Buying a new iPhone is great, but two years later you're wanting a new one and can't wait until your contract ends. Several carriers are now accommodating the desire of fanboys to constantly be upgrading to the latest and greatest by offering plans with early upgrade cycles. And the big news is that Apple is reported to begin selling phones for these plans as part of a pilot program in Apple Stores later this month.
It's quite possible that Apple itself doesn't yet know when the iPhone 6 will be announced, since there are so many factors involved in ramping up production for the huge number of devices that Apple sells.
There have been months of rumors regarding the next iPhone, dubbed the "iPhone 6" by bloggers and the media. Increasingly the rumors are coming from reliable sources, and some are now being supported by leaked images. Here's a roundup of what the rumors are saying.
Yesterday Apple forecast revenue of $37–40 billion for the September quarter. That compares to their record revenue of 37.4 billion in the just-ended June quarter. The forecast was lower than many analysts were expecting. And since everyone is expecting Apple to sell a huge number of iPhone 6 units when it launches, that forecast suggests the iPhone 6 will arrive no sooner than late September. The betting right now is on September 26 as the launch date. That would still be in September, thereby boosting revenues the last few days of the month, but not early enough to push anticipated revenue over $40 billion.
If there's any doubt that the iPhone 6 is generating excitement, that's put to rest by the fact that Chinese online sellers on the Alibaba website have already begun taking preorders for the phone. What other phone would start selling even before it's announced?
Apple will be releasing their June quarterly earnings report tomorrow after the market closes, and will be answering questions from investors. Of course, investors are eager to know how Apple did, and expectations for this quarter are fairly high. But even more important for many is the guidance Apple will give regarding the September quarter. Wall Street always wants to know not only how Apple did, but how it expects to do in the coming quarter. And if, as everyone is expecting, Apple begins selling the iPhone 6 in September, that will certainly affect Apple's earnings forecast for the September quarter. So Apple's guidance should give a clue regarding what we'll see and when. Of course, Apple never explicitly says what's coming. If the guidance is especially high, it could mean we'll get something in addition to the iPhone 6 before the end of September.
Apple's main competitor these days seems not to be other phones but rather the high expectations created by the rumor mill. I'm among those who've stoked the expectation for a sapphire display on the iPhone 6. But the latest scratch test of an alleged iPhone 6 front panel reveals that it's not pure sapphire but likely has a sapphire composite laminate on the display. As the test shows, it's definitely harder and more scratch-resistant than Gorilla Glass but not as hard as the pure sapphire used in the Home button. Marques Brownlee, whose earlier scratch-test video I covered in this post, explains in his newest video (embedded below) the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. Minerals are rated on a scale of 1 to 10, with diamond being the hardest at 10. Simply, any mineral on the scale can scratch minerals rated below it but not anything rated above it. Gorilla Glass comes in at 6.8 on the scale. Sapphire is 9. The only thing that should be able to scratch sapphire should be diamond. But in his test he shows how both garnet sandpaper (rated 7) and emery sandpaper (rated 8) can scratch the iPhone 6 front panel, suggesting it's not pure sapphire.
Two rumors courtesy of a report in Taiwan's Economic News Daily indicate that Apple is ramping up to begin production of the iPhone 6. According to the report, mass production of the 4.7-inch phone will begin this month (specifically, the third week of July), with mass production of the 5.5-inch phone expected to begin in August.
Since the iPhone 6 is expected to have a larger, 4.7-inch display, naturally it will need a battery with greater capacity. The question is how much larger the capacity will be. The iPhone 5s has a capacity of 1,570 mAh, and an earlier rumor pegged the iPhone 6 battery at between 1,800 and 1,900 mAh. Now the French site Nowhereelse.fr has posted photos of a battery alleged to be from an iPhone 6. The photo shows the battery has a rating of 1,810 mAh.
Yet more evidence that Apple is gearing up to begin manufacturing the iPhone 6 is the appearance online of a photo said to be the Touch ID sensor that will be used in the new phone.