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.
We're pretty sure about the guts of the next iPhone, but Apple has confused us at every turn about what their next device will actually look like.

In fact, all we really have to go by on what the next iPhone will look like is the evidence provided by supply chain checks, the internal evidence of the developer iOS 5 SDK and common sense.

Earlier this month, we predicted that the next iPhone would boast a dual-core A5 SoC, 1GB of DDR2 RAM, an 8 megapixel camera and up to 64GB of storage. It will work on both GSM and CDMA networks, but be limited to 3G speeds. That’s the same conclusion being echoed by 9to5Mac this morning in an excellent post by Mark Gurman.

We didn’t use rocket science to come to these conclusions: most of them are just common sense updates that Apple needs to make to keep the iPhone competitive in the market, coupled with a few improvements that are forecast by supply chain checks.

A notable sentence from Gurman’s post, however, is this one: “Because a report claimed that Apple is stuffing next-generation guts into iPhone 4 casings to throw off leaks, we don’t want to affirm that the new iPhone retains the iPhone 4 design. In addition, a new design has been rumored based on recent “iPhone 5″ case leaks.”

In other words, while he’s got a pretty good idea of what the next iPhone will be, he has no idea what it will actually look like. Same here!

Is this the design of the next iPhone? Even case makers aren't sure.

The fact that we don’t have a clue what the next iPhone looks like is surprising mostly because for the last few years, leaked Asian case designs have been the surest way to get an idea of a new Apple product’s design. For example, a month and a half before the iPad 2 debuted, we knew it had a slimmer, tapered design, and all the leaked cases agreed on the dimensions of the next iPad.

What about the case leaks ahead of the 2011 iPhone? Absolute chaos. You’ve got cases confirming a wider, thinner device with a larger screen and an elongated home button. You’ve got cases that suggest the next iPhone won’t have a new design at all. And then you’ve got a respected American case designer like Otterbox saying that they have no frickin’ idea what Apple’s going to release, or what it’ll be called.

The reason this confusion amongst case makers is so amazing is that it’s just so easy for a Chinese case maker to get the dimensions of the next iPhone by just hanging out in a bar outside of Shenzhen and bribing a Foxconn assembly line worker. In fact, that’s exactly how we’ve gotten the dimensions of Apple’s upcoming iPods, iPhones and iPads ahead of their official debut time and again over the past few years: the dimensions of an Apple device being built are the easiest thing to leak, since all you need to do is memorize a few numbers. In the past, workers will leak those numbers to local case makers, and over time, the “leaked” case designs will start to agree with each other, until there’s finally a consensus on what the next device will look like.

Apple's hidden the presents from the kids well this year.

So we’re a week away from the 2011 iPhone’s debut, and for the first time in years, Apple has managed to plug up all its leaks. Despite the fact that Apple lost an iPhone 5 prototype, they’ve managed to keep the actual details of the device secret. Apple has also managed to weld a huge titanium plate over the supply chain holes in their iron curtain of secrecy. In fact, Apple’s perfected secrecy around the next iPhone to such an extent that they’ve even managed to prevent low-paid Foxconn assembly line workers from leaking the dimensions of the device to their buddies.

Incredible. We don’t know how Apple has done it, but even though Cult of Mac lives by the breath of Apple rumors and leaks, we’ve just got to applaud Apple on a game exquisitely played: well done.

For the first time in recent memory, even us seasoned Apple journos are just fans again, as breathless and excited about what awaits us next week as a kid anticipating the mysteries of Christmas morning. Every year, we’ve combed the house, looking for where Papa Steve has hidden the presents until we eventually found them, but this year, he bested us. Instead, on October 4th, we’ll tear open the wrapping on a new Apple device not already knowing exactly what’s inside, or having to feign surprise… something that hasn’t happened for a long time.

It’s a wonderful feeling. We can’t wait to see what Apple has in store for us.

  • 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

    my best friend’s mom makes $77 an hour on the computer. she has been out of job for 9 months but last month her check was $7487 just working on the computer for a few hours. read about it and check “Online Income Solution” to get started , http://xub.me/te

  • 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?