By Matt Burns
It’s time for your weekly dose of next-gen iPhone rumors. This edition is a doozy, friends. Purported iPhone components are leaking everywhere, with every site claiming to have the real deal. It’s hard to say which components are lifted straight from Foxconn’s lines, but when they’re viewed as a whole, these components paint an interesting picture that Apple (AAPL) is about to dramatically shift course and fully disrupt the cell phone market.
Apple is reportedly going to announce the next iPhone(s) either in September or October. Right now there are two competing rumors circulating: that Apple is working on a low-cost iPhone, likely the iPhone4S code-named N94, and a higher-end iPhone 5, known internally as the N97.
Just within the last week, a slew of claimed iPhone parts hit the web. Most are of similar design to the current iPhone 4 with a spot for a physical Home button and similar overall dimensions. Macpost and Engadget both posted the same set of “leaked” photos Monday morning, showing what most assume is the low-cost iPhone 4S. The parts are labeled N95 with the EVT1 (Engineering Verification Testing) date of 03-March-2011.
Several other leaks, including these early repair parts from ubreakifix.com, further support the claim that at least one upcoming iPhone model will be very similar to the current iPhone 4. Reuters furthered this claim last week when it announced Apple will soon release an 8GB iPhone 4. Even this chassis claimed to be for the iPhone 4S is very similar to the one used in the iPhone 4, except for a little tweak to the antenna and the lack of space for the home button.
So far, including talk of a Cloud iPhone, this seems to suggest that Apple is targeting the low end of the market with the next iPhone. But that just doesn’t feel right. Apple has so far stuck to a pretty tight two-year refresh cycle, which stated a major redesign was due last June. That never happened.
Then just yesterday, industry watchdog DigiTimes, citing upstream panel suppliers and contrary to previous rumors, reported the iPhone 5 will have an LCD smaller than 4 inches and feature a metal back panel rather than reinforced glass used in the iPhone 4 and leaked iPhone 4S parts. This source states that the internal components, including the single-core A4 chip, are likely to remain in play for this iPhone model. It’s not unheard of that Apple would out similar products aimed at different market segments and separated only by cosmetic differences. It is, however, without precedent that Apple would release two iPhone models at the same time. The iPhone 4S and iPhone 5, if they are both real, kills Apple’s legendary "Keep It Simple, Stupid" mantra, but officially signals war with lower-end Research in Motion (RIMM) BlackBerrys and Android devices.
Of course, this is all just silly speculation until Tim Cook, Jonathan Ive or whoever it may be takes the stage and officially announces the next iPhone -- or rather, iPhones. These leaks are hitting at an absurd rate, though. Apple might soon be dealing with the iPhone 4 fiasco all over again.