As we approach Apple's traditional fall window for releasing new hardware, more and more leaks will happen and more rumors will hit the media. Apple's hardware has led the smartphone and tablet revolution, and it's widely expected to pull off a similar maneuver in several new markets.
In this article we'll keep you on top of the latest news, and add a slice of sanity and insight into the crazy world of Apple rumors.
July 8, 2013
We've heard a lot about Apple's plans for a mid-range iPhone that would sport common components with the iPhone 5 but come in a plastic chassis and lack some of the features the iPhone "6" (or "5S," possibly) will have. We've even seen leaked components and a suite of colorful back-shells for the phone. But there's a video and some photos circulating online now that purport to show the leaked device's shell and screen partially assembled, and photographed alongside an iPhone 5 for comparison.
It's an attractive looking device, but the images are packed with problems—chief of which is the fact it has no buttons of any kind, and there are mere pinholes to indicate where the volume and power buttons would be. Is this, in fact, a high quality render and not the real thing? The story gets even more muddled when you hear that the source of these images, website TechDy.com, is planning on selling an identical phone to that seen in the images, but this time sporting Android rather than Apple's iOS. It is, in effect, a clone of a rumored unreleased Apple product.
The news may call into question details we've seen for the (assumed) leaked Apple hardware. Watch this space—this part of the iPhone story is likely to get interesting this week.
Digitimes.com, a sometimes-accurate predictor of Apple's next moves, is reporting that it's heard Apple's iPad 5 is on target for a September launch and will be designed much like the many rumors suggest: Thinner, shallower and much more like the current iPad Mini in terms of metal chassis and thin bezels to the screen.
But the site is also saying that Apple is still working on the final design for the upgraded iPad Mini, and is looking at a screen with an even narrower bezel yet. It's also not certain if it'll include a retina display in the Mini and thus push it diminutive tablet to the fore of the 7-inch tablet market.
July 3, 2013
French site Nowhereelse.fr has revealed yet more images of colorful plastic iPhone backplates, this time including a blue model. The pieces seem otherwise similar to earlier leaked parts, though in this case they also have protective plastic stuck to them much like that used to protect devices during manufacture and shipping. The color choices echo the primary colors Apple has previously used when expanding its iPod line to appeal to a wider audience.
The markings on the device's rear face are the only questionable aspect of the image, because they seem to say simply "iPhone" without any of the typical placeholder text Apple typically uses to label its prototypes. Other than this, it's looking like Apple's manufacturing partners really are gearing up to produce a line of colorful plastic iPhones, presumably with internal components that borrow from the current iPhone 5 design (a fact we can tell from the size and shape of the plastic cases).
Apple Close To Signing Deal With Time Warner
In a move that may fuel more speculation about an upcoming Apple iTV product, Bloomberg has reported that Apple is close to signing a deal with Time Warner Cable to allow cable subscribers to stream content to an Apple TV.
Set to happen within months, if the rumor proves true, the move represents a significant step forward for Apple because it includes streaming live TV content instead of on-demand shows.
July 2, 2013
Yet more images of what looks like the iPhone plastic chassis have hit the Internet.
The red, green and yellow parts are identical and seem to be marked as if they're part of a prototyping process. Along with the colorful components there is also a suggestion that a gold and silver colored iPhone is being made. These colors match with earlier leaked parts that do appear to be in silver and gold, which have led to speculation Apple's releasing iPhones with different colored metal chassis.
Adding yet more to the validity of the new colorful parts, the mounting points they have inside the metal shielding marry up with parts of what's assumed to be the next iPhone's motherboard.
Over the last day it has emerged that Apple, or persons acting on its behalf, have also applied for an iWatch trademark in Mexico, Taiwan, Turkey and Colombia. In the case of Mexico, the application is directly tied to Apple's HQ address at 1, Infinite Loop in Cupertino, California. All applications seem to have been filed within a week, in early June.
A concerted global trademarking effort is interesting, because it indicates Apple is aggressively pursuing the IP for the name of a product called iWatch. In previous cases, such as the iPad, Apple also filed many applications for associated or possibly back-up trademarks—but in some cases did so through a subsidiary company, in order to conceal its identity.
Notably missing from the list are any countries in Europe. There is a European trademark application for the name "iWatch," however, which was filed on December 30th, 2012. It's for a wrist-born device that communicates with a phone. The filing entity is AIODistribution Limited, in London—a firm that has a website that is conspicuously empty of data. This trademark application has been opposed several times in April of this year, with one of the opposing companies being the Italian makers of the Android-powered i'm Watch smartwatch. It's not clear if AIODistribution is related to Apple in any way, but the opposition to the existing trademark indicates that any effort to trademark the name in the E.U. may be tricky.
In April, Apple saw its iPad Mini trademark application at first opposed then supported by the USPTO.
July 1, 2013
According to Bloomberg, Apple filed for a local trademark for the name "iWatch" with the Japanese authorities on June 3. The filing has since been made public, and though Apple has in the past filed for many trademarks as a protective move, this one is stirring debate about Apple's plans for entering the wearable tech marketplace.
In early June, other reports surfaced suggesting Apple filed for local trademark protection for the name "iWatch" in Russia. Since the beginning of 2013, many rumors have surfaced about an Apple smartwatch, with the suggestion that Apple's devoted a 100-person team to the task of developing the product. Tim Cook also noted that a wrist-born device was "interesting" when he spoke at the recent AllThingsD event.
A smartwatch may be a clever idea for Apple, because it leverages some of the slowly growing excitement about wearable tech in a less controversial way than Google's Glass device, and could create a new revenue stream as the smartphone and tablet markets mature.
[Image: Flickr user Markus]
We've heard many suggestions that Apple is planning on releasing a plastic-framed iPhone alongside the new iPhone for 2013, presumably with the intention of targeting the mid-low range of phone buyers who don't want to plash out on a full-price iPhone. Until now, though, we've not seen conclusive proof. But via 9to5Mac.com we've seen a photo of what could be the plastic rear shell of an iPhone "lite," complete with metallic shielding or antenna parts inside. The shape and size of the shell is similar to the iPhone 5—which tallies with earlier rumors that the plastic iPhone would have a very similar shape as its smarter cousin, albeit being slightly thicker to deal with the flimsiness of plastic.
Separately French site Nowhereelse.fr found three similar plastic backs, in yellow, green and red colors.
The leaked parts are entirely unverified, of course. But they do have a ring of plausibility to them. Firstly there's the fact that they align with previous rumors, including ones about colorful iPhones. Then there's the question of those intriguing metal inserts. The iPhone 5 borrowed from previous iPhone designs and has parts of its metal edge act as the various antennas for 4G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals—this complex construction certainly adds to the price of the iPhone 5 (and presumably the iPhone 5S, rumored to be the 2013 update for the phone). But in a plastic shell, Apple could easily use thin metal sheets inside the case as both shielding for the phone's internal components and as antennas. Separate leaks have shown what's assumed to be parts from the upcoming iPhone, and each is slightly different to the circuitry in the iPhone 5...but these parts could easily be for the plastic iPhone.
What's your opinion on this: Will Apple really target a new market with a mid-price iPhone alongside its next-edition flagship smartphone?