Previous reports indicated that Apple would launch an iPhone 5S and an iPhone 6 during 2013. We've heard that rumor before actually, only it was in the shape of an iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 in 2011. Apple proved iOS know-it-alls wrong by merely releasing the iPhone 4S late that year and the oblong iPhone 5 on time in 2012. That said, Apple has yet to release two phones in one year… just two tablets.
Regardless, psychics tuned in to the fruity iPhone maker have changed their prediction, and declare that the iPhone 6 won't appear until 2014, leaving the rumored iPhone 5S to hog all the 2013 spotlight to itself. The supposed reason for the "delay" is based on problems with display yield and "substantial" other changes for the iPhone 6 form factor. This model will supposedly have an even larger display than the iPhone 5, putting it in a better position to compete with Android and Windows Phone 8-based phones.
"We think in-cell is having difficulty ramping to 4.8-inches, which is making Apple look at switching to on-cell (a different integrated touchscreen technology) and OLED (despite Apple’s suppliers being well behind Samsung in their OLED capabilities) or IGZO," said Jefferies analyst Peter Misek on Wednesday.
Sharp's IGZO display would be a good match for Apple because the technology doesn't rapidly suck the battery dry like typical smartphone screens. Instead of constantly refreshing images even when the screen is inactive, IGZO displays a static image until the user interacts with the screen. Reducing the amount of screen refreshes allows the display to stay on substantially longer while reducing the battery drain in the process.
In addition to the display, the iPhone 6 setback may be due to producing Apple's chip with 20-nm processing. "Apple’s current iPhone app processor is on 32-nm," Misek said. "For the iPhone 6 we think Apple will likely skip over 28-nm and go to 20-nm to facilitate adding more cores (4 or even 8). While TSMC is targeting a 2014 ramp in its 20-nm production we think that issues like double patterning could make it a more complicated transition than the 28nm ramp, which had its own substantial ramp and yield issues."
The iPhone 6 delay may also be related to a revamp of iOS so that the software will better utilize more cores. The company may also make a major upgrade to the way iOS interoperates with iCloud, gestures controls and advertising.
According to Misek's roadmap, the iPhone 5S and a possible low-cost iPhone (Mini) will be launched this June. The phones will be followed by the iPad 5, the iPad Mini 2 and the rumored iTV in September. The iPhone 6, which may feature a 4.8-inch screen, will be launched in June 2014.
Looking back, the rumored low-cost iPhone may be what was originally called the iPhone 4S: a cheaper, all-plastic device that shuns the glass screen and glass back plate with hard plastic, making it somewhat lighter in the process. Apple may be looking to enter the low-end smartphone market in emerging markets, and/or the pre-paid arena.