iPhone 5 rumour roll-up for the week ending November 11

The latest rumblings, myths, and possible fact regarding the Holy Grail of smartphones
  • John Cox (Network World)
  • 12 November, 2011 07:37

The iPhone 5 becomes the smartphone equivalent of the Holy Grail, a repository of the iOSsphere's technological hopes and dreams and, best of all, melodrama. This week: shatterproof OLED display, the curse of the iPhone 4S, cursing Samsung and the January surprise.

Also: Discover how to create your own iPhone 5 rumor in three easy steps.

You read it here second.

"Take one rumor ... six websites ... stir in one unnamed and unconfirmed 'source close to Apple' ... make sure there are no facts to contaminate the mix ... add in a dash of 'I want that!' and you've got the latest, hottest rumor." -- Stupid Apple Rumors

iPhone 5 will have a shatterproof, and big, OLED display

Well, technically it will have a "far more shatter-resistant than the current 'gorilla glass' and LCD design" in the current iPhone 4 and 4S models, according to Mac OS Rumors, which based its posting on "sources familiar with Apple's 2012 Hardware Roadmap."

A document, one suspects, known but to God.

Or the new screen may be "nearly shatterproof." According to the sources, Apple will replace the current design with "a new type of capacitative [sic] touchscreen which incorporates a much tougher, nearly shatterproof outer surface material with an organic LED (OLED) display that is significantly larger than today's 'retina' TFT LCD." The iPhone 5 screen will "still be in the 'retina' [display] range (approximately 300DPI) of pixel density but would increase its size to approximately 4 inches."

The sources claim there are prototypes using various materials for the frame -- aluminum, Titanium, as well as a "thermoplastic carbon fiber material." Apparently they haven't heard about the Liquidmetal rumor. [See "Apple developing amorphous metal alloys for future products"]

So how tough is this new screen? Mac OS Rumors reports that "in Cupertino's testing thus far, [it] has reportedly had a 0% crack rate when dropped from as high as 12 feet onto a concrete or tile surface. When dropped higher, other damage becomes possible but so far in the testing that has been described to Rumors, it seems to take truly unrealistic amounts of force to cause significant damage (beyond mild scratching) to the new display panel itself."

Dropping anything except a hammer from 12 feet onto a concrete floor makes "other damage" possible. [See "When devices just can't break," a 2006 story about how engineers design rugged mobile devices]

There seem to be two approaches to shatter resistance: Make the screen, and presumably the other layered components, stronger; or make it flexible. At least as far back as 2009, Gizmag had a story on work by corporate and academic researchers who created an active matrix display on a flexible, glass-free substrate, so it could actually bend.

iPhone 5 will be delayed because iPhone 4S is so successful

"[T]hose hoping the 4S would implode so the iPhone 5 they want will arrive sooner are back to square one as well, with its release date still not likely to happen before the middle of next year," writes Beatweek's Bill Palmer.

As is his wont, Palmer goes into a long rant about Them -- the "rabid Apple haters" who "get out of bed in the morning for the sake of attempting to sabotage Apple products" by means of "cleverly sadistic" "scare tactics" and endlessly creating the "faux-controversy" du jour.

But eventually he gets around to what could be called his point: "the continued success of the iPhone 4S ..., doesn't mean Apple isn't in a hurry to get the iPhone 5 to market ..." Meaning that Apple is in a hurry to get the iPhone 5 to market.

And that's because Apple has been trying for months to get the darn thing out the door. Palmer repeats, yet again, his conviction that Apple was "apparently attempting to release the iPhone 5 in summer 2011, with the iPhone 4S having been intended as little more than a souped-up replacement for the disjointed carrier-segregated iPhone 4 lineup ..." But "Apple eventually gave up and pushed the iPhone 4S out as the new flagship product instead. That means Apple sees the iPhone 5 as overdue, and it could give it a release date at any time in 2012. Our money is still on the summer, unless iPhone 4S sales unexpectedly plummet early in 2012."

The moral: Apple's true fans will pray for the iPhone 4S to fail ASAP, so the Next Great iPhone and not just a souped-up replacement can take its rightful place on the world stage.

The Southern Daily Press channels Palmer: "If blame is to be placed for the neverending delay of the iPhone 5, place it on the people who stood in line for long periods of time to buy the iPhone 4S."

Inconsiderate, short-sighted, selfish 4S buyers: Shame on you.

Blame Samsung for the iPhone 5 delay

News sites are picking up a story, originally posted at The Hankyoreh, a South Korean newspaper, that claims that a Taiwanese manufacturer had trouble meeting the "required stability standard" for a "key part" for iPhone 5, forcing Apple to delay its introduction. And instead to go with just the souped-up replacement for the existing iPhone 4.

So, why blame Samsung? Because, according to the Korean newspaper, the key part in question had been built by Samsung, and Apple shifted it to the Taiwanese company because of all the legal hassles it was having with Samsung.

The Korean story quotes an unnamed Samsung Electronics official who is "not denying the rumors": "As far as we understand, Apple newly assigned production of two key components for its iPhone 5 and iPad 3 to a Taiwanese company, but these showed problems such as overheating during final tests." OK, wait: two. TWO key components.

Or ... maybe just one. Michael Nace, at iPhone 5 News Blog, is thrilled with this "news." "If this is the case, then the iPhone 5 might be just one piece away from completion," he writes.

Nace is positive that the "key part" is Apple's quad-core A6 processor. And why? Because he reads the "sub-text."

"While the article [at The Hankyoreh] never stipulates that this 'component' was the A6 processor, the sub-text of the article suggests that this issue -- which also involves Samsung -- must be referencing the rumors that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (TSMC) was to take over production of Apple's future A6 chip, which we originally reported back on August 14th. But on October 17th, an update to this story suggested that Samsung was back on the job for the A6 processor job."

This parts ping-pong game has been going on for a while, according to the original Korean story. "Since early this year, Apple has followed a strategy of assigning production of components that had been made by Samsung Electronics to Taiwanese firms instead ..." But it doesn't cite any evidence for that assertion.

Likewise, International Business Times, which picked up this story, avoids any evidence when it speculates that "after the Taiwanese supplier failed to replicate Samsung's success, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung COO Lee Jae-yong apparently met last month to mend ties."

There was a meeting, following the October memorial service for Steve Jobs, Apple's co-founder and longtime CEO. But after arriving back in Korea, Jae-yong told reporters at an airport press conference that the talk was about "long-term parts cooperation arrangements" between the two companies, according to the Korea Herald.

The Samsung executive said the two companies' current contracts for parts extend through 2012. "For the 2013-2014 period, we discussed how best to supply even better parts," he said.

iPhone 5 will be ready in January

The same IBTimes story referenced above insists, as do many others, that "reports confirming" (which sounds much more credible than "rumors confirming" or "Bill Palmer confirming") the iPhone 5 was "already in the works" for 2011 do indeed "indicate that the iPhone 4S is just an interim model."

"Being an update to the iPhone 4 rather than a successor implies that the true fifth generation iPhone, i.e. the iPhone 5, should be ready in a couple of months rather than in a year," IBTimes confidently predicts.

When it's put like that, it seems so obvious.

iPhone 5 will have the world's smallest SIM card

Desire Athow has rumoring down to a three-step science. You take any newly announced technology advance, write up a summary and then add a headline that includes "iPhone 5."

In a post at ITProPortal, Athow notes this week's announcement from "German tech powerhouse Giesecke & Devrient (G&D)" about the "world's smallest SIM card called the ... Nano-SIM." It's one-third the size of the current microSIM card and 15% thinner. Smaller components mean more space in the phone for other stuff and possibly a thinner phone.

G&D didn't mention Apple, or the iPhone, let alone the iPhone 5. But here's Athow's headline: "Will Apple iPhone 5 Come With Nano SIM?"

Apparently, no. Athow concludes his story: "Chances are though that future smartphones will not have any removable SIM cards at all ..."

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.



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