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iPhone 6 rumor rollup for the week ending Aug. 22

John Cox | Aug. 25, 2014
iPhone 6 rumors swarmed as iOSpherians count down the days and hours until the expected, but not confirmed, Sept. 9 announcement. Panic ensues.

First, GT Advanced Technologies is not producing sapphire covers.' The Mesa, Ariz., plant where it installed and runs, for Apple, its sapphire growth furnaces is producing fat cylinders of raw synthetic sapphire that get shipped to other Apple suppliers in Asia for cutting and finishing, and presumably assembly.

It's still unclear how much sapphire the plant is producing. GTAT CEO Tom Gutierrez, in the early August Q2-earnings call said: "The build-out of our Arizona facility, which has involved taking a 1.4 million square foot facility from a shell to a functional structure and the installation of over 1 million square feet of sapphire growth and fabrication equipment, is nearly complete and we are commencing the transition to volume production. We do not expect to reach full operational efficiency in Arizona until early 2015."

Digitimes Research interprets this to mean that "GTAT started sapphire production in August....[and] these conditions signal that GTAT's sapphire production will not reach a large scale by the end of 2014."

Adding to the confusion, MacRumors' Richard Padilla interprets the Digitimes interpretation as follows: "A yield of only 1.35 to 2.25 million sapphire glass covers for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 would likely mean that Apple would delay the launch of the larger device until next year or release it in extremely limited quantities."

Padilla's one sentence is a mare's nest of unfounded assumptions. It's impossible to determine, with our current lack of knowledge, to know if sapphire production in Arizona is behind schedule; or whether the Asian partners are running into problems creating the finished sapphire sheets; or whether the yield is below plan; or whether the rumored 5.5-inch iPhone is actually being delayed, or was previously delayed, or was intended for 2015 release all along.

Digitimes Research also says that the "cost for a 5.5-inch screen cover made from sapphire is estimated at US$100," which is more than 10 times the estimated cost of a Corning Gorilla Glass cover and would make the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 not only a premium brand but a luxury brand.

Bottom line: we still don't know if the new iPhone, or iPhones, will have sapphire covers in 2014.

iPhone 6 will have NFC chip, again, and probably some RAM

A new "schematic" from a Chinese repair firm, GeekBar, purports to show, yet again, that Apple will incorporate a near field communications (NFC) wireless chip (and let's not forget: an antenna for it) in iPhone 6.

AppleInsider, bless their little cotton socks, aptly calls the schematic (shown here in all its unintelligible glory) "questionable."

"Chinese repair firm "GeekBar" shared a picture of the schematic on Monday via the social media site Weibo," according to the AppleInsider post. "It purports to show that a PN65V near-field communications chip from Semiconductors will be included on the iPhone 6.'"


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