By Jim Karpen on Mon, 11/12/2012
We wouldn't expect a new iPhone until September of 2013 but already the rumors are beginning. DigiTimes, which has a spotty record in the rumor department, has today posted a translation of some news carried by the Taiwanese newspaper the Commercial Times. Their report says that trial production of an iPhone 5S will begin in December, with 50,000-100,000 units. Why so soon? The reason the iPhone 5 is in short supply is due to low "yield rates." That is, too many of the parts, or iPhone units themselves, are rejected as defective. That results in increased costs and short supplies. The reason they're defective is that Apple is pushing the envelope in regard to technological design, and the manufacturers find it difficult to produce these new technologies. But eventually they get the kinks worked out, and production ramps up. Right now we're still in the kinks stage, though Foxconn says that production is flowing much better now.
So if that's the case, then why not start the process sooner? Well, that's what this report is saying. Apple is getting a jump on the next model by having this early trial production of up to 100,000 devices. The report also says that full volume production will start in the first quarter of next year. No rumors regarding what a new iPhone might entail, and it's hard to imagine. But since we got a big change in form factor this year, next year will likely be under-the-hood changes. Maybe a new, more powerful version of Siri? That would make the most sense, and we know that Apple is already working on that. Plus, the rumor uses the name "iPhone 5S," but with no explanation. If it will indeed by an iPhone 5S, then I'm guessing that the "S" will again relate to Siri.
Today's report also says that Apple is working on a higher resolution version of the iPad, presumably referring to the iPad mini. I think that's a given. And I also think it's a given that the next iteration of the full-sized iPad will move to IGZO display technology. This is, apparently, the wave of the future, and Apple has already in the past been rumored to be moving in this direction. This type of display needs less power, which would mean that the battery could be smaller -- and that the device could be much thinner and lighter. Apple always makes user experience paramount, and a full-sized iPad that's even more portable could be the model's next big feature. It seems inevitable.
So there we have it -- the first rumor of the next iPhone cycle. It's almost like the endless presidential campaign, with prospective candidates already starting to make their moves just as the outcome of the current election has been settled.