iPhone 6 rumor rollup for the week ending June 28

The photoleaks of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 5S - or something become a photophlood this week, revealing that, among other things, the Next iPhone will indeed have a battery.

On the smaller-is-better-nanometer front, there was new hope that the iPhone 6 will have a chip made with a 20-nanometer process. Which would mean, well, good news. Also, a reminder that iPhone 6 and possibly iPad 5 will be announced Saturday June 29 amid a celebration of "Original Passion, New Ideas" even though as of Friday afternoon no one apparently has been invited. And the iOSphere gets to see a Chinese iPhone 5S assembly line in action, more or less.

You read it here second.

__________"The [iPhone 5S] handset will launch with the same design as its predecessor.  It will come with barely updated components and will lack the feature set that would put it on an even playing field with the Samsung Galaxy S 4. In other words, the iPhone 5S could very well disappoint those who have come to expect big things from Apple."

~ Don Reisinger, eWeek.com, in his "news analysis" of the design, components, and feature set of Apple's unannounced next iPhone relies entirely on rumors to confidently conclude it will be a failure.__________

iPhone 6 in 2014 will have a 20-nanometer system-on-chip

If it's smaller, it's better.

The iOSphere was thrilled when DigiTimes posted yet another anonymously sourced story that says Apple has signed a deal with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to create the next Apple A-series chips using 20, 16 and 10 nanometer process nodes. Both TSMC and its integrated chip design service partner, Global UniChip, declined comment.

DigiTimes' "industry sources" for this post said that the 20nm process will be used for building Apple's A8 chip, starting in small volumes in July 2013, with new equipment being installed to process 50,000 wafers in the first calendar quarter of 2014. DigiTimes: "The upcoming Apple A8 processor will be found in a new iPhone slated for release in early 2014, and the A9/A9X chips will be used in the newer-generation iPhone and iPad products, the sources claimed."

TSMC has a Webpage on its 20nm technology

There's been speculation but no details about a purported A7 chip for the 2013 iPhone. Just this week, there were photographs alleged to be of the interior of an early iPhone 5S prototype (more on this below). But apparently little could actually be learned from the processor shown in the photos.

DigiTimes posted in April about TSMC and Apple moving forward with 20nm. Picking up on the post, MacRumors talked to former TSMC director Kurt Wolf, who said that Apple's chip options for 2013 products included "smaller and more efficient versions of the existing A6 family based on a 28-nm process rather than the current 32-nm process, a more substantially modified A6 to boost power, or a new A7 chip built on the 28-nm process before being moved to 20-nm next year."

The move to a 20 nanometer process is apparently a controversial one in the silicon industry, as noted in this blog post at Altera, a custom logic developer. [ZDNet's John Morris has a bit more accessible December 2012 article, "The chip industry's looming 20-nanometer cliff"] 

The technology, as both the articles stress, complicates a wide range of issues both in manufacturing and in systems design. For one thing, TSMC has said that 20nm technology will boost raw speed by 30%, not the 100 percent more commonly achieved in moving to a next-generation process. Another issue is concern that the cost per transistor for 20nm may never drop below that of the current 28nm node.

According to the Altera post, 20nm will double the number of transistors, which apparently will be one of the most important changes. "The early adopters will be only those devices that can translate the doubled transistor count into a substantial edge in system performance, power consumption, or cost," according to the blogpost. "Early examples will include multicore server CPUs, CPU/GPU combination chips, high-end FPGAs, and certain ASIC SoCs--probably starting in the mobile market."

iPhone 5S will have A7 chip

Or at least an alleged December 2012 iPhone 5S prototype had something that can be interpreted as an A7 chip.

This week, MacRumors "received" two new photographs, similar to what they received last week, of what the website now labels a "prototype" iPhone 5S, and asserts in the accompanying post that the visible processor is the A7 or a prototype, based on its markings.

"The original A6 chip carried a model number of APL0598, with the A6X found in the fourth-generation iPad carrying an APL5598 model number, demonstrating how Apple varies the first digit for members of a given A-series family and increments the second digit when transitioning to a new family," writes Eric Slivka.

"As seen in one [new] photo, the chip carries an Apple model number of APL0698, suggesting that this is indeed intended to be branded as an A7 chip rather than a modification on the A6 chip found in the iPhone 5," according to Slivka

The other photo shows the interior of the prototype iPhone compared side by side with the corresponding interior of the iPhone 5.

"In addition to the 1243 date code visible in the previous photo, the new photo also clearly shows another date code of 1239 for the DRAM, indicating that that portion of the chip was manufactured in late September 2012," according to Slivka. "We have also determined that the device itself was assembled in December 2012, making it a rather early prototype."

But we don't actually know how "early" in Apple's product development process we are by looking at these photos. For all we know, a December 2012 prototype may be quite late, assuming that it's intended for 2013 release and not for 2014 or even later. Or, perhaps, not at all.

When MacRumors showed last week's photos, Slivka declared that "The device appears to carry the same redesigned logic board that appeared earlier this week, suggesting that this is indeed a new iPhone."

The problem with this conclusion is it compares two distinct "data points" without being able to judge their context or their actual relationship to each other. As noted above, if this actually is a real prototype iPhone, where in the development process is it?

Even if the prototype is bona fide, it still leaves all the major questions still unanswered, including, "if it will be running an A7 system-on-chip, will it have the power to drive a Retina display while maintaining the same battery life?"

iPhone 5S will be announced Saturday June 29

There are rumors going around that the iPhone 6 could be coming our way on June 29 and would mark the six-year anniversary of the launch of the iPhone," according to Mike Johnson, at Auto-oMobile.com

It's not because Johnson has any new information himself, just a good memory, which he's embellishing by alluding to "rumors" in the plural and "iPhone 6".

It was actually only one rumor, posted last March by Matthew Lucas of Gizmorati. He wrote: "An inside source from Apple (also confirmed by a third party) told Gizmorati that both devices, the iPhone 5S and the iPad 5 will be unveiled during a special event called Original Passion, New Ideas', on June 29, 2013."

And the significance of June 29? "This event is intended to celebrate six years from the launch of the original iPhone, under the leadership of Steve Jobs and the release of the iPhone 5S and iPad 5, under the leadership of Apple's current CEO, Tim Cook, as both of these devices are developed entirely under Cook's authority...," according to Lucas.

Johnson doesn't seem entirely convinced. "However a Saturday launch would be something very new for Apple," he writes.

Not to mention that, as of Friday afternoon, Apple apparently has not invited anyone to attend the event.

iPhone 5S will have battery

A "stolen picture was sent to us late yesterday afternoon," according to entertaining Google translation of a post at the French tech website NoWhereElse

Talk about thrills. And what did this act of thievery reveal? Batteries. Packed in plastic containers. But not just any batteries. Though unlabeled and indeed entirely unmarked, "these batteries indeed strongly resemble those that fit the current iPhone 5," according to NoWhereElse.

MacRumors couldn't resist its own post about the French post, but mainly to highlight its own anonymous photo of a possible iPhone 5S battery, or a prototype of one. In that post, Eric Slivka notes that the photo shows a higher-capacity battery: "the battery offers a higher capacity than the iPhone 5 battery, moving from 5.45 Whr and 1440 mAh to 5.92 Whr and 1560 mAh, an increase of roughly 8%."

"Every day a leak," according to NoWhereElse. Quite so.

iPhone 5S displays revealed on assembly line

Or as the BGR headline has it: "Leaked photo shows iPhone 5S display on the assembly line

We're unsure if Dan Graziano's enthusiasm is triggered by seeing the display's front panel or the Chinese assembly line.

In any case, here's the image, which originally appeared on the Chinese blogging site Sina Weibo. It should be obvious that this is a Chinese assembly line. Though a cynic might suggest it looks like a sheet of aluminum siding. 

But apparently Graziano can tell the difference at a glance.  

"The components appear on an assembly line, lining up with earlier reports that stated mass production of Apple's iPhone 5S display has begun," he declares. "The image, which was originally spotted by GForGamers, also suggests that the smartphone will include redesigned flex cable connectors, which aligns with BGR's earlier exclusive report."

That Earlier Exclusive Report by Zach Epstein featured a handful of obscure components, which were provided by "a source that asked not to be identified." These components, which Epstein assured readers point to a "significant internal redesign" of the Next iPhone, included such revealing elements as the loud-speaker bracket, ear speaker bracket, vibrating motor assembly, Wi-Fi flex cable ribbon and, The Rollup's favorite, "two different SIM card trays." These magical trays are not only thinner than the current trays but are in two different colors, "which could support earlier rumors suggesting that the iPhone 5S will be available in several new colors," Epstein explained.

Redesigned flex cable connectors. We can hardly wait.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnwwEmail: john_cox@nww.com

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More about: Altera, Apple, Apple., ASIC, Galaxy, Google, Samsung, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, TSMC
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