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iPhone rumor rollup for the week ending May 9

John Cox | May 12, 2014
The iOSphere was rocked by iPhone 6 Sticker Shock, at about 10+ on the Richter scale, when one "report" this week predicted that the Next iPhone will cover its 5.44-inch display with a synthetic sapphire sheet that will boost the phone's unlocked price to $1,285.

The iOSphere was rocked by iPhone 6 Sticker Shock, at about 10+ on the Richter scale, when one "report" this week predicted that the Next iPhone will cover its 5.44-inch display with a synthetic sapphire sheet that will boost the phone's unlocked price to $1,285.

Also this week, how anonymous rumors that iPhone 6 will ship in "third quarter" are translated into "August" and "September," leaving July inconsolable. And the iPhone 6 fingerprint sensors are now shipping which means ... well, it's not clear what that means but it's an iPhone Fact.

You read it here second.

iPhone 6 with 5.44-inch sapphire screen will cost $1,285

Talk about a bummer. And even if you could afford it, Apple is only going to build 10 million of them over the phone's life-cycle of two to three years, so the chance of you actually finding one are remote, given that Apple currently is selling roughly 180 million iPhones yearly based on sales over the last two quarters.

This rumor originated on the Chinese Weibo site, though the link posted by various Western sites leads to a page that now seems to be unavailable for translation.

G for Games was one of the first to trumpet the, frankly, unbelievable "news," with the headline "5.44-inch iPhone 6: 10 Mil. Units Life-cycle; Sapphire Pretty Damn Expensive (Rumor)."

"The latest rumors now suggest that the larger iPhone 6 will in fact pack a 5.44 inch display, and that, due to the high production costs, the smartphone might be produced in smaller quantities," wrote Mihai Matei, apparently without pausing to wonder about the feasibility of expanding the iPhone brand by selling fewer phones.

"These latest reports suggest that the sapphire screen costs around 1743 yuan (or $280), which would raise the final cost of the device to about 8000 yuan (or $1,285) at least in China," writes Mihai Matei. "At the moment, the 16 GB iPhone 5S costs 5288 yuan in China ($850), whereas the beefier 64 GB variant is retailed at the price of 6888 yuan (or $1106)."

The $280 price tag for the sapphire cover seems preposterous.

The current Corning Gorilla Glass cover for today's 4-inch iPhone models is estimated by a materials analyst at one market research firm to be $3 per sheet, which would make the (admittedly much larger) 5.44-inch sapphire cover nearly 100 times more expensive. At that rate, you're treating sapphire as a gemstone, not an industrial material.

Perhaps the best sapphire screen estimates have been developed by Yole Development, a market research firm headquartered in Lyon, France, as Network World reported in the recent "How Apple's billion dollar sapphire bet will pay off." 

 

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