Bloomberg reports that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) suppliers in China will begin mass production of two models of the much-rumored iPhone 6 in July. One will have a 4.7-inch display, larger than the 4-inch display of the current model, and will reportedly be ready to ship “around September.” A 5.5-inch model could be available at the same time, although Bloomberg says that that production of the 5.5-inch model is “more complicated” than production of the smaller version, and production efficiency needs to be addressed before manufacturing volume can increase. It’s possible that the difficulties could cause supply of the larger model to be low when the phone debuts.
In addition to featuring larger screens — the biggest ever for the iPhone – the new iPhone 6 models are expected to be “rounder and thinner” than current models. Apple is also reportedly developing curved glass and sensors that can detect varying levels of pressure. It’s unclear whether those features are intended for the iPhone 6. However, 9to5Mac states that it expects both models of the iPhone 6 to feature the curved glass, called “2.5 dimension glass,” which Bloomberg explains “lets manufacturers taper the edges of the screen where the bezel meets the frame of a smartphone.”
The Bloomberg article follows rumors, reported by AppleInsider, that Apple manufacturer Foxconn plans to hire 100,000 workers for iPhone 6 production, boosting the size of the workforce 10 percent over the number it employed to produce the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s. AppleInsider said that Foxconn, which is thought to be responsible for the bulk of iPhone 6 orders, is rumored to be planning significant expansions for two production lines.
Another manufacturer, Pegatron, is rumored to be handling 30 percent of orders, though it’s unclear if that number represents 30 percent of orders for one of the phones or for both iPhone 6 models. The production of the iPhone 6 is expected to create a huge boom in job creation for mainland China.
Rumors about the iPhone 6 have circulated for months, as Apple has launched a new phone every year since 2007. As summarized by AppleInsider, the iPhone 6 is so far rumored to feature a thinner design and a larger display, a faster Apple A8 processor, a relocated power/lock button (expected to move to the upper right side), an improved camera, and the iOS 8 operating system. AppleInsider expects pricing and capacity to remain the same as with previous models, starting at $199 for a 16GB model on a contract, but points to rumors that Apple could charge a $100 premium for the 5.5-inch model.
Phones larger than the current iPhone are popular, many featuring screen larger than 5 inches. With previous iPhones, Apple has ignored the industry trend, which has seen Apple competitors like Samsung (SSNLF.PK) and HTC (HTCXF.PK) releasing phones measuring up to 5.7 inches, dwarfing the current 4-inch iPhone models.
Apple CEO Tim Cook faces pressure to increase sales growth, and the iPhone 6 is a big part, or perhaps the main part, of his plan to accomplish that. The iPhone generates more than half of Apple’s revenue. Bloomberg reports that last year, the phone produced $91 billion in revenue alone. The new capabilities of the iOS 8 operating system are expected to be a big draw, but given the stakes, the pressure is on to produce a phone that will entice both current iPhone owners and consumers who are using phones by other manufacturers.