Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Phablet iPhone to launch in May ahead of September's iPhone 6: Report

It's only been a few months since the launch of the iPhone 5s, but the iPhone 6 rumors are coming already. Not only that, if Monday's rumors (out of China, via Yahoo News, and out of South Korea, for a separate story) are true, we won't see just a new iPhone 6 this year, to go with -- what, a 6c? -- we'll see phablet-sized iPhones, too.

In 2013, there were rumors that Apple was testing iPhones with screens up to six inches in size. That was a pre-5s rumor, with a later, post-5s rumor saying that the 2014 iPhone would come in 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch sizes.

The new rumor came via Chinese publication Huanqiu and Yahoo Japan. It said that Apple is planning to debut iPhone phablets as a separate product line in May. However, these will not iPhone 6s. Those will launch later this year as expected, most likely in September, which would line up with the typical annual iPhone refresh.

If this were to happen, it would be the first time that Apple has introduced new iPhone models with disparate display sizes. 2013 was the first year that Apple introduced two new iPhone models, but the iPhone 5c had the same-sized screen as the 5s, and was seen mostly as an iPhone 5 replacement, rather than a wholly new device.

The Samsung Galaxy Note Android phone created the phablet segment in October of 2011, with a 5.3-inch screen. If the iPhone phablet rumor is true -- phablet is a combination word made up of phone and tablet, as the size is seen as a tweener between the two market segments -- it would have a 5-inch+ sized display and a 20 nanometer processor made by TSMC.

The processor could either be a new A8 processor or a revamped A7 SOC. Samsung manufactures the current 64-bit A7 processor used by the iPhone 5s and 2013 iPad models, on a HKMG 28 nanometer process, but Apple has wanted to reduce its dependence on its rival. TSMC has been expected to be the company to garner the processor orders, when that happens.

A separate report addressed the iPhone 6, rather than the phablet iPhone, and came from South Korea via ET News. Reportedly, the iPhone 6 will be released in September. The report said that the profile of the iPhone 6 would be slimmer than the 5s, but that is not surprising based on past history. What is surprising, though, is a thickness drop from 7.6mm to 6mm, about a 21 percent thickness reduction.

In addition, the same report indicated that the price of the iPhone 5s would drop to $100 in May for unspecified reasons, but a phablet launch -- as in the unrelated news item -- could certainly explain that.

It is still early in the iPhone 6 (or 2014 iPhone) news cycle so the only thing certain about them is that they cannot be confirmed. However, as we pointed out at this article's beginning, rumors of a larger-screened iPhone have been circulating for months.

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