Over the weekend, a rumor from overseas claimed that Apple will announce a 4.8-inch iPhone “Math” alongside a 4-inch iPhone 5S. But it didn’t stop there; the same sources also said that a third iPhone model with a 12-megapixel camera is set to debut “before Christmas” this year. Sounds farfetched, to say the least.
What seems like a good bet for Apple’s 2013 iPhone plans is the prospect of a less expensive model geared towards emerging markets like China. According to a new rumor today, Apple is readying two 4-inch iPhones for 2013 with in-cell display technology. But what about the iPhone Math?
“Apple is planning the release of two iPhones in 2013 that are likely to be sized 4-inch and feature in-cell technology,” according to DigiTimes. “Previously it was said that Apple would release a lower-cost version of its iPhone with a bigger screen in 2013. But the sources claimed that Apple is indeed developing an iPhone with a bigger screen, but that will not be among the models to be launched this year.”
One model will be aimed towards the “midrange market segment,” which sounds like the less expensive iPhone previously rumored by The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and DigiTimes itself.
If Apple did release a cheaper iPhone, it would probably only do so if it could manufacture them in bulk, but it’s not entirely clear Apple has the capacity right now for another iPhone model.
For the iPhone 5, in-cell displays have been causing production holdups in the supply chain overseas, and it is “yet to be determined if Apple will have adequate supply of in-cell touch panels in 2013 for a lower-cost version of the iPhone.” In-cell was causing significant production constraints back in September 2012 with the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5’s thinness is partly achieved by the adoption of in-cell displays.So if Apple doesn’t think it can source enough in-cell iPhones this year, it will probably wait.
The rest of the iPhone rumor mill is still a convoluted mess. For example, DigiTimes doesn’t address the math behind the 4.8-inch iPhone in its report today. There are also no specific screen or pixel dimensions mentioned for the two other iPhone models mentioned. Those are important details, because Apple has historically resisted changing the pixel density of its displays, even when making the screen physically larger. The reason Apple maintains the same pixel density is because it makes it easier for developers to predict what their apps will look like on multiple iOS devices, and therefore prevents platform fragmentation. If you don’t mention pixel density, any story about a change in iPhone display size simply can’t be taken seriously.
As is usually the case, DigiTimes‘ report is full of vague language.These rumors aren’t being pulled out of thin air, but they lack context. Apple prototypes futuristic iPhones all the time, and that could very well be the reason behind this rumor too. (It’s happened before.)
You can expect Apple to release at least one new iPhone this year, and based on history, it will probably be something incremental like the iPhone 4S. A cheaper iPhone also sounds probable at this point, but there are still no credible reports on what form a cheaper iPhone would take.