iPhone 5 rumour rollup for the week ending May 27

The iOSphere buzzes with a multitude of rumours, rumblings and possibilities ... but are any of them true? Read on.

Perhaps iPhone 5 should be called iPhone 3.999, the finely calculated diagonal measurement of what many in the iOSphere believe is the new, bigger, better display of the next iPhone.

Also this week: tiny pictures of new parts show big differences, even if now one knows what they are; a confusion of dates; and the Tribute Phone.

You read it here second.


"The authenticity of all of the parts has yet to be confirmed, but past history suggests that these components are frequently genuine parts leaked from Apple's supply chain." -- Eric Slivka, MacRumors, on why unconfirmed "leaked" parts nevertheless can be trusted to show us something about iPhone 5, even though no one knows what that something actually is.


Apple testing two or more iPhone 5 designs, with 3.999-inch screen "Apple is testing multiple next-generation iPhones, and we have independently heard that at least one of these devices sports a brand new display," declares 9to5Mac.

IONAPPLE: iPhone display rumors galore

It's unclear what 9to5Mac means by "independently heard." "Dependently heard" makes more sense, since they're depending on at least one person or perhaps on another rumor site for the assertions. But needless to say, there's not a hint of who the source might be. Electricpig charitably if unjustifiably assumes in its headline that 9to5Mac has a "secret source," and later, with even more charity and even less justification, assumes it's a "secret insider."

Apple is testing "a few next-generation iPhone candidates," 9to5Mac claims. Two of these candidates have "a larger display," specifically 3.999 inches diagonally. "Apple will not just increase the size of the display and leave the current resolution, but will actually be adding pixels to the display," according to the website.

9to5Mac doesn't reference The Verge post several weeks ago that laid all this out, but here it is, one of the rare iPhone 5 blog posts that was genuinely speculative. The Verge post explains that by changing the iPhone's aspect ratio from the current 3:2 to 9:5, Apple could create an iPhone with a significantly larger screen area but keep the same overall phone dimensions. The screen would have the same width, 1.84 inches, but would be longer 3.49 inches compared to the current 2.91. Importantly, that change would preserve Apple's Retina Display pixel density.

One difference between The Verge and 9to5Mac is that the former speculated that the new vertical pixel total is 1152 and the latter asserts that it's 1136. John Gruber, at Daring Fireball, thinks the 1136 number makes more sense: His calculations show 1136x640 pixels would be "one pixel away" from a 16:9 aspect ratio.

"We've also heard that Apple will be taking full advantage of their new pixels," announces 9to5Mac, as though this would be a change from Apple's lax past practice of letting all those pixels go to waste.

"Apple is currently testing builds of iOS 6 that are custom-built to the new iPhone's display. These builds include a tweaked home screen with a fifth row of icons (besides the stationary app dock) and extended application user interfaces that offer views of more content," according to 9to5Mac.

They seem to be suggesting that iPhone 5 would have a unique version of the iOS firmware, which seems unlikely, to put it mildly. Rollup assumes iOS would have code to detect that it's being installed on a bigger-screened iPhone and then make whatever adjustments the UI would require.

In a separate post related to the possible pixel/aspect ratio change, Gruber says it would add some work and complexity for developers, but Apple could have an option for minimizing that. "iPhone apps are already expected to be at least somewhat flexible in height," he explains. "In short, 'windows' on iOS resize like windows on a Mac. Except instead of the user being able to resize the window in both dimensions to any arbitrary size, on iOS 'windows' are expected to resize only in one dimension."

If, as some expect, Apple introduces iOS 6 at its upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference, it could encourage developers to be flexible "by changing the way notification banners are displayed," Gruber says. Currently, these banners "are shown one at a time, and cover the content of the underlying app." If Apple adopts something like WebOS format, then the banners would "stack" on the screen, and the app shrinks to fit the remaining space.

"If Apple introduced something like this in iOS 6, they could encourage iOS developers to adopt the recommended APIs to be responsive to changes in available vertical screen space," Gruber speculates. "For now, they could pitch this in the context of shrinking screen space in response to on-screen notification banners, but, come October, apps that do the right thing would automatically be responsive to, say, a new device with 176 more pixels."

Whatever 9to5Mac "independently heard," it apparently didn't hear much in the way of details about all these test units floating around. The post says nothing about the screen size of the other units, or in what ways the two 3.999-inch units are otherwise alike or different.

"Leaked" iPhone 5 parts show "distinct" but incomprehensible differences MacRumors published pictures, obtained from a source who has a "supplier," purportedly of the Next iPhone's home button flex cable and front and rear cameras.

Rollup gets a thrill just reading the words "flex cable."

"The photos are extremely small," notes MacRumors, with masterful understatement, "but at a minimum the home button flex cable and front camera assembly show distinct differences from their iPhone 4S counterparts, although they may end up being functionally indistinguishable from the user's perspective."

One waits eagerly but in vain for any explanation or even speculation about what these distinct differences actually mean.

"The rear camera appears very similar to modules used in the last several generations of the iPhone, although it is lacking an associated LED flash," MacRumors observes.

"The authenticity of all of the parts has yet to be confirmed, but past history suggests that these components are frequently genuine parts leaked from Apple's supply chain," MacRumors concludes confidently. If they believe that, perhaps they'd be willing to buy this next-generation iPhone prototype that Rollup discovered recently in a local ale house.

iPhone 5 will be available in September for sure. Unless it's October. Barron's Tiernan Ray notes that two stock analysts agree that the Next iPhone will be available in fall 2012, but they differ on the month.

Cowen & Co.'s Matthew Hoffman "writes that following meetings at the CTIA Wireless trade show two weeks ago, 'we strongly believe the next iPhone is on target for a September launch,' rather than coming out in October."

The issue is whether iPhone 5 will be available in quantity for all or part of Apple's fiscal Q1, which ends in December. Hoffman picks September for a "geographically limited iPhone '5' launch late in the quarter, with a full quarter of channel fill into F1Q13."

Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster writes that "we remain comfortable with an October iPhone 5 launch." Reports that Qualcomm's cellular chip may be in limited supply for smartphones, including the next iPhone, don't bother either analyst: Both predict that Apple would be given favorable treatment in any shortage.

For what it's worth, Hoffman projects Apple will sell 170.2 million iPhone units in fiscal 2013, up from 150.2 million previously; 2013 revenues of $199.5 billion, up from $187.1 billion previously, and EPS of $54 per share, up from $49.50 previously. Munster: 179 million iPhone units for 2013, revenue of $194.3 billion, and EPS of $50.27.

iPhone 5 will have "multi-point camera focusing system" Talk about "wow."

The reason for this is the fact that Apple was recently awarded a patent for a multi-point camera focusing system, as noted by AppleInsider.

According to the website, the MPCFS patent "describes a system that lets the user of a camera-equipped device select two or more areas of focus on a touchscreen which, when a picture is taken, are passed through a dedicated image processor to produce optimal sharpness and exposure for both regions."

"[T]he patent calls for an image processor that continuously tracks the user-defined "regions of interest" in a combination of live image processing and auto-focus technology similar to that found in the iPhone 4S," AppleInsider notes. "Unlike the current handset, however, the focus will not be limited to center-weighting or face-detection and will in theory choose the best mix of camera settings to achieve the highest possible clarity in the multiple selected areas."

With that, the iOSphere was off and drawing the obvious conclusion: This patent is about to be realized in the iPhone 5.

"iPhone 5 Camera To Blow HTC One X Away With Multi-Point Touch Focus, Suggests Patent" proclaimed the headline at MotoringCrunch.com.

"We already leaped a large step forward with the new camera found on the iPhone 4S, and the reworked optics on the iPhone 5 are guaranteed to give you the chance to capture images that nobody has been able to capture previously using a smartphone," MotoringCrunch declares enthusiastically. "It is still unknown whether this technology will be used in the iPhone 5 but the competition Apple faces in the smartphone market gives it a high probability."

Way high, we're sure.

Make iPhone 5 the "Steve Jobs tribute phone" Picking up on "reports of late Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs putting in his two-cents on the design of the rumored iPhone 5," Andrew Dodson posted at iPhoneTouch.Blorge that "Apple needs to take advantage of that."

"And I don't mean that by some kind of sick, 'let's make money off our dead CEO' mentality," he snarls. "I think Apple needs to pay their final respects to Jobs through the last device that he had an opinion and offered direction about. Apple needs to release a limited edition Steve Jobs iPhone 5 in October at a premium price that true Apple fans would buy into. Include some kind of silhouette of Jobs on the back of its (hopefully metal) back and include a short, motivational quote from Jobs. Maybe, 'Here's to the crazy ones; Feb. 1955 -- Oct. 2011.'"

He even suggests using the "amazing graphic created by Jonathan Mak Long."

There's nothing new in this. "Paying tribute to people or causes isn't new to Apple," Dodson writes. "In 2004, Apple released the U2 limited edition iPod, which featured signatures of the entire band."

"So why not offer a Steve Jobs iPhone? The iPod pushed Apple into the spotlight, but it was the iPhone that pushed it -- and continues to push it -- into dominance," says Dodson. "Pay tribute to one of the world's greatest innovators of all time and give fans the 'Steve Jobs Tribute iPhone 5.'"

That does sound so much better than "Let's make money off our dead CEO."

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: @johnwcoxnww Email: john_cox@nww.comBlog RSS feed: http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/2989/feed

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John Cox

Network World (US online)
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