6 Apple Rumors Making the Rounds This Week: iPhone 6, iWatch, and More

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Although Apple’s highly anticipated media event is less than a week away, the rumor mill is still churning out plenty of whispers and speculation about what exactly will be revealed. However, since it is generally accepted that Apple will unveil a wearable product alongside two new iPhone models with larger screen sizes of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, many of this week’s rumors focused on the possible features that might be found in all three of those products. This week’s batch of Apple rumors also included talk about the company’s expected mobile payments system, rare rumors about the upcoming iPad Air 2, and, of course, the inevitable iPhone component leak.

This week also spawned a short lived rumor that U2 would make an appearance or somehow be tied in with the debut of the iPhone 6. According to MacRumors, the rumor emerged after a mysterious video shoot that U2 did in Dublin last weekend. While a U2 spokesperson supposedly issued a denial via the Irish Independent, the article that documented the denial was subsequently taken down.

So is it a cover-up or just an innocuous website glitch? Either way, fans of Apple should be able to see any potential U2 appearance from the comfort of their homes since the company announced on Thursday that it will be streaming live video of the event from its website. In case you’ve forgotten when this much-hyped event starts, Apple also provided a handy countdown clock. In the meantime, here’s our countdown of the biggest Apple rumors that surfaced this week.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

1. Apple is lining up mobile payments system partners

The source: This week, multiple rumors emerged about which companies might be partnering with Apple to enable its expected mobile payments system. On Sunday, Re/Code cited sources that reported Apple had reached an agreement with American Express. Another report from Bloomberg that also cited unnamed sources, claimed that Apple had reached similar agreements with Visa and MasterCard.

However, Apple isn’t just lining up credit card network partners. Another report from industry news site Bank Innovation cited insider sources that claimed Apple is in talks with department store Nordstrom over the possibility of it being an early merchant partner in the new mobile payments system. Bank Innovation also claimed that Apple had negotiated lower card transaction fees from several major financial institutions, including American Express, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Capital One, and Bank of America.

The background: Last week, several component leaks and sources cited by the Financial Times seemed to confirm that Apple’s iPhone 6 will include a Near Field Communications (NFC) chip made by NXP Semiconductors. It is widely believed that this NFC chip will enable the iPhone 6 to be used as a touchless digital wallet. Although a report from The Information earlier this year identified Visa as an Apple mobile payments system partner, this was the first time that American Express and MasterCard were also named.

While specific retailers were never named, unnamed insider sources cited by 9to5Mac earlier this year also claimed that Apple was in talks with several well-known retail store chains that sell premium clothing and other luxury goods. The iPhone 6 component leaks showing an NFC chip, along with the recent rumors about Apple’s partnerships with various credit card companies and retailers, suggest that the California-based company is preparing to introduce a major mobile payments system when it unveils its next generation of products at the media event on September 9.  While the details of the system are still unknown, it may make use of Apple’s vast trove of iTunes accounts and incorporate the Touch ID fingerprint scanner that was introduced on the iPhone 5S last year.

While Apple won’t be the first major tech company to take a stab at the mobile payments market, none of the existing digital wallet systems — such as the Android-based Google Wallet system — has been widely adopted by consumers. According to a recent study conducted by Thrive Analytics, less than one-third of U.S. consumers use digital wallets, even though nearly 80 percent of them are aware of digital wallets as an alternative form of payment. One of the primary concerns about mobile payments that were cited by consumers in Thrive Analytics’ study was security. Unfortunately, Apple’s reputation took a hit in this area when it emerged that some of the recently stolen celebrity photos were obtained from accounts on Apple’s network.

2. Apple’s 5.5-inch “iPhone Air” rear casing leaked

The source: It what has become a weekly ritual in the months running up to Apple’s media event, yet another iPhone component has surfaced on the Internet. Earlier this week, French tech site NoWhereElse.fr provided a video showing what was purported to be the rear casing for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 model. Besides giving fans a close-up look at a part from the rarely leaked larger version of Apple’s upcoming iPhone, NoWhereElse.fr cited unnamed sources that claimed the 5.5-inch model would be called the “iPhone Air.” NoWhereElse.fr also later provided yet another image of a 2,915 mAh battery that is supposedly intended for the 5.5-inch iPhone.

The background: Although there have been many component leaks for the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 model, there have been far fewer leaks for the larger model. Not surprisingly, the 5.5-inch model appears to feature similar design elements as the smaller model, including a cutout space for an embedded Apple logo and a round flash aperture. Based on rough measurements shown in the video, the device appears to be a little over 150 millimeters long. This aligns with previously leaked schematics obtained by French Apple news site IGen.fr last month that indicated a length of about 158 millimeters.

The “iPhone Air” moniker has also been mentioned in several other unsubstantiated reports, including one from Taiwan’s Commercial Times earlier this year. On the other hand, Taiwan’s Apple Daily blog claimed that the larger model will be called the “iPhone 6L.” Apple Daily also provided the first images of the 2,915 mAh battery that resurfaced on NoWhereElse.fr this week.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

3. No iWatch at Apple’s September 9 media event?

The source: According to “upstream supply chain” sources cited by Taiwan’s DigiTimes, Apple’s iWatch is still in the engineering verification testing (EVT) stage of production. As noted by DigiTimes, the EVT stage is a relatively early stage in production in which the design of the product has not even been finalized. Before a product enters mass production, it must also go through the production verification testing (PVT) stage after the EVT stage. For these reasons, DigiTimes’ sources claimed that, not only would the iWatch not be available until 2015, it was unlikely to be unveiled at Apple’s media event on September 9.

The background: Up until last month,it was widely assumed thatthe iWatch would not be unveiled in September, but would instead make an appearance at a separate media event later this year. However, according to information from Re/Code’s usually reliable sources, Apple will unveil its wearable device alongside two new iPhone models on September 9.  However, Re/Code also noted that the iWatch is not likely to go on sale before early 2015. So who to believe?

While the dearth of iWatch component leaks suggests that the device will not be widely available any time soon, it is still possible that Apple will unveil a prototype of the highly anticipated device next week. It should also be noted that while Re/Code has a fairly good track record when it comes to information on Apple, DigiTimes is known for being hit-or-miss with its predictions. There is also at least one analyst who is optimistic about both the debut and release of the iWatch this year. PTT Research analyst Matt Margolis has predicted that the iWatch will be unveiled on September 9 and may be available for sale as early as mid-October.

ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images

ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images

4. Gold iPad Air 2 at Apple’s September 9 media event?

The source: KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released a research note on Thursday that was jam-packed with bold claims about Apple’s upcoming media event. According to the research note obtained by Apple Insider, one of Kuo’s biggest claims is that Apple will unveil the next-generation iPad Air at the media event on September 9. Kuo believes that the so-called “iPad Air 2” will feature the Touch ID fingerprint scanner and gold color option that were first introduced with the iPhone 5S last year, as well as a faster A8 processor and an anti-reflective display coating.

The background: While Kuo has previously made accurate predictions about Apple’s upcoming products, the debut of a new iPad alongside a new iPhone would break Apple’s tradition of unveiling its tablets at a separate media event. However, it should also be noted that DigiTimes cited supply chain sources earlier this week that claimed production of components for the iPad Air 2 had recently ramped up. While it’s not clear if DigiTimes’ report bolsters Kuo’s claim, it does appear that Apple is preparing to mass produce a new flagship tablet for sale later this year.

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RITA QIAN/AFP/Getty Images

5. New iWatch details: NFC chip, storage capacity, and more

The source: Thursday was a bonanza for Apple fans hungry for information about the rumored iOS-based wearable tech device. According to sources cited by The Wall Street Journal, the so-called “iWatch” will include the NFC chip that is also rumored to be in the next-generation iPhone models. This will presumably allow users to make wireless purchases via the wrist-worn device. The Wall Street Journal’s sources also echoed previously reported rumors about the iWatch, such as the inclusion of multiple health-monitoring and fitness-tracking sensors and the use of a curved OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screen. The sources also claimed that the iWatch would be available in two different sizes.

Another report from The New York Times reiterated many of The Wall Street Journal’s claims and added that the iWatch would feature a sapphire-covered display and use a wireless charging method. Finally, in a research note obtained by Apple Insider, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that the iWatch would offer 8GB of internal storage and 512MB of RAM. The well-connected analyst also predicted that the iWatch would be offered in two screen sizes of 1.3 inches and 1.5 inches. According to Kuo, both models will be available in a variety of casing material and color options, which may include gold.

The background: While the rumors about the health-related features of the iWatch have already been widely circulated, much of the other information revealed in these three separate reports is new. While all of the sources cited in these reports affirmed that the iWatch would make an appearance on September 9, they also suggested that the device may not be available for sale until next year. As previously noted, this contradicts PTT Research analyst Matt Margolis’s prediction that the iWatch would go on sale by mid-October, as well as a recent report from DigiTimes that suggested that the iWatch would not be unveiled at the upcoming media event.

Source: www.gtat.com

Source: www.gtat.com

6. New “iPhone 6” details: sapphire, one-handed software, and more

The source: Among his claims about the iPad Air 2 and the iWatch, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also weighed in with several new predictions about Apple’s next-generation iPhone models. Despite Apple’s well-publicized investment in sapphire manufacturer GT Advanced Technologies, Kuo believes that neither one of the upcoming iPhone models will feature sapphire-covered screens, reports Apple Insider. However, he does believe that both models will be offered with up to 128GB of storage capacity. Finally, sources cited by The New York Times suggested that both of the new iPhone models will include a “one-handed mode” that will make it easier for users to continue operating the larger models with just one hand.

The background: Kuo’s claim that the iPhone 6 would feature a 128GB capacity version option for the first time aligns with hardware details revealed in a schematic leaked by Chinese repair company GeekBar last month. However, his claim about the lack of sapphire in Apple’s upcoming iPhone models contradicts predictions made by PTT Research analyst Matt Margolis, who has done extensive research on Apple’s partnership with GT Advanced Technologies. In a research note issued last week, Margolis predicted that the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 model would be offered in both sapphire and Gorilla Glass versions, while the 5.5-inch model would likely only be offered with a sapphire cover.

That’s all the Apple rumors for this week! Hopefully many of these rumors will be put to rest when Apple holds its media event on Tuesday, September 9. However, The Cheat Sheet always provides a round up the latest Apple rumors at the end of each business week.

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