Large-Screen iPhone 6 Emerges As The Leaks Suddenly Get Physical
The iPhone 6 will be just a little smaller than the just-released Samsung Galaxy S5, and virtually identical to the Nexus 5, but thinner. This is the conclusion of Toronto-based mobile device expert Lewis Hilsenteger of Unbox Therapy, based on a prototype of a case for the forthcoming iPhone 6 procured by the leak-o-sphere’s Australian prodigy, Sonny Dickson. In a video released yesterday (see end of this post), Hilsenteger does a Goldilocks comparison of a mockup of the iPhone 6 inside the leaked case and the current iPhone 5s (too small), the Galaxy Note 3 (too big) and the Nexus 5 (just right!)
What is significant about the video is that this case represents the first tangible physical evidence of what the form factor of the iPhone 6 will be. Dickson himself released some shadowy images of purported case backs covered in cling film back in February. The actual case backs of the iPhone 5s and 5c that Dickson obtained almost two months before those phones’ official reveal was the biggest clue to what those products turned out to be during the last iPhone cycle (which I covered extensively in these pages.) The latest Dickson photos from February were less convincing to me than the clearly detailed videos that showed hands rotating the 5s and 5c case backs had been. Why was the cling film not removed? Was it disguising a cheap 3d printed prototype? Why was the power button located so low?
The current leaked case, on the other hand, has more of the ring of truth. The dimensions are consistent with the 4.7 inch screen size that all of the rumors have converged on. As Hilsenteger points out in his comparison with the Nexus 5, this /4/be an ideal size for a smartphone at the intersection of screen size and one-handed use. From his hands-on it is clear that the volume and power buttons are located in ergonometric positions. The image below compares the February Dickson leak to yesterday’s case. The biggest difference is the position of the power button, which had seemed off in the earlier images.
About a ten days ago images appeared purporting to show manufacturing molds for the iPhone 6. These were again consistent with a 4.7 inch screen in the same HD video proportion as the current iPhone 5s and 5c that has been predicted by analysts based on supply chain rumors, most notably KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo. But where would the garish pink iPhone 6 case in the Unbox Therapy Video come from? A good bet would be the Hong Kong Electronics Fair (the Spring Edition of which was just held April 13-16.) This video from the Fair shows displays of iPhone 6 mockups, cases and accessories. The fact that the prototype is not from Apple does not discredit it as an accurate representation of of the next iPhone. The supply chain surrounding Apple is filled with companies seeking an edge by getting a jump on manufacturing accessories for upcoming products. Information about 3D geometry is much easier to leak out of Chinese factories than actual metal casings.
Anyone who has ever ordered an inexpensive iPhone case from eBay, however, will recognize that sometimes these early molds lead to cases that do not fit the new phone snugly when it actually materializes. This could certainly be the case with the case in Hilsenteger’s video, which was acquired by Dickson or one of his pickers, possibly in Hong Kong. But the other thing that I have learned by covering the Apple Fantasy Prototype League (#AFPL) is that once there is fairly reliable 3D geometry available, designers around the world begin to produce increasingly realistic “concepts” that accurately mirror what Apple is actually producing.
Beyond the geometry and rumors about components from the supply chain nothing is really required for these designers to forecast the future. This is because Apple has such consistent design practices that it is usually axiomatically clear to all concerned how Cupertino will solve a given problem. This leads critics to complain about how Apple does not provide sufficient surprise, but this predictability is one of the things consumers prize about the company. The gold iPhone 5s was a little glitzy for some and the 5c a little too pop for (many) others, but they both immediately felt like high-quality Apple products.
The image below is a still from the Unbox Therapy video showing the size comparison of the the 5s and the rumored 6. Just seeing the two devices in Hilsenteger’s hands makes it palpable that a larger iPhone will be the preferred device for many current Apple customers (and likely a share of Samsung’s) It is the unfortunate legacy of Steve Jobs’ preferences that Apple has really missed out on the natural design evolution of smartphone screen size. The rise of mobile video is a big part of that trend—and TV-savvy Samsung has capitalized on it—but larger screens are just more conducive to the transmission of all kinds of information. As I mentioned above, the 4.7 inch screen /4/be in the perfect sweet spot in this regard.
I am willing to predict that the case in the video above represents an inflection point in the progression from rumor to released product. From now on, the supply chain leaks will be increasingly tangible in the form of case backs, fronts and various internals. Concept designers will also be on overdrive cranking out artfully animated videos with tag lines that will likely be less accurate than the visuals.
The way the Apple product development process works is that there is a completely inaccessible internal process mirrored by a completely transparent prediction process fueled by accessory makers and traffic-hungry content providers. This external process is really analogous to a kind of machine learning routine where external data (supply chain leaks and educated guesses by analysts, bloggers and designers) inform a model based on previous behavior (past Apple product cycles.) As we get closer to the official Tim Cook reveal of the iPhone 6, that model will correlate with the future reality to higher and higher degrees. During the last cycle, Apple watchers (myself included) knew virtually everything before Tim Cook took the stage.
One outstanding question, beyond the caveat that the latest leak could be based on imprecise geometry, is what Apple’s role is in the leak process. Certainly the company seems to be using the Wall Street Journal occasionally as a semi-official mouthpiece for rumors that have not always turned out to be true. Could Sonny Dickson himself be a reliable vector for Apple to telegraph the direction it wants the leak-o-sphere to take? Maybe Apple wants us to not be disappointed more than it wants us to be surprised? I have queried Dickson about the origin of the pink iPhone 6 case in the Unbox Therapy video but have not heard back yet. Irrespective of its provenance, there are multiple factors reinforcing the consensus of the learning model at this point. So let’s call the iPhone 6 at a 4.7 inch screen and 7 mm thick compared to the Samsung Galaxy S5′s 5.1 inch screen at 8.1 mm, and expect mounting evidence to congregate around these specifications in the weeks and months ahead.
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— iPhone_NewsFeed 23 weeks 2 days ago.
— iPhone_NewsFeed 23 weeks 2 days ago.
— tugemelier16 21 sec ago.
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