Instability built up in the iOSsphere this past week as new parts for the iPhone 5 surfaced, "The Date" whipsawed between September and October, and maybe August, and an Australian patent revealed hitherto unknown details about The Next iPhone.
Here's the weekly iPhone 5 rumour rollup for the past week.
"Any blogger who starts a post about iPhone 5 with 'one thing we know for sure' doesn't know that either." - anonymous
Revealed: the iPhone 5 Proximity Light Sensor Flex Cable
Disappointingly, it doesn't really tell us anything about The Next iPhone. But even so!
You can actually see this marvel, which we will acronymize as iP5PLSFC, online, courtesy of SW-Box.com, aka Cellphonezone, a China-based wholesaler of direct-from-manufacturer, Chinese-made mobile phone accessories and cool gadgets.
And they have fun doing it, as the start to their strangely third-person post about the iP5PLSFC: "You have to hand it to SW-Box.com, the iPhone accessories kings for bringing you iPhone 5 replacement parts when the official iPhone 5 isn't even launched yet. LOL!"
That is pretty LOL-able.
MacPost says the new part "points [to] a major design revamp in upcoming model." Whoa. They cite, without a link, iFixit's Kyle Wiens' observation that "the new iPhone 5 parts doesn't contain the mic, whilst iPhone 4 part contains the power button, noise canceling mic and proximity/ambient light sensors." Sifting through the somewhat confusing semantics, one comes to the conclusion that Apple's major design revamp for the iP5PLSFC makes the new part less functional than the old part.
Sensing potential skepticism, even from the iOSsphere, SW-Box doesn't back down. "So you're probably asking, how did you manage to manufacture proximity light sensor flex cables when the phone itself [isn't] even out yet?" And they have answers. "The short answer. We don't just sell. We spend a lot of resources on research and intel. Did you know that the Apple factory is just a stone's throw from our offices? No? Well it is. And this iPhone 5 Proximity Light Sensor Flex Cable is the real deal."
But that doesn't actually answer the question. Are they getting it from the Apple factory that's just a stone's throw away by buying it? Or did they find some spares or perhaps defective products in the dumpster behind the factory? Or they found a box of prototypes left in a Chinese tavern?
In case you were wondering what the PLSFC actually is, SW-Box has that answer, too. "It's the part responsible for making the screen go dark when you bring your face up to your phone to talk. When this part fails, the screen doesn't fade out and you end up pressing numbers with your cheek also called 'cheek dialing'. hehe."
If it's part of the iPhone 5, it's got to be special. "What's so special about THIS Light Sensor Flex Cable anyway?" For one thing, it's "micro-architectured to stand the tests of time and heat." Centuries from now, the IP5PLSFC will still be making the screen go dark even though the earth has been turned into the Sahara Desert by global warming.
And what's more, "each cable comes with the necessary adhesive strips so they can be pressed down into the iPhone 5 back plate for easy DIY [do-it-yourself] iPhone 5 fixing." Think of that market opportunity: millions and millions of do-it-yourself iPhone users spending their weekends dismantling their iPhones and putting them back together again.
The Date: iPhone 5 will "launch" in October
All by himself, John Paczkowski of AllThingsD created an Internet frisson with his brief, single-sourced post that iPhone will "launch" in October, not September as many had thought, believed, hoped or yearned.
It was not well-received in some quarters, because it contradicts a critical source of accurate information about Apple's plans: gut feeling.
Charles Arthur, blogging at Guardian.co.uk, bases his gut feeling on speculation that Apple's iOS 5 firmware "is rolling towards a September release" though Apple hasn't said that; and on his "carrier sources" who tell him that the sealed "boxes in which the new iPhone hardware is encased have been transported to carriers for testing;" and on Steve Jobs' 2005 comment that ""Every single week before the holidays counts, and we didn't want to wait two weeks [to release a product] when every week counts with very high volumes."
Ergo, "there's no sense in waiting so long [i.e., until October]," Arthur writes. "The only reason why Apple would delay the launch in that way would be if it has hit a manufacturing problem." But supply lines are quiet; there's plenty of capacity (Apple secured it after the Japanese earthquake in March). So it can't be a supply constraint either."
He concludes: "My gut feeling, allied to the information from carriers and Apple's history, is that we're still looking at a September release. Who knows, perhaps someone was even misdirecting [Packzowski] by suggesting October, just to forestall any drop in sales over August."
The Date: September because it's launching in Canada on October 1 and the Canadians can't get it first
IPhone 5 will "touch down" in Canada on Oct. 1, "according to confirmed information we have received from a reliable source at Canadian carrier Telus," announces the BoyGeniusReport.
It's not quite clear what BGR means by "confirmed information...from a reliable source." The source apparently gave BGR an "internal Telus document that lists October 1st as the launch date." Perhaps BGR is saying that they confirmed that the person who gave them the document was in fact the person who gave them the document.
But there's a fly in this maple syrup, as BGR acknowledges: "The thing is, October 1st is a Saturday and Apple has historically released iPhones on either a Thursday evening or a Friday."
That didn't phase Chuong Nguyen, at GottaBeMobile, who's able to plumb the shallows of Internet iPhone speculation. He concludes there is hope after all: "according to BGR, the document containing the iPhone 5 launch date also lists launch dates for other devices, and those dates appear accurate suggesting that the October 1st date may in fact be true."
BGR concludes "the source does not believe a Saturday launch is unrealistic." And we don't not believe that the source isn't being unrealistic either in not believing Apple won't reverse its historical pattern and not hold to an unrealistic decision to not be predictable.
Maybe everyone is right. Apple announces the iPhone 5 in September, thus launching it. Then the carriers start actually selling it in October, thus launching it. The phone that shipped a thousand launches.
Carriers testing iPhone 5 models hidden in dummy bodies encase in locked and sealed boxes
MacRumors picked up on one part of Arthur's post, highlighted it on its own website, and so fueled a tertiary rumor. And succeeded in highlighting how weird Arthur's original point sounds.
MacRumors referenced a previous rumor story which referenced a 9to5Mac rumor story, which, citing a "previously accurate Apple source," revealed that "The next generation iPhone has reached the final testing stage (aka "AP" stage [Thanks, Chronic!]) and is now being carried around by high level Apple and carrier executives."
At the time, no one apparently thought it disquieting to have "final carrier testing" in the hands of a few corporate suits.
But now we know something more is involved, thank heavens and MacRumors and Arthur Page. "The next iPhones go for their testing inside locked and sealed boxes so that the carriers can carry out checks on their network compatibility in their labs. It's very high security, as you could guess; my understanding is that barely anyone inside the carriers gets to open those boxes, and even when they do the hardware is encased in a dummy body which means there's no clue to what the actual phone will do."
So the propeller heads hand over their first-born, open the locked box and find the Next iPhone disguised as something else. As you could guess, that might make testing the Next iPhone a bit dicey since it wouldn't actually be the Next iPhone.
But they're right about one thing: there's no clue here to what the actual phone will do.
Count on two iPhone 5s, as dumb as that sound
"Data is increasingly pointing to two releases of the iPhone 5, Apple's next-generation smartphone," begins the post at International Business Times.
Hard to be more authoritative than that: "data" as in, like, facts. But then the news site adds the Big If: "if Wall Street is to be believed, meaning one phone would come in the fourth quarter, and one shortly after."
"Wall Street" too sounds authoritative: it usually refers to the U.S. stock exchanges, where investors buy and sell stocks, betting their prices will rise or fall. That Wall Street. But for IBTimes, it actually means "the opinion of one analyst with a private investment bank," specifically, Shaw Wu of Sterne Agee.
But it's a bit confusing because the passages IBTimes quotes from Wu's analysis are about how the next iPhone likely will not have a 4G LTE radio but will have an upgraded processor, and possibly a larger screen, which would be what Wu calls an 'interim refresh' but one that "could be a bigger upgrade than we expected."
IBTimes realizes this means that the Next iPhone, iPhone 5, in Q4, will be followed by the Next Next iPhone, also the iPhone 5, presumably with 4G LTE. That's what the data increasingly is pointing to.
iPhone 5 will be made from a single sheet of metal
Australian website Smarthouse.com, "the lifestyle technology guide," found a patent filing by Apple lawyers "for what appears to be a brand new iPhone."
And you know what that means: the phone that must not be unnamed.
The patent information was found while Smarthouse apparently was searching Australia's federal patent database for information about Apple's tablet patent dispute with Samsung, which has now extended to the Australian courts (and, confusingly, over half of the Smarthouse story is about that dispute).
The patent was filed in June 2011 by attorneys for Apple. According to Smarthouse, the "patent description describes the device as being manufactured from a single sheet of metal. Apple claims that their application is for a device that is lighter and thinner than previous Apple devices" and has a bezel edge. But the web post doesn't link to the patent or quote from it.
Nevertheless Gizmocrunch was impressed. Smarthouse "uncovered a recent patent filing by Apple in Australia which is strongly believed to be related to the iPhone 5." As in "is strongly believed to be related to the iPhone 5 by two bloggers, one at Smarthouse and one at Gizmocrunch." It concludes with the characteristic iOSsphere Thermal Inversion: "Of course, there is always the odd chance that this patent is for the iPhone 6."
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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