This week: the wow of core confusion, palpitations over an earlier announcement date, an explosively self-combustive and bad omen, and epistemological angst in the iOSphere.
You read it here second.
"Know Your Mobile, however, still can't see Apple bringing the release date forward two whole months. ... Put simply this is no more than wishful thinking, in our eyes ..." -- Richard Goodwin, KnowYourMobile.com, generously describing the speculation that Apple will release iPhone 5 in August as "thinking"
iPhone 5 will have a quad-core processor after all
A DigiTimes post reignited faith that iPhone 5 will have a quad-core processor, usually referred to as the A6, even though there's no indication that doubling the number of cores would actually deliver significant improvements to the user experience.
The DigiTimes post, widely referred to as both a "story" and a "report," consists of five sentences, derived from otherwise-anonymous "industry sources." The two writers, David Shen and Steve Shen, don't even bother to say which industry: smartphone, semiconductor, supply chain, janitorial services or hospitality.
Sentence one: "Competition for quad-core smartphones will heat up in the fourth quarter of 2012, triggering by the roll-out of much speculated new iPhone and models built based on Qualcomm's quad-core chips, according to industry sources."
Sentence five, which pretty much repeats sentence one: "Additionally, Apple is also expected to release its next-generation iPhone built on Samsung's Exynos 4 quad-core processor in the second half, heating up competition in the segment, commented the sources."
Strictly speaking this last sentence means that DigiTimes sources are saying nothing more than that the Next iPhone "is expected" (by whom?) to have a CPU that's based on the newest Samsung-designed quad-core chip.
"Wow," writes Michael Nace, at iPhone 5 News Blog, apparently without irony.
The rumor that the Next iPhone will have a four-core processor has been around for over a year: Many confidently predicted that what turned out to be the iPhone 4S would have such a CPU. In fact, it uses the Apple-designed, Samsung-built dual-core A5, first introduced in iPad 2.
(Something similar happened for the iPad 3. For example Jonathan Geller, at Boy Genius Report, publishing photos that "showed" the Next iPad would have a four-core CPU; Apple stuck with a slightly modified version of the A5, called the A5X, which replaced an integrated dual-core graphics processor with a quad-core model.)
Smartphones with quad-core CPUs have started to appear from a few vendors such as HTC, Samsung and LG Electronics. The DigiTimes post simply reignites the debate over Apple's plans without actually contributing anything to it.
AppleInsider describes the original DigiTimes post as a "report" from the "sometimes-reliable DigiTimes." Most of its own "report" is a rehash of Apple's A5 chip evolution.
At Tech Source, Marius Maria -- erring on the side of wildly over-the-top generosity in describing DigiTimes as "a publication famous for their accurate rumors about the unreleased Apple products" -- claims the new rumor is that the iPhone 5 CPU "will be based on the technology used by Samsung for their Exynos 4 Quad CPUs. Until now, Apple used ARM processors compatible with the iDevices, and Samsung was the company that manufactured them."
This implies that something is changing in the iPhone 5 besides the number of cores. But Apple's A series chips have always been based on ARM's technology, with the A5 and A5X using the ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore CPU. And as AnandTech's Brian Klug notes, the Samsung Exynos 4 for the newest Galaxy smartphone is also based on ARM Cortex A9s.
What may end up being different for the iPhone 5 is not the number of cores, but the chip's process technology: the current A5 generation is a 45-nanometer process by Samsung; the Exynos 4 is a 32-nm process, according to Klug, with resulting lower power demands.
AnandTech's Anand Lal Shimpi seems to have been the only one to notice that after the new iPad was announced this year, Apple has already quietly introduced a 32-nm dual-core chip. Some of these repriced iPad 2 tablets now being sold (and the third-generation Apple TV) are using a 32-nm Samsung version of the A5 chip instead of the customary 45-nm, with the same transistor technology Samsung is using in the Exynos 4.
That change, Lal Shimpi says, gives Apple several benefits: Apple reduces its system-on-chip costs, and maintains its margins; dramatically reduces the overall surface size of the package; increases transistor density; and tests out a new process technology on a relatively low-volume existing product.
iPhone 5 will be announced in August, to counter Samsung's success
Richard Goodwin, at Know Your Mobile, added his patches to one rumor quilt, announcing to his readers that "The iPhone 5 could be launching in August, two months ahead of schedule, in an attempt to stifle the runaway success of Samsung's Galaxy S3, according to sources from Asia."
That sounds pretty definite. Yet Goodwin then undermines his sources for this announcement, calling it into question, and ends his post with exactly the opposite conclusion: "Know Your Mobile, however, still can't see Apple bringing the release date forward two whole months. The affect that it would have on the production process, given its complexity, would be disastrous. Put simply this is no more than wishful thinking, in our eyes ..."
There are at least two problems with Goodwin's starting conclusion. One is that Apple has never publicly announced a "schedule" for iPhone 5, so it's impossible to say that an August announcement is "ahead of schedule." It's earlier than the announcement of iPhone 4S, but that's not the same thing.
Secondly, the "sources from Asia" are not people that Goodwin has talked to directly, or even indirectly. He based his post on a post at "247Emirates.com" (it's actually Emirates247.com) which claimed that iPhone 5 will be announced in August. The article actually cites no sources for this claim. It does reference a Taiwan news source but not for the date change: "Taiwan's Central News Agency quoting local media said [prices of] shares of Taiwanese suppliers to Apple had moved up following the reports."
But it's enough for Goodwin. "Earlier this week we reported on the possibility of a September launch for Apple's sixth-generation iPhone. That is no longer the case, according to tech blog 247Emirates, which reports that Apple is keen to get the handset to market early so as to stifle the massive sales threat posed by Galaxy S3."
As we saw, Emirates 24|7 only is confusedly repeating and interpreting what it gleaned from an overseas website. Goodwin himself then acknowledges the suspect rumoring: "As with most 'iPhone 5 release date' leaks there are no reputable sources credited. In the context of this yarn the original report came via Taiwan's Central News Agency, which means the information presented here is not to be taken as gospel." You'd never guess that skepticism from his story to this point or its headline: "iPhone 5 release date brought forward to August."
The really implausible part of the rumor is that Apple is "reacting" or "responding" to Samsung's undeniable success with the new Galaxy S III smartphone, which is expected to sell 10 million units by the end of July, according to Goodwin.
"[T]hat's certainly a lot of people who won't be buying the iPhone 5 when it launches, but would they anyway?" asks Stephen Schenck at Pocketnow. "[W]e can't imagine that a large number of regular Apple customers will jump ship for Android over the prospect of waiting a couple more months for a new iPhone."
There's nothing in Apple's history at least since the introduction of the first iPhone that indicates the company "reacts" to its rivals. As Schenck writes, "We really can't see it panicking to the point that it rushes the iPhone 5 launch solely because of a successful Android device."
iPhone 5 is in trouble because an iPhone 4S model "explodes"
A video now current on the Web purports to show ... well, something happening to an iPhone 4S in the pocket of a 17-year-old kid, named Henri Helminen. And by the logic of the iOSphere, it's an "omen" for the Next iPhone.
ITProPortal's Rawiya Kameir says that the video shows the phone "spontaneously combusting," though his headline says it "allegedly explodes." To back it up, he and so many others, have a picture of the ruined phone and a link to the video that "shows" the entire incident.
So it must be true. As one headline puts it: "Exploding iPhone No Tall Tale, Incident Caught On CCTV Camera." The "security camera" in question is conveniently positioned to show no details of the van at lower right, such as the license plate, or even the driver. But by a stroke of serendipity its pointing to exactly where in the parking lot Helminen saunters, after emerging from the passenger side, until he pulls the smoking device from his pocket.
Other sites claimed the phone is "exploding," the most popular term; others that it "combusts" or "bursts into flames," or is "igniting." CNET describes it, more accurately, as "violently smoking." Despite all the pyrotechnics, Helminen appears to have completely escaped injury: CNET says the exploding-combusting-flamebursting-igniting phone "almost" injured him.
Yet to ITProPortal's Kameir, there is Something More. The video incident is ominous. It's a portent, a sign, an "omen." As his headline notes: "Bad omen for the iPhone 5? Apple smartphone allegedly explodes in 17-year-old's pocket."
A bad omen. What does that even mean here? Let's see if we can follow the thought process: An unconfirmed video of a heat-challenged iPhone, one of less than a handful in five years from what Rollup can tell, becomes -- simply by asking the question -- an omen of the Next iPhone.
What's the connection between one "exploding" iPhone 4S and the unannounced iPhone 5? There is none. One can't make an illogical connection, never mind a logical one. Heck, you can't even make a magical connection between the two. It's like saying "Bad omen for the 2013 Honda Civic? A 2012 Honda Civic's engine falls out of car."
iPhone 5 could be completely different from the rumors
"Everything We Know Could Be Wrong" shouts the headline at GottaBeMobile.
And why is that, you ask?
Because according to Josh Smith, who wrote the article carrying that headline, the rumors could be, you know, wrong.
What an idea.
"The iPhone 5 release date is still months away, but thanks to all of these leaks many of us think we know what the iPhone 5 will look like and when it will launch," he starts out, confidently. Supremely confidently since a "leak" in journo-speak means inside, privileged information that has been deliberately but anonymously released to reporters. Sort of like Tim Cook calling up Walt Mossberg and saying, "Don't say you got this from me, Walt, but ..."
Except almost none of the alleged "leaks" fit this description. Much of the information allegedly about the Next iPhone comes, it is claimed, from anonymous employees at component manufacturers in the Far East. Many times it's not clear that these companies are even Apple suppliers.
"Despite all the sources, and all the 'confirmed' rumors, our current vision of the iPhone 5 could be completely wrong," Smith writes, in an unexpected epistemological frisson, which are rare in the iOSphere.
Smith's technique is to take a particular rumor and simply discount it. That larger 4-inch diagonal screen? "Speaking of the rumored bigger screen for the iPhone 5, we might not see that either. Apple ... could opt to keep the display of the next iPhone at 3.5 inches." LTE? "While Verizon and AT&T are all about 4G LTE smartphones, there is a small chance that Apple could skip 4G LTE in the iPhone 5. Granted, this would not be a popular decision ..."
What about the announcement date? "While October is a very good bet for Apple, the company could launch the iPhone 5 at any time," Smith writes astutely.
So whatever you think you know about iPhone 5, you don't really know, but you might, because you never know, and anyway who knows?
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: @johnwcoxnww Email: email@example.comBlog RSS feed: http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/2989/feed
Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section.