Several rumors surrounding Apple’s next-generation iPhone handsets tend to resurface each year, and the imminent launch of an entry-level “iPhone nano” is one that we have seen regularly since Apple first launched the iPhone in 2007. China Times is among the first to bring purported news of a low-cost iPhone in the works this year, citing unnamed sources within Apple’s supply chain with its report. Apple is looking to expand expand its position in the low-end smartphone market according to China Times, and its $375 iPhone 3GS is too pricey to compete with entry-level Android smartphones. As such, the company is planning to launch a new low-end model later this year, possibly at or around the same time the sixth-generation flagship iPhone hits the market. More likely is the possibility that Apple will retool a current iPhone model in an effort to cut costs, but as we have learned in the past — and as we may soon see again with the possible introduction of an “iPad mini” later this year — the “iPhone nano” is rumor until it’s not. More →
Rumors of an iPhone nano are almost as old as the iPhone itself: the first such mumblings began in 2008. Now, Patently Apple suggests that Apple definitely was once, or still is, considering a smaller version of the iPhone. The patent in question shows a device with multiple inputs and hardware buttons or LED lights that would allow a user to interact with the phone. Given the touchscreen technology used in today’s iOS devices, we suspect this patent from 2006 would no longer reflect what an “iPhone nano” might look like. In any case, it is arguable that Apple does not need to create an “iPhone nano” now that it sells a $50 iPhone 4 and a free-on-contract iPhone 3GS. The patent was just one of 20 recently published patents that were granted to Apple. More →
As sure as The Wall Street Journal’s sources were that Apple was cooking up a miniature iPhone for release in the near future is as sure The New York Times seems to be that the iPhone nano’s future isn’t very near. The Times says Apple is indeed pondering a cheaper iPhone model, but it won’t be any smaller in size. The report does not delve deeply into how Apple might make a less expensive iPhone model, though it does suggest Apple might opt for cheaper internal parts such as a lower-quality camera and smaller memory modules. Apple is currently focused on finishing its next-generation iPhone, however, which will launch this summer. The device will be approximately the same size as the iPhone 4, the report states, and it may offer more robust voice controls. The Times also says Apple will soon expand its MobileMe services and make them free for iPhone users, which jibes with earlier reports. More →
An Apple patent uncovered on Thursday describes new technology Apple is experimenting with in an effort to increase the battery life in its device lines. The patent filing, entitled Increasing Energy Density in Rechargeable Lithium Battery Cells, describes a unique multi-pronged approach to the problem of poor battery life in consumer electronics. Apple is investigating the use of a new “multi-step constant-current constant-voltage (CC-CV) charging technique,” which would increase the volumetric and gravimetric energy density of energy-storing material within a battery. According to the filing, this would increase the capacity of a battery without impacting battery size or charge time. Relative to competitive products, Apple’s mobile device and laptop lines are often praised for exhibiting impressive battery life. There can never be enough time in between charges, however, and as more features and better displays are added to future devices, manufacturers will always struggle to ensure battery life is not overly degraded as a result. More →
The recent resurgence of “iPhone nano” rumors has Wall Street analysts working overtime. They already love Apple, which has basically been printing money lately, and rumors of Cupertino cooking up a smaller, cheaper iPhone could certainly send Apple’s mobile profits even further skyward. In fact, one analyst thinks a cheap version of Apple’s iOS-powered smartphone could expand its addressable market by a whopping 600%, therefore potentially giving iPhone profits a 250% boost. Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi thinks Apple needs either needs a cheaper iPhone or more carrier agreements in order to increase its smartphone market share — a notion that borders on the obvious. The former option, a cheaper iPhone, could be achieved by building a smaller phone with a smaller display panel. But Sacconaghi loses us entirely when he pitches another possibility that Apple might address new customers by offering an iPhone that doesn’t require a data plan. Apple has more muscle than any other cell phone maker right now, no doubt, but carriers would never sell an iPhone that didn’t help them reel in the dough on precious data plans. More →
According to an unconfirmed report originating in the Korea Economic Daily newspaper, Apple will become Samsung’s largest customer in 2011. Citing anonymous industry sources, the report states that Apple is poised to spend $7.8 billion on parts from Samsung, which is one of the largest component suppliers in the world. Apple is known to have parts contracts in place with Samsung, but this staggering sum would make the Cupertino-based company Samsung’s single largest customer this year. The report states that liquid crystal displays, mobile application processors and NAND flash memory chips are among the parts Samsung has been contracted to supply for Apple. Apple and Samsung are also rivals in the mobile space, of course, with Apple’s iPhone and iPad competing directly with Samsung’s mobile phone and tablet lines. More →
Ok people, you know the drill. Standard disclaimer here: patents may give us some preliminary details about a future product but companies — especially Apple — will patent anything and everything so don’t be too surprised if much of this patent never materializes. The biggest takeaway is likely the simple fact that Apple is indeed working on an iPhone nano in some capacity, as we’ve expected for quite a while now. That said, a reported patent unearthed this morning may shed some light on Apple’s preliminary designs where the elusive iPhone nano is concerned. According to the details revealed in the patent, Apple may in fact be considering a device that puts a new spin on touch interfaces by moving the touch surface to the back of the device. The front of the handset would be comprised entirely of a display and the back would be a “force-sensitive touch based surface”. Sounds… Interesting. The concept of controls on the rear of a device is nothing new but it has yet to reach the market in any significant way because, well, it’s counter-intuitive. Unless this design manifests itself with a front-facing touchscreen as well (for typing, etc) the safe bet is on this iteration of the iPhone nano never leaving Apple’s lab. Hit the jump for more images.
Amongst all the financial details being discussed during Apple’s first quarter 2009 earnings conference call, acting CEO Tim Cook fielded questions on iPhone pricing, the netbook market and Apple’s ability to sustain its leadership in a crowded mobile phone market. First and foremost, Cook dismissed the idea of a low cost iPhone nano by stating,
“You know us, we’re not going to play in the low-end voice phone business. That’s not who we are. That’s not why we’re here. We’ll let somebody do that, our goal is not to be the unit share leader in the phone industry. It is to build the best phone.”
So it looks like those iPhone nano rumors could be just that, rumors – though some of his comments were certainly open to interpretation. Cook was also questioned about the future possibility of a Mac netbook. When asked about the sub-$500 netbook market, Cook responded,
“We’re watching that space, but right now from our point of view, the products in there are principally based on hardware that’s much less powerful than we think customers want, software technology that is not good, cramped keyboards, small displays. We don’t think people will be pleased with those products. It’s a category we watch, we’ve got some ideas here, but right now we think the products are inferior and will not provide an experience to customers they’re happy with.”
Those are some scathing comments about netbooks so we can apparently assume that a Mac netbook is definitely not in the works. Last but not least, Cook was asked about Apple’s ability to remain the market leader with the iPhone in light of increased competition from Android, Windows Mobile and the Palm Pre. Hit the jump to see what Apple has to say about its competition.
Vaja, a reputable case manufacturer known for high quality leather cases, has added an entry for the iPhone nano to its site. A round of rumors that started months ago and resurfaced recently when XSKN added iPhone nano cases to its site, several case manufacturers now have entries for the new shrunken Apple handset that doesn’t yet exist. A listing from XSKN is one thing but when a company like Vaja adds the iPhone nano to its site, you have to wonder if the handset’s release isn’t closer than we might think. iPhone fan blog iPhone Alley now states that an inside source is feeding them info pointing to an announcement at Macworld. While we’re skeptical at best with regards to this report – the blog states that its source reports the iPhone nano will “probably not include 3G” – a Macworld announcement is seeming more and more like a viable possibility. With the show only a week away at this point, at least we won’t have long to wait.
[Via iPhone Alley]
So much for I’m sorry. It looks like XSKN is making no apologies for putting up iPhone nano case entries on its site as we discovered recently. Instead, the rogue retailer is now offering cases for sale. XSKN’s site is now littered with images of its iPhone nano case in a variety of color combinations and each is available for sale. Yup, $25 – $27 plus shipping will land you one of these cute new cases for a handset that many speculate will never exist. Sure, this is hardly solid evidence that we’re going to see the iPhone nano emerge any time soon and it is entirely possible that XSKN is allergic to repeat business and is just hoping to scam a handful of users out of a few pennies. On the flip side of the coin however, we might just be looking at a pretty good representation of a new Apple handset coming in the not-so-distant future. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – the question isn’t if Apple will hit the $100 price mark with a future handset, the question is when.
As much as everyone’s knee jerk reaction is to discount info like this, a brief pass over recent history tells us we probably shouldn’t be too quick to discount case manufacturers when it comes to leaking products. The iPhone 3G, second generation iPod Touch and even the current iPod nano model each had its form spied ahead of schedule as a result of leaks from case manufacturers – and now it might be the iPhone nano’s turn. This time around we’re not seeing any new imagery or mock-ups as we have in the past (though another manufacturer did leak an iPhone nano case mock-up earlier this year), but the simple “iPhone nano” entry on XSKN’s website could prove to be very telling. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or even an analyst to tell you that Apple will eventually be issuing a handset on the cheap to corner yet another market segment, but it looks like that could happen sooner rather than later. No, don’t expect it to happen at Macworld as you can be sure Stevo will be there to soak up the attention. At the same time, Apple has the goods when it comes to marketing, positioning and taking advantage of just about any situation. As the economy continues to hamper consumer spending, don’t surprised if we see Cupertino hit the competition where it hurts and enter the $100 and maybe even sub-$100 price ranges during the coming year.