the image above, the iPhone 6 Touch ID component has several design differences when compared to the iPhone 5S Touch ID component.
The background: This component leak adds further credence to a report from the China Times last month that stated that Apple was implementing design changes in the next-generation Touch ID component that would improve its durability. Apple’s Touch ID components are manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (NYSE:TSM) and according to the China Times, the company began shipping the first batches of the fingerprint sensor assembly earlier this month.
4. Will Apple’s iPhone 6 Feature a 13-Megapixel Camera Sensor?
The source: A recent post on Sony (NYSE:SNE) product rumor forum Digi-Wo that was spotted by GforGames suggested that Apple may finally be boosting the pixel count of the iPhone camera. According to the source, Apple’s iPhone 6 will include Sony’s Exmor IMX220 camera sensor. The camera component features a 13-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch sensor that is capable of shooting 1080p video.
The background: Apple has traditionally favored using other methods to boost image quality besides increasing the camera’s pixel count. As a result, Apple’s current flagship iPhone 5S model uses the same the 8-megapixel rear camera sensor that was first introduced in the iPhone 4S.
Assuming this rumor is true, the switch to a 13-megapixel camera sensor would mark a major hardware upgrade for Apple’s iPhone. According to GforGames, the source of this rumor has a good track record when it comes to rumors about Sony’s products. On the other hand, this rumor contradicts predictions made by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who noted that both iPhone 6 models will retain the 8-megapixel rear camera sensor. Kuo also predicted that the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 models will offer two different levels of voice coil motor camera technology according to a research note obtained by AppleInsider. Either way, it appears that Apple will be unveiling some major camera improvements in the iPhone 6.
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