The upcoming iPhone 6 has been incorporated into a new concept video by designer Sam Beckett, which was initially posted to The Verge forums. According to the dimensions Beckett provides, his "iPhone Air" concept includes a 4.7-inch display, a 1920 by 1080 resolution and 468 pixels per inch.
Beckett's concept is 8 percent larger than the iPhone 5s and 9 percent thinner. The slimmer profile is in line with previous iPhone 6 rumors, which have suggested Apple has improved its backlighting technology to allow for thinner devices.
The phone is only 8% larger than the existing iPhone 5S, this increase is to accommodate the larger screen. Some extra space could be potentially utilised by reducing the width of the side bezels and by also slimming down the top and bottom of the phone frame too. The depth of the iPhone Air is 7mm, coming in 0.6mm smaller than it's predecessor. This modest reduction in the device depth and larger increase in the width and height could help create a bigger space for the battery and other components.
Like several other iPhone 6 concepts, Beckett's design keeps the same general size and shape of the existing iPhone 5s while doing away with thick side bezels. The design incorporates thinner side bezels with a sapphire crystal display, both features the phone is rumored to include.
Beckett also draws on a number of other rumors for the video, suggesting the iPhone 6 will include a 10-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/1.8 and a faster A8 chip, which is reportedly already in production with TSMC.
As with any concept, it is unclear if these ideas and rumors will make it into the next-generation iPhone, but the video does imagine how a larger iPhone could possibly look. Apple is said to be developing two larger iPhones for release in 2014, one near 4.7 inches and one quite a bit larger at approximately 5.5 inches.
Monday March 10, 2014 7:47 am PDT by Kelly Hodgkins
After expanding to France last week, Apple's iPhone trade-in program is now available in Apple retail stores throughout Canada as noticed by 9to5Mac. Though not publicly announced, the launch was confirmed on Canadian Apple Store retail pages and in the Apple Store app.
The in-store recycling program allows customers to trade-in an older iPhone model and immediately receive a gift card up to $275 towards the purchase of a new iPhone. The program encourages customers to responsibly recycle their old iPhones instead of throwing them away. SellCell estimates customers are storing and not recycling approximately $13.4 billion in unused iPhones.
This in-store iPhone recycling program debuted in the U.S. last summer and was expanded to include the UK a few months later. Apple also offers a mail-in recycling program that requires customers to send in their iPhone before receiving a credit. Customers may receive more money for their iPhone via the mail-in program, but they lose the convenience of a no-hassle credit that's immediately available to spend on a new phone.
Wednesday March 5, 2014 7:43 am PST by Eric Slivka
Apple's new chip partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has begun production on the next-generation A8 chip destined for the iPhone 6 later this year, according to a report [Google Translate] from Taiwan's Commercial Timespicked up by AFP.
The world's leading contract microchip maker last month started producing the A8 chip, which is tipped to power the expected iPhone 6, the Commercial Times reported.
The report, which cited supply chain sources, said TSMC had won most of the manufacturing orders for logic and power management integrated chips for the new handset.
The report claims that the new 20-nanometer A8 will include a quad-core 64-bit processor and quad-core graphics, and that an earlier start to chip production compared to the previous years could give Apple the flexibility to comfortably launch the new iPhone in the third quarter of this year.
Samsung has been Apple's exclusive manufacturing partner for A-series chips, but Apple has long been reported to be trying to shift orders to TSMC. After years of rumors, Apple and TSMC reportedly struck a deal in mid-2013 to begin chip production in early 2014. TSMC and Samsung were initially reported to be splitting the production load for the A8, but Samsung is now said to have dropped out due to low yields.
Monday March 3, 2014 3:31 am PST by Richard Padilla
Apple has launched a new campaign for the iPhone 5c on popular social blogging platform Tumblr, reports9To5Mac. Featuring the tagline "Every color has a story", the campaign's page contains five videos each representing a different theme based on the combination of a certain iPhone 5c color and case. For instance, a video showing the yellow iPhone 5c and a black case displays a pattern mimicking concert lights, while another ad featuring the blue iPhone 5c and a white case imitates skaters on an ice rink.
The page also appears to be showing up as a "Sponsored Post" for a number of Tumblr users, indicating that Apple paid to promote its content on the network. The campaign itself is notable as Apple has traditionally remained off of social media aside from its official iTunes Facebook page and official App Store Twitter profile.
Apple revealed in its Q1 2014 earnings call that it saw lower-than-expected sales of the iPhone 5c due to high sales of the iPhone 5s, with other reports suggesting that the 5s was outselling the 5c by a two-to-one margin. Shortly after the phones were introduced, Apple scaled back iPhone 5c production while ramping up iPhone 5s production to meet customer demand.
Sunday March 2, 2014 10:42 pm PST by Richard Padilla
As indicated last week, Apple today announced its CarPlay iOS vehicle integration feature at the Geneva International Motor Show, which allows an iPhone to take over the in-dash display of a car, providing Siri voice controlled access to aspects such as navigation, phone functions, messages, and music.
Once a Lightning-enabled iPhone is connected, the feature can be summoned and controlled on compatible cars through Siri voice control, a touchscreen, and on-board buttons. From there, users are able to access various iOS apps such as Maps, Phone, Messages, Podcasts, and Music. Third party apps such as Beats Radio, iHeartRadio, Spotify, and Stitcher are also supported, with Apple promising compatibility with more apps soon.
CarPlay will be accessible this week with vehicles from manufacturers such as Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, while other manufacturers such as BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota will receive the update later.
“CarPlay has been designed from the ground up to provide drivers with an incredible experience using their iPhone in the car,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iPhone and iOS Product Marketing. “iPhone users always want their content at their fingertips and CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction. We have an amazing lineup of auto partners rolling out CarPlay, and we’re thrilled it will make its debut this week in Geneva.”
The feature was originally named iOS in the Car and was revealed last year at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). While Apple executives went on record to say that the functionality was "very important to the company" and is an essential "part of the ecosystem," reports earlier this year stated that CarPlay was plagued by development issues. However, a video of the feature surfaced last month, and showed support for multiple resolutions of external displays, touch input and hardware controls, and voice input.
CarPlay will be available as an update to iOS 7 and works with Lighting-enabled iPhones including the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5.
Friday February 28, 2014 1:19 pm PST by Jordan Golson
When asked about Apple's U.S. manufacturing efforts during a question-and-answer session with Apple shareholders today, CEO Tim Cook said the company's new sapphire production facility was for a "secret project" that he couldn't talk about, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
Cook did not give any more information, but did say separately that the company is working on "extensions of what we're already doing" and also "things you can't see". He reiterated that secrecy is important because Apple is "getting ripped off left, right and sideways" by competitors.
In response to a question about manufacturing in the U.S., Cook pointed to a plant a supplier recently opened in Arizona to produce sapphire exclusively for Apple. There’s been speculation that Apple may use the super-hard sapphire to produce scratch-resistant screens for future iPhones. Cook said the Arizona facility was a "secret project" that he couldn’t talk about.
But then, he said other Apple suppliers "already make" glass for iPhones in the U.S. An Apple spokeswoman declined additional comment.
Apple routinely denies having any particular new project in the works, so it's possible that a future iPhone model with an ultra-durable sapphire screen is the "secret project" to which Cook is referring, though there are a number of other possibilities for sapphire crystal including a potential smart watch product.
Cook previously confirmed that the plant would make sapphire, but the company has thus far refused to say anything more about it. He also said that investors should plan to hold Apple stock for the long term, saying to investors looking for a quick turnaround, "I encourage you not to invest in Apple."
Friday February 28, 2014 6:30 am PST by Kelly Hodgkins
Apple is preparing an update that will improve performance of the Touch ID sensor on its iPhone 5s handset, claims AppleInsider. Apple has tapped its AuthenTec team to eliminate "fade", a term coined to describe the increasingly erratic performance of the fingerprint sensor that is experienced by some iPhone 5s owners.
After launching iPhone 5s last fall, Apple has continued to work with the original AuthenTec team to improve its recognition software and will release an update relatively soon, the source confidently reported. However, AppleInsider could not verify whether the update will ship as part of iOS 7.1, which is expected to drop in mid-March.
Issues with Touch ID surfaced shortly after the iPhone 5s was introduced, with owners reporting an increasing number of failed scans shortly after they enter their fingerprints. Deleting and rescanning a fingerprint only temporarily fixes the issue.
iPhone 5s owners have devised creative homemade fixes that include scanning the same fingerprint five times and overtraining the sensor for improved accuracy, but these are workarounds that don't address the underlying problem.
Apple introduced Touch ID in the iPhone 5s and promoted the technology in an ad campaign that appeared in The New Yorker, Sports Illustrated and other print newspapers and magazines. Apple obtained the fingerprint scanning technology when it acquired AuthenTec in 2012.
Wednesday February 19, 2014 2:05 am PST by Richard Padilla
According to a new report from market research firm IDC (via The Wall Street Journal), Apple became China's fifth largest smartphone manufacturer during the fourth quarter of 2013, taking 7% of total market share in the country. Notably, the report does not include iPhone sales numbers from the region's largest carrier China Mobile, which began selling the iPhone through a partnership with Apple last month.
According to research firm IDC, Apple’s market share in mainland China rose to 7% in the quarter from 6% in the third quarter. The fourth quarter was the first full quarter after Apple launched its iPhone 5S and 5C in China in late September, on the same day the new phones came out in the U.S. and a host of other markets. In the past, iPhones went on sale in China months after they were launched in the U.S.
Apple is still behind other smartphone vendors in the country including Samsung, Lenovo, and Huawei, with those companies coming in at first, second, and fourth place, respectively. Apple also remained slightly ahead of newcomer Xiaomi, which notably hired former Google vice president of product management Hugo Barra in August 2013.
Apple has made strides towards improving its presence in China over the past few years, opening new Apple Stores in populated regions and establishing an official store on Chinese e-commerce site Tmall in addition to partnering with China Mobile. CEO Tim Cook has also visited the country numerous times throughout the past few years to meet with both China Mobile executives and government officials to discuss market growth.
Wednesday February 19, 2014 1:22 am PST by Richard Padilla
Apple is planning on introducing two new phones this year featuring displays of 4.7 and 5.6 inches, with the former using a traditional Gorilla Glass display and the latter featuring a sapphire screen, according to a new report from Taiwan's Economic Daily News [Google Translate] (via Mac Otakara). The report also states that due to its experimental nature, Apple's 5.6-inch phone will not be known as an iPhone.
While it is somewhat probable that Apple could release two versions of the iPhone as previously suggested by other reports, it is very unlikely that the company would drop the iPhone name for the larger phone given the iconic reputation of the brand.
The report adds that Apple's next-generation phones will once again be assembled at primary supplier Foxconn (also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.), with other suppliers including Cheng Uei Precision Industry and Simplo Technology also helping with production. Furthermore, the sapphire displays to be used in the 5.6-inch phone are said to come from new Apple partner GT Advanced, which was reported to be gearing up for massive production of devices with sapphire displays earlier this month.
Apple has been experimenting with a range of screen sizes for the next-generation iPhone since early 2013, with sizerumorsvarying from 4.7 to 5.7 inches. Last week, the South China Morning Poststated that the company would be launching two new iPhones with larger flat sapphire displays in September, while The Korea Herald reported that the iPhone 6 would adopt a "bezel-free" display.
In addition to a new display, other reports have indicated that the iPhone 6 will feature a slimmer profile due to thinner and lighter backlights and a 10-megapixel or higher camera with an improved filter. The iPhone 6 is generally expected to arrive in the same September-October timeframe seen in recent years.
Monday February 17, 2014 6:47 am PST by Kelly Hodgkins
Apple's first retail store in Brazil opened in Rio de Janeiro this weekend, with approximately 1,700 customers waiting in line for the grand opening (via The Globe]. Customers started queueing up on Thursday night for the Saturday morning debut, with groups waiting both inside and outside the Village Mall.
Photo from The Globe
The opening of the Rio de Janeiro store was announced last week on the company's website and is Apple's first store in Latin America. The store has a fairly unique single floor, pavilion-style design with a curved glass exterior. Unlike most other Apple retail stores, the Rio de Janeiro location features a split-concept layout where one half of the store is dedicated to product demonstrations while the other half is focused on accessory sales and services.
Speaking to Brazilian news site The Globe, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer confirmed that Brazil was an increasingly important market for Apple. The Rio de Janeiro store is part of a larger plan to tap into the Latin American market, which traditionally has been a weak market for Apple due to the high import taxes levied on electronic devices.
Apple will be selling its full product lineup in the Rio store, including the iPhone 5S starting at the equivalent of $1,174, with high taxes making it the most expensive Apple retail store for iPhone purchases (via Bloomberg).
Thursday February 13, 2014 8:00 am PST by Kelly Hodgkins
Almost half of the consumers who buy a new smartphone are storing their older phone instead of recycling it in the used handset market, according to the "Mobile Mountain Study" conducted by research group OnePoll for resale site SellCell (via MarketWatch). These unused phones are worth almost $47 billion, with older iPhone models accounting for approximately $13.4 billion of these hoarded phones.
Though many people are storing their iPhones, some owners are taking advantage of the iPhone's strong resale value by trading them in. A SellCell survey from January 2014 shows that the iPhone 4 and 4S are among the most traded-in cellphones in the US. The most lucrative Top Ten trade-in is the 16GB iPhone 5s, which sells for an average price of $325. The 5s is followed by the Samsung Galaxy S4 16GB at $213 and the iPhone 5 16GB at $211.
Source: SellCell.com; survey conducted in January 2014
Most people (40%) with an old phone sitting in their drawer keep the device as a spare, while others (36%) just don't know what to do with them. A small percentage (20%) give them away to friends or family or to charity (12%). A surprisingly high number of people are simply "too lazy" to recycle or trade-in their old phones (17%), while others have elected to simply throw theirs in the trash (9%).
The recycling of phones will become increasingly important as the smartphone market reaches its saturation point in the next few years. As customers switch from feature phones to smartphones, iPhone ownership is expected to increase to 68% by 2017 with customers acquiring phones from both new and used sources.
Wednesday February 12, 2014 2:03 pm PST by Juli Clover
A set of images depicting what could be a prototype of the next-generation iPhone were first shared with MacRumors by an anonymous Twitter user earlier today. Australian writer Sonny Dickson, who also shared some of the same images, told MacRumors that they were initially shared by someone in China who claimed the images show the "iPhone 6".
It is entirely unclear whether the device in the images is a legitimate iPhone 6 prototype or whether it is a fake. Early prototypes of the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c exhibited a blank rear shell while the iPhone 6 shell in the picture clearly shows FCC text that is generally added to the phone at a later date. There are also no plastic or glass cutouts for an antenna, something the current-generation iPod Touch -- which sports a similar aluminum-bodied design -- has next to its rear-facing camera.
We asked designer Federico Ciccarese to conduct some measurements based on the photos and he believes the iPhone in the images is 4.7 inches diagonally and 2.3 inches wide, the same width as the existing iPhone 5s.
iPhone 5s overlayed. iPhone 5s dimensions (mm) in red. iPhone 6 dimensions in blue.
iPhone 6 Dimensions: 2.3" x 5.1" with 4.7" Diagonal Screen
Rumors have suggested the iPhone 6 will be manufactured in multiple sizes, with rumors pegging one phone at approximately 4.7 inches and a second between 5.5 and 5.7 inches. The screen may also be bezel-free, similar to competing phones from companies like Samsung.
A report from earlier today indicated the iPhone 6 may be thinner and lighter than the existing iPhone 5s, thanks to advancements in LED backlighting technology. The device in the images is indeed thinner, taking on a curved-edge design much like the existing iPod touch, the iPad mini, and the iPad Air.
The iPhone 6 may also include a sapphire glass display, which is both thin and durable. It is also believed that the iPhone 6 will be equipped with the Touch ID fingerprint authentication system first introduced with the iPhone 5s.
Even if these images are fake, they give a good idea of what a larger screened iPhone 6 could look like. More images below.
Wednesday February 12, 2014 7:35 am PST by Eric Slivka
As Apple continues its quest to make its iOS devices thinner and lighter, the company will take advantage of advancements in LED backlighting technology to shift to thinner components for the iPhone 6 and upcoming iPad models, according to a report from LEDinside, a division of research firm TrendForce.
The report notes that a thinner design will see Apple shifting from 0.6 mm thick side-view LED backlights to 0.4 mm thick modules, but also questionably claims that the iPhone 6 will arrive in June. The iPhone 6 is generally expected to arrive in the same September-October timeframe seen in recent years.
According to sources from Apple supply chain, the iPhone 6 is likely to be released in June 2014, and will have larger monitor size of 4.7”. Industry insiders also projected the iPhone 6 will have a much lighter frame, which will lead to upgrades in LED backlight specs. In the previous generation, the iPhone used 0.6t side-view type LED, in contrast the new iPhone will probably be adopting 0.4t side-view type LED.
Apple has been rumored to be increasing display size for the iPhone 6, and while LEDinside's report only mentions a 4.7-inch model, a number of other claims have included an even larger model at 5.5-5.7 inches. Larger displays will undoubtedly lead to larger device bodies, but that extra height and width could give Apple more room to spread out components and reduce device thickness from the current 7.6 mm of the iPhone 5s, and thinner backlights could aid that goal in an industry where fractions of a millimeter count.
LEDinside claims that similar changes are coming for the iPad, particularly with a rumored 12-inch model. According to the report, new iPads will see their backlights shift to 0.6 mm thick modules from the current 0.8 mm components.
Wednesday February 12, 2014 3:00 am PST by Richard Padilla
Apple will reportedly release two versions of its next-generation iPhone featuring 4.7 and 5.5-inch sapphire screens in September, reports the South China Morning Post. Citing industry insiders who have "seen the prototypes," the publication also states that both phones will feature a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch (PPI) compared to the 326 PPI currently found on the displays of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.
Furthermore, the Hong Kong-based newspaper adds that the new devices will feature a flat screen instead of a curved screen as suggested by prior reports, and that Apple will be discontinuing the iPhone 5c in favor of an iPhone 5s made of lower-cost materials.
Apple has been experimenting with a range of screen sizes for the next-generation iPhone since early 2013, with sizerumorsvarying from 4.7 to 5.7 inches. The Korea Herald reported yesterday that the iPhone 6 would adopt a "bezel-free" display.
It was also reported last week that GT Advanced, the company that has partnered with Apple to open a plant in Mesa, Arizona, was gearing up to mass produce sapphire displays meant for the iPhone 6. While another report yesterday said that Apple's initial sapphire production would target the iWatch instead of the next-generation iPhone, the volume of raw material and equipment the company is purchasing would suggest plans to manufacture approximately 200 million 5-inch sapphire displays to meet iPhone demand.
Tuesday February 11, 2014 9:24 am PST by Juli Clover
Sony may provide Apple with image sensors for both the front and rear cameras in a future iPhone, according to a new report from Japanese business site Nikkei, which suggests that Apple and Sony are in negotiations that would double Sony's shipments to the Cupertino company in 2015.
The Japanese firm already supplies nearly all of the CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) sensors for the current iPhone models' rear-mounted main cameras. Apple is likely looking to switch to Sony sensors for the secondary camera on the screen side, used for taking self-portraits.
Sony recently purchased a new manufacturing plant, reportedly aimed at stepping up production in order to comply with Apple's request for more sensors. Sony will invest 35 billion yen in the facility, which will boost its monthly production capacity by 25 percent.
Since the iPhone 4s, Sony has supplied Apple with sensors for the iPhone's rear camera, while OmniVision has supplied the sensors for the front camera.
Historically, the iPhone's front camera has been of a significantly lower quality than its rear camera. For example, the rear camera in the iPhone 5s, which utilizes a sensor from Sony, is eight megapixels while the front camera is just 1.2 megapixels. While Apple has worked hard to improve the rear camera with each iteration of the iPhone, the front-facing camera has received little attention.
Sony, a camera manufacturer itself, is well-known for its impressive sensors and its work getting large, light-absorbing sensors into small cameras. Apple too has focused its efforts on improved sensors and low-light picture taking capabilities even as its competitors, like Nokia, aim to focus only on higher megapixels.
Apple has greatly improved its iPhone camera with each iteration, and the iPhone 5s, its best camera yet, utilizes a larger sensor with a lower aperture for higher quality low-light photos. It is likely that with Sony supplying sensors, the front-facing camera in a future iPhone could see some significant improvements as well.
It does not appear that the Sony-sourced front-facing camera sensors will make it into the iPhone 6 given the timeline specified in the article, and will instead be included in a future iPhone.
As for the iPhone 6, it remains unclear what camera improvements Apple may implement. While an initial rumor suggested the company would continue utilizing the 8-megapixel rear sensor in the iPhone 5s, a subsequent report pointed to a 10-megapixel or higher sensor for the rear-camera with an f/1.8 aperture and an improved lens filter.
Tuesday February 11, 2014 7:39 am PST by Eric Slivka
Apple's iPhone 6 will reportedly gain a "bezel-free" display when it launches later this year, according to a report from The Korea Herald focusing on both the next-generation iPhone and Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S5 smartphone.
Mockup of iPhone 5s compared to larger bezel-free 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 sizes
No significant details about Apple's plans for the iPhone 6 are shared in the report, with the majority of it focused on the Galaxy S5 and only a few sentences noting that Apple is working on a "similar" prototype with bezel-free display and fingerprint sensor. Samsung will reportedly be using a more standard fingerprint sensor than the display-wide fingerprint scanner or iris scanner that had previously been rumored for the device.
“Scanning fingerprints on the entire screen, which was much talked about recently, will be available in the latter half of this year as there are still technological hurdles to overcome,” [the source] added, hinting that the production yield for the full-screen fingerprint scanner is still far from satisfactory.
The source said that Samsung’s top rival Apple is also testing a similar prototype sporting a bezel-less screen that features a fingerprint scanner.
Last November, Bloomberg reported that the iPhone 6 was planned to feature a larger display with "glass that curves downward at the edges", perhaps alluding to a bezel-less design in which the edge of the device is formed by the display glass itself rather than a separate bezel. A report last month from The Wall Street Journal claimed that the iPhone 6 "won't include a curved display", but it is possible that both reports could be correct if the design were to include a flat display panel fused to glass (or sapphire) cover that curved at the edges.
Tuesday February 11, 2014 6:30 am PST by Kelly Hodgkins
Evidence has made clear that Apple is investing heavily in sapphire for its future products with the company working with partner GT Advanced Technologies to start production of the material in a new Arizona plant. Earlier reports suggested the sapphire is likely for the next-generation iPhone, but G 4 Games points to new reports from Asian supply chain sources speaking to MyDrivers [Google Translate] and PCPOP [Google Translate] claiming the iWatch will be the first Apple device to be equipped with the scratch-resistant material.
Furnaces for sapphire glass production
According to the reports, the biggest factor in using sapphire for the iWatch and not the next iPhone is cost, with the price of sapphire driving up the retail price tag of the iPhone. A price increase could be detrimental to Apple as the iPhone already has a premium price tag.
According to Chinese media sources (which are citing “Taiwan supply chain insiders”), Apple has put a lot of effort into fitting the next iPhone with a sapphire screen. These sources claim that “beta” iPhone units (read: some of the prototypes Apple is currently testing) are already sporting sapphire protected panels, but unfortunately, chances are that they will not make it on the final product.
The problem is not necessarily due to low yield (which still is a problem, at least until Apple’s [Arizona] plant will be fully operational), but mainly because fitting a sapphire screen on the next iPhone would make its price skyrocket.
Fortunately though, the same sources also say that Apple will manage to fit sapphire screens on the rumored iWatch. The smartwatch is said to feature a 2 inch panel, and evidently, the production costs would be much lower.
Though the iWatch would certainly benefit from a sapphire layer to protect its display, the volume of raw material and equipment Apple is purchasing hints at much bigger plans than a 2-inch watch display. Apple allegedly has ordered enough furnaces to manufacture approximately 200 million 5-inch sapphire displays, a volume which would meet the yearly demand for its iPhone product line. In 2013, Apple sold approximately 150 million iPhones worldwide.
Monday February 10, 2014 9:20 pm PST by Richard Padilla
Last month, a report from Digitimesstated that Apple supplier TSMC was preparing to begin production on fingerprint sensors for the iPhone 6, and was said to be moving to a larger 12-inch fab from the current 8-inch fab to increase production efficiency. However, Digitimes is now reporting that TSMC will once again be utilizing its 8-inch processing for the iPhone 6, as Apple has cited concerns with the yield rate of the 12-inch fab.
Apple previously decided to have TSMC produce fingerprint sensors for its next-generation iPhone at the foundry's 12-inch facilities using a 65nm process, the sources noted. However, acknowledging risks associated with 12-inch WLP technologies, Apple has finally chosen TSMC's 8-inch processing which enables mature yield rates for WLP to produce the fingerprint sensors, the sources said.
The report also notes that TSMC will continue to contract the packaging process other firms as a result of moving back to the 8-inch processing. Previously, TSMC was said to be handling the packaging process itself in order to centralize control over the component.
The Touch ID fingerprint sensor was said to be a key factor contributing to the limited supplies of the iPhone 5s at its launch last September, with low yield rates at packaging firm Xintec and iOS 7-sensor integration slowing production. However, with several of those issues ironed out and TSMC now able to utilize a refined process, launch supplies of the next-generation iPhone are likely to be more readily available.
Thursday February 6, 2014 12:14 pm PST by Juli Clover
GT Advanced, the company that has partnered with Apple to open a sapphire plant in Mesa Arizona, has purchased and received a total of 518 sapphire furnace and chamber systems with another 420 machines on order, according to analyst Matt Margolis (via 9to5Mac). The company has also purchased multiple "Sapphire Display Inspection Tools" from Intego.
The sheer amount of equipment purchased indicates that a massive sapphire production operation is being installed at the Arizona factory, and as rumors have hinted, the large amounts of sapphire being produced, along with the tools ordered, could hint at a future ultra-durable iPhone display.
Matt Margolis believes that with the current equipment the factory has, it could produce between 103 and 116 million displays per year, with an additional 84 to 94 million possible when taking into account the 420 furnaces on order. Apple could, in total, produce 100 to 200 million ~5-inch sapphire displays, enough for its entire line of devices. In 2013, Apple sold approximately 150 million iPhones.
In documentation, GT Advanced itself suggests the aforementioned Sapphire Inspection Tools are aimed at device displays.
Lowering manufacturing and fabrication costs of sapphire is a key driver for accelerating the adoption of its use in new market segments such as cover screens for smartphones and mobile devices. GT Advanced Technologies is working with key downstream technology providers to optimize fabrication processes and technologies to lower the cost of sapphire cover screen material.
GT is partnering with Intego GmbH to develop a series of automated sapphire inspection tools that will increase the yield of high quality sapphire material from each boule and ensure that only high quality material enters the value stream. The SIRIUS Slab automated sapphire inspection tool begins a new level of repeatability and performance throughput to the production of sapphire material intended for high volume markets such as mobile and touch screen devices.
In November, shortly after the partnership between GT Advanced and Apple was announced, it became clear that GT Advanced, with Apple's help, was aiming to drastically increase its sapphire production.
A recent patent pointed to Apple's interest in using sapphire as a display cover on future iPhones and shortly after, a report suggested Apple partner Foxconn had already began a small trial production of 100 devices with a sapphire display.
Those rumors, along with today's report, indicate that Apple is almost certainly aiming to use sapphire as a major component in an upcoming product such as the next-generation iPhone or the company's much-rumored iWatch. Currently, the company uses limited quantities of sapphire to protect the camera on recent iPhones and to cover the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5s.
Sapphire, as the second hardest mineral after diamond, is incredibly durable and scratch resistant, as can be seen in the video below. An iPhone with a sapphire display would be almost impossible to scratch in day-to-day use.
Thursday February 6, 2014 4:38 am PST by Kelly Hodgkins
Imagination Technologies today announced that it has extended its licensing agreement with Apple. The financial terms of the deal were not revealed, but Imagination confirmed the deal signed was a multi-year, multi-use agreement that provides Apple with access to the company's PowerVR graphics and video hardware.
Imagination Technologies Group plc (LSE: IMG, "Imagination") announces that Apple has extended its multi-year, multi-use license agreement, which gives Apple access to Imagination's wide range of current and future PowerVR graphics and video IP cores.
Under the terms of the above licensing arrangement, Imagination will receive on-going license fees, and royalty revenues on shipment of SoCs (Systems on Chip) incorporating Imagination's IP.
Imagination also recently announced its Series6XT PowerVR GPUs, which will replace the current Series6 graphics used in Apple's A7 chipset. In detail, the company claims that its newer GPU chips will deliver a 50% benchmark performance increase when compared to similar configurations of previous generation cores. The technology is expected to debut in devices sometime in 2015.
Apple has used Imagination's PowerVR graphics architecture in all of its iPhone models to this point, and is a major investor in the company with a 10% ownership stake.
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