Curved Glass iPhone Coming — In 2012; What To Expect Next Week
Last May we linked to a DigiTimes report by Yenting Chen and Steve Shen noting that handheld device cover glass suppliers were reluctant to invest in the necessary glass cutting equipment due to high capital cost, Consequently, Apple itself had reportedly purchased 200-300 glass cutting machines to be used by glass makers, storing them at associated assembly plants to be brought into production service once yield rates for curved glass reached a satisfactory level.
Chen is still following the story, in a new report with colleague Joy Wan at the Taiwanese industry-watcher site that curved cover glass may be “the next big thing” in handset form factors, with both Apple the non-Apple vendors reportedly gearing up to release of products with curved touchscreens in the first half 2012, according to the site’s customary unnamed industry sources.
Chen and Wan note that non-Apple device makers are busily tooling up for products with curved cover glass in hope of gaining competitive traction against Apple’s dominance of the handheld world.
However, their moles are telling them that Apple has also bought glass-polishing equipment for its several OEM cover glass suppliers suppliers to prepare for production of devices fitted with curved cover glass, noting that Corning demonstrated curved applications of its Gorilla glass at Taiwan’s Computex 2011.
However, the reporters’ sources also suggest that curved cover glass could turn out to be be a short-lived fad. In any event, it doesn’t look like curved cover glass is on deck as a form factor innovation in the fall 2011 iPhone.
So what will be announced, possibly as soon as next Tuesday?
Sounding remarkably certain about his prognostications, 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman has posted a detailed rundown of what he contends we can expect next week.
According to Gurman, citing “a source familiar with the SOC’s manufacturing,” inside the new iPhone will be a dual-core A5 processor, better gaming support and radically improved graphics, 1GB of RAM, an 8 megapixel camera capable of taking “incredibly high-resolution and clear shots, even in low light conditions because it has a backlit sensor,” perhaps a panorama photography feature as well, Qualcomm Gobi Baseband “worldphone” chips that support both GSM and CDMA networks. Gurman says he can’t yet confirm or deny rumors of a virtual SIM card system or NFC chip yet.
However, Gurman says the new iPhone’s biggest selling point may not turn out to be its hardware spec. at all, but rather a software feature called Assistant — a Siri-inspired, system-wide voice navigation system that that won’t be supported in iOS 5 on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS due to a minimum of an A5 CPU and more RAM than those models pack.
[UPDATE: A reader reports being assured by an Apple Store genius who when asked if the 3GS would be "fully compatible" with iOS 5, affirmed that it would, so throw that into the mix. Personally, having a lot of experience using voice recognition software since back in the days of discrete dictation apps that obliged you to talk like this, I'm skeptical that the iOS 4 and 3 GS with their relatively puny single-core CPUs and stingy RAM support will have enough muscle to run voice recognition satisfactorily, even if they do technically support it, but we'll have to see. CM]
Defect in Wintek-Made Touch Panels May Slow Initial iPhone 5 Shipments
Also from Digitimes’ Yenting Chen, this time with Adam Hwang, is a report that a defect that’s been detected some iPhone 5 touchscreens produced by Wintek may affect the OEM supplier’s ability to meet initial shipment targets for the expected October launch citing sources in Apple’s iPhone supply chain.
Contacted by the reporters, Wintek indicated that all of its products are being delivered on schedule.
The defect, described as a “delayed bubble”, of a sort that Chen and Hwang say sources told them is difficult to avoid during panel production, particularly when the defect is not detected during the lamination process, but discovered during assembly. They also note that since the manufacturing process of touch panels used in iPhone 5 screens is of the same as that for the iPhone 4, Wintek is expected to remedy the defect quickly.
In any event, this should constitute a relatively minor hiccup since Wintek reportedly accounts for only 20-25% of total iPhone 5 touch panel production, with Taiwan-based TPK Holding accounting for a lion’s share 60-65%, and Chimei Innolux supplying the rest.