iOSphere rumors make it Christmas every day: They are the gift that keeps on giving, no matter what time of year.
Also: how the iOSphere parses a press release and uncovers the hidden fact that T-Mobile USA will offer iPhone 6 in 2013; NFC longings; and the magic of no-contact-needed wireless charging.
You read it here second.
iPhone 6 "leaked" images show something like iPhone 5 with missing screws
Two "leaked" photos, "which were found on the Web" and purportedly show the housing of the Next iPhone, were posted by ETrade Supply, a Hong Kong-based repair parts supplier.
There's already widespread acceptance that the seventh-generation Next iPhone will not be "iPhone 6" but "iPhone 5S." Because of Apple's "traditional" naming convention: 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S. That would be the four-year tradition.
"Found on the Web" is without doubt the "Best Worst Source for an iOSphere Rumor in December." Ours not to reason why. Ours but to post and rumorize. The pictures were apparently first posted in a site called iPhone5parts.net, described as an online forum for Apple fans.
The photos reveal a phone that looks eerily like -- or as ETrade says "very similar to" - the iPhone 5.
"From the background, it seems that the pictures were taken at the assembly line of an operation stage," ETrade says, with the confidence common to iOSphere rumors. The confidence seems misplaced: The background is a featureless green surface. You can't even tell if it's a wall or a floor or a desk. And what the heck does "operation stage" actually mean?
However. "However, the reason why we say it is a suspected iPhone 5s rear housing is that the specific information below the logo, which are replaced by 'X'. Usually, the parts with 'X' stand for test prototype."
X marks the prototype. What could be simpler?
ETrade nevertheless is able to winkle out changes. "First, the 'iPhone 5s' has two less screw holes on the left side which are used to fasten the LCD." Doubtless another example of Apple's genius in reducing the bill of materials cost for its product. "Second, the position of 3 screw holes used to fasten the logic board has been removed (not sure whether caused by the change of logic board)." It's not clear if ETrade thinks the screws are evidence of "a" change in the logic board or that the entire logic board has been changed.
Once it had given the customary "take all this with Andre-the-Giant-sized pinches of salt," Macworld UK's David Price threw salt to the wind and got down to brass tacks.
These changes "may suggest cosmetic or superficial changes from iPhone 5 to iPhone 6 (sorry, 'iPhone 5S'), or they may suggest fundamental modifications to the internal componentry and screen."
One or the other. For sure.
iPhone 6 coming to T-Mobile USA
International Business Times' Louis Bedigan reports this rumor based on the announcement by Deutsche Telekom that its subsidiary, T-Mobile USA, and Apple signed a deal "to bring products to market together in 2013."
The announcement didn't mention "iPhone 6." In fact, it didn't mention any specific product; just, you know, "products." But if you know how to interpret what's not being said by reading between the lines, you can see what others can't.
"No other details were announced, but tech bloggers are already speculating on what this could mean for Apple and its product lineup in 2013," Bedigan wrote, gracefully passing over his own modest contribution to tech speculation. "CNET warns that the deal may not relate to the iPhone at all and could simply involve the iPad."
Be warned, T-Mobile subscribers: You simply might get only the iPad.
"Right now the rumor mill insists that Apple will prematurely upgrade the iPhone 5 ... with a new model this winter ," Bedigan writes.
"Prematurely upgrade" sounds rather like "prematurely gray" -- something you don't want to happen until later; much later, in fact. Bedigan probably means that the Next iPhone will be "occurring, growing, or existing before the customary, correct, or assigned time."
Because history, all five years of it with six models, clearly shows what is customary for the iPhone: They're announced in June or July. Except for the first iPhone, which was announced in January. And the last two, which were announced in September or October. So whenever they announce the next one, it's guaranteed to be premature.
"If Apple wanted to bring the iPhone to T-Mobile in the near future, an upgrade would be necessary," Bedigan declares. "While it could simply convert the existing model (as it did with the iPhone 4 when it came to Verizon), Apple will get more attention -- and likely sell more units -- if it provides T-Mobile with an enhanced model."
So even though Apple just "simply converted" iPhone 4 to run on Verizon's network, and sold millions and millions of them, it's somehow necessary for Apple to "upgrade" or "enhance" the iPhone to sell it on T-Mobile's network.
One suspects that most T-Mobile customers who are interested in the iPhone would be happy to have even an "un-enhanced" iPhone 5, especially if it supports HSPA+42.
"Of course, Apple cannot simply enhance the iPhone for one carrier; it must provide the new version to every carrier," Bedigan writes. "This might be the real source of the iPhone 5S rumors."
The real source of the iPhone 5S rumors is everyone with access to a website, a keyboard, and a Deutsche Telekom press release that fails to mention the word "iPhone."
iPhone 6 will have near-field communication (NFC)
You can't trust Apple. Let's get that out there right up front.
"Apple is known to backtrack on its plans, or even to distort reality simply to shift attention away from its actual plans," writes Filip Truta at Softpedia.com. "The iPad mini is a good example of that."
And how. Remember the late Steve Jobs saying 9.7 inches was the perfect size for a tablet screen? And now they have one with a 7.9-inch screen?
Ditto for near-field communication, a short-range wireless technology touted endlessly for years as enabling the Magic of Contactless Purchases and the Digital Wallet: Just wave your NFC smartphone and buy, buy, buy!
So when Apple marketing supremo Phil Schiller tells the world in September 2012 that "It's not clear that NFC is the solution to any current problem. Passbook does the kinds of things customers need today," you know he's either backtracking or distorting reality or even telling the truth. One of them, for sure.
But Truta says wireless chipmaker Qualcomm will change all that. That's because Qualcomm "just announced a new Near Field Communication (NFC) chip that makes perfect sense for the next-generation iPhone 6, or even the rumored iPhone 5S."
And if Schiller and his boss Tim Cook don't know that, they can just ask Truta. Or read the Qualcomm press release.
"Qualcomm confirmed that its QCA1990 SoC (system on a chip) is the industry's smallest, ultra-low power NFC package 'with an overall footprint that is 50 percent smaller than current NFC chips available in the market,' said the press release," notes Truta, making it sound as if he had personally hounded a hapless Qualcomm exec, ambushed him, backed him into a corner, hammered him with questions until, broken and sobbing, this wretch confessed that "Yes, YES!!! It has an overall footprint that is 50%smaller than current NFC chips!" instead of just quoting from the company's press release.
"Apple is widely believed to release an incremental iPhone 5S this summer, staying in line with tradition (iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4S)," Bedigan writes. Tradition: It's how we keep our balance.
The incremental, premature, virtually identical iPhone 5S. With NFC. And a few missing screws.
iPhone 6 will have the best, coolest wireless charging in the Universe
A recently published patent application shows Apple is looking at wireless charging for its mobile devices. And you know what that means: iPhone 6 will have wireless charging.
But it's not just any wireless charging, like Nokia uses for some of its Lumia smartphones. In the Nokia system, you have to physically put your phone on top of the charging pad, so they're actually touching.
With Apple's system, they won't have to touch. Your iPhone 6 can charge even if it's three (3!) feet away.
The awesomeness lies in using "near field magnetic resonance (NFMR)." Demeritt doesn't spend much time explaining what this actually is. Basically, NFMR creates a low-density magnetic field between two coils, one a power source and the other a power capture device. They oscillate ("resonate") at the same frequency, transferring the energy. One example of resonance is the energy transferred by a singer's voice to a glass: the glass picks up the energy, oscillates at the same frequency and eventually shatters.
A key development in this area is the work by MIT's Dr. Marin Soljacic, who was able to separate the two coils over much longer distances than anyone had thought possible. Soljacic's breakthrough, dubbed "highly resonant magnetic coupling," is being commercialized by Massachusetts-based WiTricity. More details of this approach, and examples of how it can be widely applied, are in our January 2010 interview with company CEO Eric Giler. The company is releasing a technology demonstration kit designed for engineers.
"Being able to charge devices from a meter away is a notable advancement and may help proliferate the technology," Demeritt writes. "At the very least it means devices won't have to crowd around and touch a physical object to charge."
That crowding thing. What a drag. Very notable to be able to set your iPhone 6 down three feet from the charger. Think how our Digital Life will change.
And the patent application also is a morale booster. "The patent should give hope to those who were disappointed by the iPhone 5," Demeritt writes. "Wireless charging was on the wish list of many Apple fans during the media hype lead-up of the latest iPhone." The Disappointed: their name is legion.
Demeritt says "the patent is meant to tackle the 'unwieldy' configuration of the many wired chargers and power sources needed for multiple wireless devices. If Apple can cut through that clutter it would make charging iPhones, iPads and iPods together a lot simpler."
Not just simpler, a lot simpler. A lot simpler than this, which is taken from Apple's support document on charging the iPhone:
"To charge the battery, choose one of the options below:
"For the quickest charge, connect the device to a power outlet using the USB cable that came with the device and an Apple USB power adapter.
"Connect the device directly to a USB port on your computer (not an external keyboard) using the USB cable that came with the device ...
"Connect the device to an externally-powered USB hub."
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww Email: email@example.com
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