9 Apple Rumors From Last Week: iPhone, iPad, and More
Apple’s next-generation iPhone models are expected to be unveiled in less than three weeks. However, that hasn’t stopped the perpetual rumor mill from churning out more details about the company’s highly anticipated iPhone 6. Based on previous component leaks and supply chain information cited by multiple media sources, it is widely believed that the upcoming iPhone models will be available in two larger screen sizes of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches. Some, if not all, of the next-generation devices are also expected to feature sapphire-covered screens. While several new tidbits of information about the devices’ hardware emerged online last week, many of the latest leaks simply affirmed previously heard rumors about the iPhone 6 models.
Although rumors about Apple’s next-generation iPhone models have been receiving the lion’s share of media coverage, the Cupertino-based company is believed to have several other products in the works, including follow-ups to last year’s iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display. New information about the production of the long-rumored iWatch wearable tech device also surfaced last week. Here’s a roundup of the latest rumors circulating about Apple’s many upcoming products.
1. Apple’s iPhone 6 may feature up to 128GB storage and an NFC chip
The source: Various leaked iPhone 6 schematics obtained by a Chinese repair company called GeekBar and highlighted by GforGames early last week revealed several interesting details about the hardware for Apple’s next-generation iPhone. The first schematic purported to reveal details about the RAM capacity for the so-called “A8” processor. Although it was first believed that this schematic showed that the A8 processor would only feature 1GB of RAM, subsequent clarification revealed that this information most likely referred to a component for the device’s flash memory.
Another leaked schematic provided by GeekBar and obtained by GforGames suggested that the iPhone 6 would feature a 128GB capacity version for the first time. Previously released iPhone models have topped out at 64GB of storage. The schematic also detailed 16GB and 64GB capacity devices, while the 32GB option was strangely absent. Finally, the schematics provided by GeekBar also appeared to confirm that the next-generation iPhone models will feature Near Field Communication (NFC) technology via a PN65V chip supplied by NXP Semiconductors.
The background: While all rumors about unreleased Apple products should always be taken with a grain of salt, GeekBar has previously provided images of various iPhone 6 components that appeared to be genuine. It should also be noted that the information in these schematics appears to align with several previously circulated rumors about Apple’s iPhone 6.
The introduction of a 64GB capacity iPhone 6 was previously reported by Chinese website Feng. Feng’s information was allegedly based on an insider supply chain source. Previous rumors reported by BrightWire have also suggested that the iPhone 6 would include an NFC chip in order to enable a new mobile payments system developed by Apple. Although BrightWire’s sources did not specify a manufacturer, a report from The Wall Street Journal in June of this year mentioned NXP Semiconductors as a potential NFC chip supplier for Apple. It should also be noted that Apple already has nine separate NXP Semiconductors facilities on its 2014 supplier list.
2. Apple’s iPhone 6 may include faster modem
The source: Once again, Chinese repair company GeekBar was the source for yet another component leak that was first spotted by GforGames. According to GeekBar, Apple’s iPhone 6 will include Qualcomm’s MDM9625 baseband processor. As noted by GforGames, this will allow the iPhone 6 to achieve download speeds of up to 150 Mbps, 50 Mbps more than what the current flagship iPhone 5S is capable of.
The background: While the new modem is an improvement over the modem currently used in the iPhone 5S, some of Apple’s more tech-savvy fans may be disappointed to learn that the iPhone 6 will not feature Qualcomm’s latest MDM9x35 modem, as suggested by a rumor reported by VentureBeat earlier this month. As noted by VentureBeat, the MDM9x35 modem allows download speeds of up to 300 Mbps. On the other hand, Category 6 LTE equipment like the MDM9x35 modem is still not supported by many networks around the world, which makes Apple’s use of an older-generation technology the pragmatic choice.
3. Apple’s iPhone 6 display resolution revealed?
The source: Feld & Volk — a Russian luxury company that resells modified iPhones and iPads — recently posted an image to its Instagram page of what it purports to be an iPhone 6 screen under a microscope. According to MacRumors, the company claimed that the images showed that at least one of Apple’s iPhone 6 models would feature a display resolution of 1704 x 960.
The background: While it is widely expected that Apple’s iPhone 6 will feature a higher resolution display, there is still some dispute over what the exact specifications will be. MacRumors noted that the 1704 x 960 resolution claimed by Feld & Volk does not align with the pixel count shown in its close up image of the iPhone 6 screen. Meanwhile, iOS 8 Software Development Kit (SDK) beta files recently discovered by 9to5Mac pointed to a display resolution of 828 x 1472. This resolution would provide the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 with a pixel density of about 359 ppi and the 5.5-inch model with about 307 ppi. While it remains to be seen how high the display resolution on Apple’s next-generation devices will go, it should be noted that the specifications outlined by Feld & Volk and 9to5Mac would both provide both iPhone 6 models with a pixel density higher than the 300 ppi Retina threshold established by Steve Jobs.
4. Redesigned iPhone 6 camera and other details leaked
The source: More iPhone 6 schematics that were leaked from major Apple supplier Foxconn and obtained by French Apple news site IGen.fr appear to confirm earlier rumors about a redesigned camera that will protrude slightly beyond the surface of the rear casing. The schematics also provide detailed measurements of the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 models.
According to the schematics, the 4.7-inch model will measure a little over 138 mm long, nearly 67 mm wide, and 6.9 mm thick. On the other hand, the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 will be a little over 158 mm long, nearly 78 mm wide, and 7.1 mm thick. It should be noted that the thickness measurements do not include the protruding camera. However, as seen in the image above, the camera will protrude less than a millimeter beyond the casing on both models.
The background: The camera design suggested by these schematics aligns with previously seen images obtained by Taiwan’s Apple Club and highlighted by GforGames. Although the camera would only extend less than a millimeter beyond the surface of the casing, it represents a departure from the current iPhone design in which the camera is fully embedded in the device. However, even with the protruding camera design, Apple managed to make both of its next-generation models even slimmer than the current iPhone 5S, which is 7.6 mm thick. It should also be noted that the fifth-generation iPod touch already uses a similar camera design.
5. Display issue causes iPhone 6 production speed bump
The source: A recent report from Reuters highlighted a production setback that Apple allegedly encountered when it was trying to implement a thinner display technology. According to several supply chain sources cited by Reuters, Apple’s attempt to make its devices thinner by reducing the number of backlight films used from two to one backfired when it was discovered that the displays were not bright enough. This reportedly caused a delay in the production of displays for the iPhone 6 as a second backlight film had to be incorporated into a subsequent redesign.
The background: The move to cut down the number of backlight films, or brightness enhancement films (BEFs), used in the iPhone 6 was previously noted by GforGames in June of this year. According to a China Times report cited by GforGames, Apple’s suppliers were struggling to produce a high enough quality film that is required when only one film is used in a display. Now it appears that Apple has abandoned this approach and returned to the standard use of two BEFs for its display panels. Despite the temporary hiccup in Apple’s production line, Reuters noted that it wasn’t clear if this disruption would have any effect on the overall supply of new iPhone models this year.
6. Apple’s iPad Air 2 may feature twice the RAM
The source: A recent report from Taiwan’s TechNews site suggested that Apple will boost the RAM capacity for the iPad Air 2. According to the news site’s unnamed sources, the RAM for the iPad Air 2 will be bumped to 2GB from the 1GB that is available in the current model. On the other hand, the sources predicted that the next-generation iPad mini with Retina display would keep its RAM capacity at the current 1GB level.
Background: Last year, Apple introduced the “Air” name for its 9.7-inch flagship iPad in order to emphasize the device’s thinner and lighter design, and upgraded the 7.9-inch iPad mini with a Retina display. While the reason behind the increase in RAM is unknown, TechNews.tw suggested that it may be related to a new “multitasking, multi-page” feature that is rumored to be made available in the upcoming public release of iOS 8. TechNews.tw speculated that the multitasking feature required the addition of more RAM since the device would have to display to separately running apps at the same time.
In May of this year, 9to5Mac first reported rumors that Apple was working on a multi-page feature for the next-generation iPad and code referencing the feature was later discovered in the iOS 8 software development kit (SDK). The feature is essentially the same as the split-screen features currently available on Microsoft’s Surface tablet and some Android-based tablets. A concept video of the feature created by designer Sam Beckett can be seen above.
7. Images of various purported iPad Air 2 internal components leaked
The source: When it rains, it pours. One day after a rare rumor about the iPad Air 2 emerged from Asian news sources, multiple images of various iPad Air 2 components were posted on the French Apple news site iPhonote. According to iPhonote, the images were obtained “from an Apple supplier in Shenzhen by a person wishing remained anonymous.” While a specific supplier wasn’t named, the iPhone maker uses dozens of different suppliers with facilities located in the southern Chinese city according to Apple’s 2014 Supplier List, including major supplier Foxconn. The purported iPad Air 2 components shown in the images include the device’s GPS antenna, microphone cable, and Wi-Fi module. The image above depicts the purported Wi-Fi module for the iPad Air 2.
The background: As previously noted, component leaks for the iPad Air 2 have been far and few between, so there are essentially no other components with which to compare these internal parts. However, as noted by iPhonote, the components are similar, though not identical, to the respective parts found in the current iPad Air. Besides the superficial resemblance that the components have to the original iPad Air’s parts, at least one of the components also has an Apple logo visible. For these reasons, it is quite likely that the parts are genuine. However, the parts don’t appear to confirm any of the most widely circulated rumors about the iPad Air 2, such as the introduction of the Touch ID fingerprint scanner or the use of the next-generation A8 processor.
8. No Apple iWatch in 2014?
The source: According to a recent research note from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the launch of Apple’s long-rumored iWatch may be delayed until 2015, reports 9to5Mac. In a note to investors obtained by 9to5Mac, Kuo claimed that the iWatch’s dissimilarity with Apple’s currently existing products has presented the company with “a much higher level of difficulty for the company as regards component and system design, manufacturing and integration between hardware and software.”
The background: Kuo has a fairly good track record when it comes to Apple product details. On the other hand, his predictions about when a product will hit the market have not always been as accurate. Even if the reports of production issues are true, it is also possible that Apple would still launch the iWatch in 2014, albeit with a limited supply.
9. Apple’s Supposed Sapphire Shortage Solved?
The source: According to new information uncovered by PTT Research analyst Matt Margolis, Apple partner GT Advanced Technologies has started using sapphire crackle with raw alumina to grow sapphire boules. As he noted in a research report provided by Seeking Alpha, this production method “will lead to less defects and higher useable sapphire yields,” as well as lower overall production costs.
The background: Sapphire is an extremely hard, but expensive, display material that is rumored to be used in Apple’s next-generation devices. Although Apple’s interest in sapphire is widely known, analysts have been split over how and when Apple would begin using this material. Many of the analysts who doubt the widespread implementation of this material in Apple’s upcoming devices have cited various reports of shortages. However, according to production information highlighted in Margolis’s research note, GT Advanced Technologies’ facility in Mesa, Arizona is gearing up to produce large numbers of sapphire covers for both the iPhone 6 and the iWatch.
That’s it for last week! Be sure to check out Wall St. Cheat Sheet’s round up the latest Apple rumors at the end of each business week.
More from Tech Cheat Sheet:
- Rumor: Apple’s 5.5-Inch iPhone ‘6L’ Will Include Major Battery Boost
- Wearables Market Appears Primed for Apple’s iWatch
- Will Chinese Carriers’ Smartphone Subsidy Cuts Hurt Apple and Samsung?
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