New images that purport to show the digitizer for Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) upcoming iPhone 6 model have emerged on China’s WeiPhone forum, reports BGR. The images have since been removed by WeiPhone, but not before being spotted and downloaded by Steve Hemmerstoffer at the French website Nowhereelse.fr.
As noted by BGR, the images appear to show the digitizers from an iPhone 4S and iPhone 5S alongside what is supposedly an iPhone 6 digitizer. Although the purported iPhone 6 digitizer component appears to have the same overall size as the iPhone 5S component, it has no visible side bezels. The top and bottom bezels on the iPhone 6 digitizer also appear to be narrower than the bezels on the iPhone 5S digitizer. In other words, Apple may be planning to boost the screen size of the iPhone 6 by eliminating and shrinking the device’s bezels. This would align with a report from the Korea Herald last month that predicted that the iPhone 6 would have a bezel-free display.
Apple is known for reusing the same components for different products in order to save on costs. Forbes’ tech commentator Ewan Spence recently pointed out that Apple followed this philosophy when it unveiled the original iPad mini. The iPad mini was made with displays that had the same pixel density as the iPhone, which means that Apple simply cut previously used display panels to a different size.
On the other hand, as noted by Nowhereelse.fr, the similar overall size of the iPhone 6 digitizer to the iPhone 5S digitizer may also suggest that the leaker who posted these images merely altered an iPhone 5S digitizer by removing some of the bezel material. Another potential authenticity issue with the iPhone 6 digitizer is the slightly offset placement of the home button opening. However, it should be noted that defects such as that are not uncommon for components that are manufactured for test prototypes.
Multiple media outlets have reported rumors that the next-generation iPhone will be available in two larger screen sizes. Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that one of the upcoming iPhone models will feature a screen size larger than 4.5 inches and that the other will have a phablet-sized screen larger than 5 inches. Assuming the rumors are accurate, it would appear that the iPhone 6 digitizer seen in these leaked images is intended for the smaller of the upcoming iPhone models.
Besides the long-rumored screen-size upgrades, there has also been speculation that Apple will begin using sapphire displays for the next-generation iPhones. Import/export documents obtained by 9to5Mac and analyst Matt Margolis indicated that Apple will be making “display-grade components” at a sapphire manufacturing facility run by GT Advanced Technologies that the Cupertino-based company acquired last year. Although Apple currently uses Corning’s (NYSE:GLW) durable Gorilla Glass for its mobile device screens, sapphire is harder and more scratch-resistant.
Follow Nathanael on Twitter (@ArnoldEtan_WSCS)