iPhone 6 rumour rollup for the week ending June 21

Leaking components, Labor Day frenzy, fingerprinting bezel, liquid cooling
  • John Cox (Network World)
  • 21 June, 2013 20:00

Tantalizing images of iPhone 6, or 5S, components sent the iOSphere into transports of joy, even though no one could explain what the components revealed about the Next iPhone.

Also this week: Labor Day will be The Day of the Next iPhone's release, transforming the summer's traditional last vacation day from traveling frenzy to shopping frenzy; patents show the long-desired fingerprint scanner will be formed into the iPhone's bezel not incorporated with the home button; and "interest" in liquid cooling is translated into production schedules.

You read it here second.


"Even if Apple takes three full months to get iOS 7 ready for prime time, that still means the iPhone 6 release date can come as early as the end of August or Labor Day. All that Apple has to do is put the iPhone 6 into factory production sooner, to match the ready date for iOS 7."

-- Phil Moore, Stabley Times, describing how Apple's entire supply chain is just sitting around waiting for Apple CEO Tim Cook to call from One Infinite Loop, on his iPhone 5, and order production lines to start cranking


iPhone 5S logic board and display assembly materialize

There is nothing quite like Next iPhone components to set off the iOSphere. Especially, if no one can make anything of them. Because then you can make up anything about them.

First to appear early Monday morning on June 17 was the Next iPhone's logic board. MacRumors early picked up the trail through Japanese tech sites, and posted "three photos of what may be the bare logic board from the iPhone 5S."

"Unsurprisingly, the shape of the board is nearly identical to that of the iPhone 5 logic board, although it appears to have a slightly different curve along the bottom edge where the logic board would meet the speaker enclosure," writes Eric Slivka.

When all you can say about a new component is that it has "a slightly different curve along the bottom edge," your breaking news starts to look distinctly like broken down news.

But the purported logic board apparently lured out other photos. By early afternoon that same day, Slivka posted another revelation: "iPhone 5S Display Assembly Surfaces, Appears to Fit Leaked Logic Board."

"Several repair firms, including iHeart Repair, have shared with MacRumors a new set of images from a supplier showing the display assembly of the iPhone 5S," Slivka announced. He concludes, apparently based on nothing more than the fact he can't notice any differences, that these new low-resolution images reveal no "significant changes" to Apple's display technology. Here is the display assembly montage in all its low-res glory.

But "there is one item of interest supporting the claim that the logic board photos from earlier today are genuine," Slivka concludes.

That one item of interest is that, if you compare the display assemblies of the alleged iPhone 5S and iPhone 5, you can see that the pair of connectors on the flex cables at the top are different. And that those 5S connectors seem to match what may be corresponding connectors on the top of the logic board.

And this means ... well, Slivka never says what it means. It apparently just means that 1) Apple changed some things in the iPhone 5S and b) the purported display assembly supports the claim that the purported logic board is the Real Deal.

Another tech site, FanaticFone, later posted larger images at much higher resolution, purporting to be the iPhone 5S digitizer and LCD screen assembly. Here's their comparison of the assemblies from iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S.

What to make of these "leaked" images?

AppleInsider was cautious. "While not concrete evidence that the two parts are indeed made to be interoperable, the pairing does make the rumored device leaks somewhat plausible," according to the site's anonymous post. "It should be noted, however, that the components may not necessarily be bound for the next-gen iPhone, and could be prototype versions built for testing purposes."

Exactly so. Assuming the components are genuine, there's nothing to indicate at what point they appeared in Apple's development work with its supply chain partners.

And in most of the posts reviewed by The Rollup, none of the authors made any attempt to analyze, or find someone who could analyze, the images themselves. Having a "slightly curved edge" at one end doesn't tell us very much about the Next iPhone.

Because there are so few apparent differences, most posts conclude there are minimal changes ahead for iPhone 5S. "We know this might disappoint many Apple fans, but we are sad to say that you'd better not expect too much improvement in the iPhone 5S screen compared to the iPhone 5," according to FanaticFone. "The flex cable of the iPhone 5S is much longer than the iPhone 5, which indicates that the inner components of the iPhone 5S do indeed have some differences compared to the earlier model."

There you have it. The Next iPhone will be, somehow, somewhat different from the current iPhone.

iPhone 6 will be released on Labor Day 2013

That would be Monday, Sept. 2, for the calendarly challenged.

This bold prediction is based on the distinctive style of reasoning at Stabley Times -- a kind of reasoning unmoored from any real facts.

We'll let the post's author, Phil Moore, unfold the chain of logic in what appears to be a hastily written and poorly edited post.

"Apple says the release date for the iOS 7 system software is in the fall of 2013, which it won't acknowledge the existence of the iPhone 6, it'll be released the same week as iOS 7," he declares. This sounds like Moore has uncovered some deeply buried Apple secret. But most people clearly expect that whenever the Next iPhone is released, it will be running the next version of iOS.

"But a look inside the early test versions of iOS 7 says it's more complete than its beta 1 tag would suggest, and that it may be ready to go well ahead of the beginning of fall in late September," Moore continues. What "beta 1" and "ready to go" mean to Apple insiders with regard to a major release of its mobile operating system is not very clear.

"Even if Apple takes three full months to get iOS 7 ready for prime time, that still means the iPhone 6 release date can come as early as the end of August or Labor Day," Moore concludes in a breathtaking leap of logic. "All that Apple has to do is put the iPhone 6 into factory production sooner, to match the ready date for iOS 7."

"All that Apple has to do ..." Moore seems to think that all those Chinese worker bees in Foxconn's assembly plants are just sitting around smoking cigarettes and playing mahjong as they wait for Apple CEO Tim Cook to call from One Infinite Loop and bark, "Throw the switch!"

One can only hope that Cook next remembers to call all the shipping and logistics firms, the carrier partners, retailers, marketing collateral designers, box companies, sales trainers, customer support staff, and the rest of the multitudes involved in actually bringing a product to market.

But let's not get bogged down in details. "Between now and then, the best way to gauge how soon the iPhone 6 release date is coming is to keep an ear to the ground regarding the ongoing development of iOS 7 as the summer progresses," Moore assures his readers. "Early reports peg it as being rather far along. If that keeps up, the iPhone 6 will arrive sooner than later. The smart bet is Labor Day."

Of course it is, when about 35 million people, who will have been traveling at least 50 miles from home (based on AAA's historical data) are fighting traffic and each other on their way back. That's roughly the same number AAA forecast for Memorial Day 2013. Maybe they'll cut short their three-day weekend at Myrtle Beach, S.C. Or change their travel destinations to the nearest Apple retail store in Charleston, S.C., just two hours and 19 minutes away.

iPhone 6 fingerprint scanner will be built into the tablet's bezel

The iPhone Fingerprint Scanner rumor lives on, now having mutated. Since at least July 2012, when Apple's acquisition of AuthenTec was revealed, the iOSphere has been saying that Apple will incorporate that vendor's fingerprint scanner into the iPhone's home button.

Now, it's going to be embedded somewhere in the bezel, apart from the button.

The source of this latest rumor is the revelation of another Apple patent application, filed in January-April of this year, and covered this week by PatentlyApple. The headline: "Apple Invents a Fingerprint Scanner that could be Discretely Hidden within the Bezel of an iDevice, MacBook & Beyond."

"Apple states that technically, 'bezel' means a unitary, substantially uniformly composed structure, most typically metal or conductive plastic," according to Jack Purcher. "The die and the bezel are encased in a unitary encapsulation structure to protect those elements from mechanical, electrical, and environmental damage, yet with a portion of a surface of the die and the bezel exposed or at most thinly covered by the encapsulation or other coating material structure."

It's a bit unclear as to why this is seen as a breakthrough. Depending on the actual implementation, Apple's approach might mean that the scanner would be invisible or largely unnoticed under the bezel, and activated by pressing or swiping your thumb. Which would seem to mean that the scanner takes up another section of the bezel, separate from the section occupied by the current home button.

As usual, neither the patent application nor PatentlyApple used the term "iPhone 6" but that didn't stop some in the iOSphere.

The headline at TrustedReviews: "iPhone 6 fingerprint scanner could be hidden in the bezel."

And at KnowYourMobile: "iPhone 6 fingerprint scanner detailed in patent filing."

"We say the iPhone 6 because recent leaked images [see above 'iPhone 5S logic board and display assembly materialize'] of the iPhone 5S show nothing remotely resembling this feature," KnowYourMobile's Richard Goodwin confidently declares.

He's right. You couldn't see a space on the display assembly labeled "Fingerprint scanner goes here."

"Increasingly it seems the iPhone 5S - like the iPhone 4S - will be an incremental update, adding in only a few snippets of updated hardware and some new imaging capabilities," Goodwin, damning with faint, very faint, praise. "The iPhone 6 will be the big one - or, the update people have been waiting for since 2012 - and is expected to carry a larger display, different chassis design, and - if Apple's recent patent is anything to go by - a fingerprint scanner built into its bezel."

Goodwin fully and faithfully embraces the Apple Technological Imperative: if Apple has applied for a patent on it, then it will appear in the next iPhone.

iPhone 6 will have liquid cooling

With just five brief paragraphs this week, DigiTimes, the technology haiku experts, again sent a thrill through the iOSphere.

Here's the headline: "First-tier players may release smartphones that adopt heat pipes by the end of the year."

From the post, by reporters Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai: "Smartphone players such as Apple, Samsung Electronics and High Tech Computer (HTC) have started showing interest in adopting ultra-thin heat pipes for their smartphones and are expected to release heat pipe-adopted models in the fourth quarter, at the earliest, according to sources from cooling module player."

They note that NEC recently released in Japan the Medias X06E smartphone, which uses heat pipe technology to keep it running cool.

According to the Wikipedia entry, heat pipes in this case would be very small-diameter tubes, filled with a heat-sensitive fluid kept at very low pressure. As the liquid absorbs heat from, say, a hard-working smartphone CPU, it turns to vapor. Then it flows through the tube to a cold "interface" where it condenses into a liquid again, releasing the latent heat in the process. Capillary action through surface tension is enough to move the fluid back to the heat source. It's reportedly a very efficient heat transfer system, without any moving parts. It's already being used in some notebooks and ultrabooks.

The DigiTimes post concludes by noting there are "several cooling module players including Japan-based Furukawa Electric, Taiwan-based Chaun-Choung Technology, Auras and TaiSol Electronics, who are all developing the super-thin tubes."

The iOSphere easily drew a lot of conclusions from the revelation that Apple, among others, has "started to show interest" in this technology.

"Apple is planning a liquid-cooled iPhone (and so are Samsung and HTC)," read the headline from Jony Evans, writing Computerworld's Apple Holic blog.

"There is talk the technology will be ready for smartphones by the end of this year so there is a very good chance it could be found in the Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 6 next year," said the ever-optimistic Mark Chubb, at PhonesReview.

Not everyone was impressed. "Personally, I'd rather have chip companies make more power efficient chips than to see smartphone makers start adopting exotic cooling solutions," writes Stefan Constantinescu of iPhoneHacks. "What's next, a phone with an exhaust vent?"

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

Twitter: @johnwcoxnww


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