A new rumor has popped up suggesting that the iPhone 6 could sport a sleek, hybrid form factor that combines both metal and plastic. But the same rumor imagines this device for 2013 — an unlikely development.
The discussion of the 2013 iPhone release is a confused one at the moment, with “iPhone 5S,” “iPhone 6,” and the el cheap-o “iPhone mini” all being bandied about by the tech media as the “next iPhone” iteration. As a result of this confused taxonomy, it’s hard to separate the refreshed iPhone 5S from the overhauled iPhone 6. But a new rumor today is quite clear: that the iPhone 6 will be released in 2013 — not 2014 as the iPhone 6 News Blog believes — and that it will sport a brand-new form factor that features mix of plastic and metal.
According to IBT:
Earlier this month, DigiTimes sparked an array of “iPhone 6” rumors with a report on Apple’s alleged plans to release a “low-cost iPhone” later this year, and actually make the display larger, not smaller. Following up on this report, Digitimes on Monday said Apple’s next-generation iPhone may feature “plastic for its chassis instead of reinforced glass or unibody metal,” which would help reduce the cost in producing the phone.
Reader beware: IBT is playing fast and loose with the term “iPhone 6″ here, ascribing it to the widely-held belief that Apple in on the verge of releasing an “inexpensive iPhone,” but not the iPhone 4, which currently retails for a whopping $0 with contract. It appears that the media is now willing to use “iPhone 6″ to describe whatever iPhone model Apple introduces in 2013 — even this inexpensive iPhone.
According to the original DigiTimes article that IBT is referencing, the plan is to use plastic in place of glass for this new el cheap-o iPhone 6:
Apple’s rumored entry-level iPhone reportedly may adopt plastic for its chassis instead of reinforced glass or unibody metal as in the company’s standard iPhone models, to save cost, according to sources from the upstream supply chain. However, Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry) declined to comment on its clients or orders when asked about the report.
Yeah, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, either.
Would changing out some of the construction materials on the current iPhone 5 significantly drive down the product costs of this inexpensive “iPhone 6?” Peter Misek over at Jefferies — who is also an evangelist for this belief in an el cheap-o iPhone — says that Apple could also go for cost cutting by making the screen non-retina and dropping LTE, while still keeping the same dimensions and overall specs of the iPhone 5. I suppose it is also possible that Apple could use the A5 chip, as well as a lesser-priced camera sensor, as another way to pencil-whip the build cost. But I still remain ambivalent about the el cheap-o iPhone. Based on the success of the iPad mini, it’s easy to imagine Apple trying to mimic the same thing with their iPhone line. In this way, the inexpensive iPhone becomes the “iPhone mini,” even if what makes it “mini” isn’t its size, but rather its price (or performance, if you want to be cynical). On the other hand, the smartphone and tablet markets are very different, and I’m not sold on the fact that Apple is terribly concerned with having to match Samsung tit for tat in the marketplace. One thing I feel quite certain about is that, if there is an inexpensive iPhone released in 2013, it isn’t going to be called the “iPhone 6.” By Michael Nace