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iPhone 6 rumor rollup for the week ending Aug. 8

John Cox | Aug. 11, 2014
It may be that the world will end Sept. 9, or at least the World-as-we-know-it-without-the-iPhone-6. That's The Date the new iPhone(s) will be announced, according to one unsourced declaration.

The faster clock speed "will create noticeably faster response time and graphics rendering in the new phones, the source says." Really insightful, that, though it overlooks more important issues: optimizing performance while minimizing power demand. Assuming that the A8 actually will have a higher clock speed, Apple is most likely achieving that by first reducing its power consumption and heat output.

Eric Slivka, MacRumors, posting about another website's post with photos purporting to be of the rear aluminum casing for a 4.7-inch iPhone 6, with an "embedded Apple logo" made of a "very extraordinary" metal that the other website speculates could be the wonderful and mysterious Liquidmetal alloy.

Another "new detail," according to Sullivan, is that the iPhone 6 will have faster Wi-Fi, with an 802.11ac chip from Broadcom. But that's been speculated for some time. The real question is whether, assuming the new iPhones indeed are larger, they will have dual antennas (or some kind of antenna sharing technology) to support for two Wi-Fi spatial streams. Broadcom's 2x2 11ac chip for smartphones, the BCM4354m was announced in Feb. 2014. It is currently used in the Samsung Galaxy S5 phone and several other mobile devices not so far publicly disclosed. In benchmark tests by AnandTech, the S5 linking to an 11ac router achieved data transfer rates of 436Mbps; the iPhone 5s, using 802.11n, maxed out at about 101Mbps. Perhaps the real benefit to higher Wi-Fi throughput is that the phone's network interface can go "back to sleep" much faster, reducing demand on the battery.

Sullivan's post claims that "Apple is said to have been working on its own Wi-Fi chip, using a team of engineers that it hired away from Texas Instruments, but our source believes Apple hasn't been able to get the kind of range and performance from its own chips that it needs." The Rollup is skeptical: taking control of the Wi-Fi network interface doesn't seem to offer any of the big benefits that Apple reaped in taking control of its processor design.

Finally, Sullivan claims that iPhone 6 will use Qualcomm's MDM9x35, cellular modem, which adds support for Category 6 LTE, with a higher data rate of 300Mbps; and that Apple plans to incorporate a near field communication (NFC) chip, from NXP, to support mobile payment applications. The former is rather more plausible than the latter, though a large-format iPhone 6 would be able to accommodate both the NFC chip and the fairly substantial coil of copper wire needed for its antenna. But NFC, at least in the U.S., is far from being a widely accepted means for mobile payments; and Apple's existing iBeacon specification, using Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy in conjunction with Wi-Fi and cellular, seems a very viable alternative.


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