Also this week: lots of allegedly ‘new details’ of the Next iPhone, details that sound, to our cynical ears, more like plausible guesses. New photos of yet another rear aluminium casing, with a solution to the threat of Accidental Volume Changes, and an embedded logo crafted perhaps of Liquidmetal.
And the Chinese workers killed in a factory explosion won’t delay the iPhone 6 after all.
You read it here second.
iPhone 6 will be announced 9 September
As previously posted, Apple is said to be holding a big media event on Tuesday, 9 September, according to the tech news website re/code. The entire substance of the re/code post, by veteran reporter John Paczkowski who has plenty of good sources but doesn’t cite any of them, amounts to one sentence: “Apple has scheduled a big media event for Tuesday, Sept. 9 – a date to which Apple numerologists will strain to attribute significance.” Paczkowski writes that “the focal point of this one is to be Apple’s next-generation iPhones.”
As of this posting, there’s been no Apple confirmation, or denial.
iPhone 6 will have a bunch of new stuff, confirmed (exclusive)
Mark Sullivan at VentureBeat is just thrilled to be able to confirm all kinds of “new details” about the new iPhones this spring (“yes, that’s multiple phones”) because he’s been talking to “a VentureBeat source with knowledge of the plans.”
That’s not much for the reader to go on. But it’s plenty for Sullivan: his post essentially lists a set of long- and heavily-rumoured iPhone 6 features, and adds one specific detail that reads more like a plausible guess than a leaked revelation.
He assures his readers that, yes, Apple will have a 4.7in model available in mid-September, and a 5.5in model “several weeks or even a month later.” Not much there in new details.
But the new phones will lack sapphire screens. “Our source says the screens are made of an extremely hard material that’s slightly harder than Gorilla Glass but not as hard as sapphire.” Probably the still mysterious material known as Gorillaphire.
Sullivan, or his source, also “confirms” the new phones will both use the new A8 chip. That, too, is not a new detail, since almost every new iPhone has had a new chip. But the source did say that the new chip will run at 2.0 GHz. “By comparison, the A7 chips in the iPhone 5 run at only 1.3GHz per core,” according to Sullivan. (Either he, or his source, is a tad confused on some of the details. The iPhone 5 featured the A6 chip, the first with an Apple-designed ARMv7-based dual-core processor (“Swift”), instead of using cores licensed from ARM Ltd. The A7, the first 64-bit mobile chip, appeared in 2013 with the iPhone 5s; the iPhone 5c still uses the 32-bit A6.)
The faster clock speed “will create noticeably faster response time and graphics rendering in the new phones, the source says.” Really insightful, that, though it overlooks more important issues: optimising performance while minimising power demand. Assuming that the A8 actually will have a higher clock speed, Apple is most likely achieving that by first reducing its power consumption and heat output.
Eric Slivka, MacRumors, posting about another website’s post with photos purporting to be of the rear aluminium casing for a 4.7in iPhone 6, with an “embedded Apple logo” made of a “very extraordinary” metal that the other website speculates could be the wonderful and mysterious Liquidmetal alloy.
Another “new detail,” according to Sullivan, is that the iPhone 6 will have faster Wi-Fi, with an 802.11ac chip from Broadcom. But that’s been speculated for some time. The real question is whether, assuming the new iPhones indeed are larger, they will have dual antennas (or some kind of antenna sharing technology) to support for two Wi-Fi spatial streams. Broadcom’s 2×2 11ac chip for smartphones, the BCM4354m was announced in February 2014. It is currently used in the Samsung Galaxy S5 phone and several other mobile devices not so far publicly disclosed.
In benchmark tests by AnandTech, the S5 linking to an 11ac router achieved data transfer rates of 436Mbps; the iPhone 5s, using 802.11n, maxed out at about 101Mbps. Perhaps the real benefit to higher Wi-Fi throughput is that the phone’s network interface can go “back to sleep” much faster, reducing demand on the battery.
Sullivan’s post claims that “Apple is said to have been working on its own Wi-Fi chip, using a team of engineers that it hired away from Texas Instruments, but our source believes Apple hasn’t been able to get the kind of range and performance from its own chips that it needs.” We are skeptical: taking control of the Wi-Fi network interface doesn’t seem to offer any of the big benefits that Apple reaped in taking control of its processor design.
Finally, Sullivan claims that iPhone 6 will use Qualcomm’s MDM9x35, cellular modem, which adds support for Category 6 LTE, with a higher data rate of 300Mbps; and that Apple plans to incorporate a near field communication (NFC) chip, from NXP, to support mobile payment applications. The former is rather more plausible than the latter, though a large-format iPhone 6 would be able to accommodate both the NFC chip and the fairly substantial coil of copper wire needed for its antenna. But NFC, at least in Australia, is far from being a widely accepted means for mobile payments; and Apple’s existing iBeacon specification, using Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy in conjunction with Wi-Fi and cellular, seems a very viable alternative.
iPhone 6 aluminium casing shows aluminium. And curves. And, like, holes for buttons
Feld & Volk is a company that modifies iPhones and iPads into “unique device” for which you can pay an even higher price. This week, the vendor posted on its Instagram account, photos that purport to be of final rear aluminium shell for a 4.7in iPhone 6.
MacRumors’ Erick Slivka was among those who quickly trumpeted the revelations of “a few features not highlighted in previous leaks,” complete with extreme closeups.
“Among these is a good look at the volume button cutouts, which have now been recessed slightly in a change that will allow for a lower profile along the edges and decreased likelihood of accidental volume changes,” he writes.
Boy Howdy. We don’t mind admitting what a relief it is knowing that Sir Jonathan Ive, Apple’s Designer Extraordinaire, is protecting us from Accidental Volume Changes.
Perhaps even more important is the “embedded Apple logo“, which Slivka points out is “something Apple has not used on the iPhone since the original iPhone back in 2007.” And how long those intervening seven years do seem. Slivka says that Feld & Volk indicate that “the embedded logo is very similar to that seen on the original iPhone, but says it is made of ‘very extraordinary’ scratch-resistant metal that it speculates could be a Liquidmetal alloy….” The year wait for Liquidmetal has been almost as long. But Slivak, disappointingly but forthrightly, admits “there is no specific evidence supporting that speculation.”
That’s the iOSphere motto.
iPhone 6 will not be delayed by explosion at Chinese wheel hub factory
Anguished speculation about iPhone 6 being delayed swept through part of the iOSphere this week, on news that a wheel hub factory in the city of Kunshan had exploded, killing some 75 workers and injuring nearly 200 more, most of them badly burned. But the anguish was about whether the iPhone 6 would be delayed. We earlier went into details on the alarmist headlines and speculations.
Chinese officials temporarily shut down other factories pending safety inspections, one of them being a plant owned by Foxconn, the main assembler of iPhones. Therefore since a single Foxconn factory had stopped, then release of the Next iPhone was threatened!
But a Mainstream Media report, by Bloomberg, declared categorically that “Foxconn doesn’t assemble Apple products in Kunshan and most of its manufacturing takes place elsewhere.”