Okay, Apple, You Win! Why Journos Don’t Know Jack About What iPhone Will Be Announced Next Week


What kind of iPhone will Apple announce next week? Beats us: Apple's gone to unprecedented and incredible lengths to keep the next iPhone secret.
What kind of iPhone will Apple announce next week? Beats us: Apple's gone to unprecedented and incredible lengths to keep the next iPhone secret.

AllThingsD says that Apple will announced the next iPhone on October 4th, next Thursday, at a small venue at its own Cupertino HQ. Since All Things D’s “source” is almost definitely Apple itself, that date and venue seems pretty solid.

It’s about the only report about the next iPhone that feels solid. What else do we know for sure about the next iPhone? Pretty much bupkis for sure. Apple has gone to unprecedented and incredible lengths to keep the exact details of the next iPhone secret. It’s the first time Apple journalists have truly felt left in the dark for a long time.

This is just one possibility of what the next iPhone could look like

Will the next iPhone be a significant update, or just a speed bump? We’ve heard about the iPhone 5, a faster iPhone with a thinner, tapered design, but even there, no one can agree if the iPhone 5 will have a bigger display or not, a capacitive home button or not, if it will be released this year or in 2012.

We’ve also heard about the iPhone 4S, an upgraded version of the iPhone 4 with Apple’s faster A5 processor, but that’s all anyone can say for sure: no one seems sure if the iPhone 4S will be a world phone capable of running on GSM and CDMA networks at the same time, if it will be Apple’s new premier smartphone or if it will be aimed at budget and prepaid markets, or what.

We don’t know which iPhone Apple will unveil next week. It could be the iPhone 4S. It could be the iPhone 5. Heck, it even could be both.

Ask most people who cover Apple for a living what Cupertino’s got up its sleeves for next week, and most of them will scratch their heads. “Beats me.”

Call it Steve Jobs’ revenge. For the first time in recent memory, no one outside of Apple really knows what to expect when Tim Cook takes the stage next week.

Almost every major new Apple product of the last couple years has leaked ahead of time, but not the 2011 iPhone.

Apple’s secrecy about its upcoming products is notorious, of course, but even so, the last few years have seen a bumper crop of leaks and credible, sourced rumors hit the Internet weeks and even months before Apple has unveiled its latest and greatest.

The iPhone 4, of course, was obtained by Gizmodo a good two months before Apple officially announced it. The iPad? Engadget got pictures of it weeks before Steve Jobs first showed off his baby tablet. The new iPod nano? Leaked in July ahead of a September debut. The new MacBook Air? Again, leaked weeks ahead of time.

These are just the biggest examples. For the past couple of years, Apple journos have had a headstart of at least a week or two on every major and minor Apple product unveiling. In some cases, like the iPhone 4 or the MacBook Air, we’ve known just about everything there is to know about the gadget before Steve Jobs has announced it. In other cases, like the iPad, we’ve been able to piece together a complete look at the device based upon a few hasty cam shots and the consensus of rumor.

Now let’s consider the next iPhone. It’s been 16 months since Apple debuted the iPhone 4, but in all that time, we haven’t seen one credible picture of the device itself leak. This despite the fact that Apple incredibly lost one in a San Francisco tequila joint, the second time something like this has happened in two years. But while the first iPhone Apple lost in a bar was plastered all over gadget blogs less than a week later, Apple has managed to keep the details surrounding the return of the iPhone 4S/iPhone 5 prototype so secret that even the San Francisco Police — who actually assisted with the case — have had to launch an internal investigation to figure out what their role in the case actually was, and why there’s no documentation about how they helped Apple on file.

Amazing. But even more amazing is how Apple has closed up the leaks in its supply chain.

Rewind a year and a half ago and you’ll discover that Apple had a leak the size of an entire country in its iron curtain of product secrecy. For months, Apple sites were getting complete looks at Apple’s new products weeks and months before they were officially unveiled thanks to explosive product leaks in Vietnam. But since last year, Apple has apparently welded all the cracks shut: despite the fact that tens of thousands of Foxconn assembly workers have been building the next iPhone for the last couple months, we’ve yet to get a credible look at the device itself. Not a single blurry cam pic.

  • Incorrect Date

    October 4 is a Tuesday

  • tiresius

       And yet, Cult of Mac continues to print virtually every RUMOR that is floated about the iPhone.  What are we to make to that?  Sharing the news, or spreading the gossip?

  • prof_peabody

    A good reason the design hasn’t leaked might the because it looks the same as this year’s model from the outside.  Given history, one would expect that this year’s model *would* look the same as last years also.  All the odds are in favour of it no matter how you slice and dice the rumours. 

  • freighttrain2126

    even more amazing is that if invites for an event don’t start going out soon, people will be scratching their heads even more about a release date, October 4th is only a week away! Lets just hope it lives up to the hype.

  • Bunnytrifecta

    Ummm, if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, looks like a duck…then it must be a spec-bumped iPhone 4!

    How else to explain a lack of leaks to support a newly redesigned model — either physically new or supply chain related? If it looks exactly the same, who the heck would know for sure what’s under the hood?

    Seriously, not even a company like Apple could keep a secret this big from prying eyes. My 2 cents.

  • randall

    You guys seriously need a proof-reader…

  • BrendenB

    You have to wonder whether or not the date, October “4”, contains a hint as to what will be announced. If it was October “5” I might have gotten excited.

  • MacRat

    Proof reading is for professional sites.

  • Ed_Kel

    Thanks for the article.. Bout time we see a journalist admit to the fact that nobody has a clue what’s next…

    Coupled with the icon found in Photostream, I think the case design above is the closest thing we have to what the next iPhone will look like.

  • Ed_Kel

    Then how would you explain the iPhone icon in photostream? Given history, Apple doesn’t make mistakes with their icons..

  • FriarNurgle

    Good article. Pretty soon Apple will be like Willy Wonka.

  • LeCorsaire

    The reason there is no leak yet is there will be no new iPhone this year.  That would be the ultimate prank Apple pulls off. Imagine the blogs and media go nuts when they find this out. :)

  • JohnMinez54

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  • Malcolm

    Hehe, the word is “proofreading” guys… and proofreader. One word. 

  • Tash Wahid

    Foxconn employees are low paid according to our standard but perhaps not according to the regions standard. If thats the case maybe they dont want to lose their “good, well paid” jobs either.

  • Cold_dead_fingers

    I have to say, I’m incredibly excited. The article is right. It really doesn’t matter it an A5 is stuck inside an iPhone 4 case or the entire design gets an overhaul, the iPhone being unveiled is almost a complete mystery. Crazy.

  • Anon

    small announcement venue + small number of leaks = iPhone 4s speedbump release.

  • Ciclismo

    And it’s also my brothers birthday. Three guesses what he wants for his birthday.

  • IP5 speculator

    I think you are missing the point behind the 4S, assuming that is the name of the low-cost phone. It isn’t going to have upgraded features, but downgraded features, (8GB memory), and possibly a redesigned antenna.  The point is to offer a low-cost phone in emerging markets, where price is a prohibitive hurdle.  It could also fill a niche here.  The 5 will have the upgraded capabilities, I believe.  Two new phones, but one is a reworked 4, and the other is a new design. The only real questions in my mind are the screen of the 5, and what they call it. The journos, and speculators like me, are having problems because they are confusing the two phones.  Just because the 4S is reworked and cheaper doesn’t mean it isn’t a new phone.  It is new, but not from the standpoint of upgrades.  I think both will sell extremely well. Remember that if the phone is slightly larger it can still have a noticeable bump in resolution and size by increasing the screen to body ratio. 

  • Figurative

    Foxconn workers are not “low-paid”.  In fact, they are very well paid compared to other jobs in the area.

  • Brian

    So basically, the point of this two page article is we’re not sure what the next iPhone is going to look like.

  • Guestface

    well written article, thank you!

  • Threeamigos

    Brenden, if people can preorder on the 5th, doesn’t a 4th announcement make sense? Come see us on the 5th….

  • Matt Ralston

    Well done, Apple!

    I always feel a bit sorry for for them when their thunder gets stolen before each grand unveiling. It seems to me that Apple take great delight in surprising everyone when the release a new product and as most of their products are pretty good I think they deserve their fun.

  • Matt Ralston

    Blackberry Playbook?

  • Chris Killen

    So…Santa isn’t real? 

  • imajoebob

    What I make OF that is that CoM is delivering the info the readers want.  I guess you think the “Cult” part is meant to be ironic?

  • imajoebob

    Is he going to be 4 or 5?  Maybe there’s a clue in that!  What’s his birth order?  Favourite number?  There are people who NEED to know!

  • Anonymous

    Teaser? Future model (beyond this year)? A prank? A prototype that was ultimately rejected? There are plenty of possibilities.

  • Edralin Orbeta

    I cant believe I read this two page article! But I have to thank John for writing a worth reading Article =D

  • Mike

    Now this is a good article. Well done Mr Brownlee, I’ve critisized your writing before, but this is a well written an considered piece. More like this please!

  • Rajiv Randev

    3d screen without glasses.  Take pictures and video and playback in 3d.  You heard it here!  Lol, just playing, but that’s pretty much the only thing that would make me go, omg holy crap I must have this now and will go in line 3 days before launch because I must have it.

  • Andrew Shipman

    Except I think that October 4th is next Tuesday not Thursday?