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iPhone 5 rumor rollup for the week ending May 4

The iOSsphere sees the world in a grain of sand, or at least, in obscure internal electronic components. The discerning eye can see the true implications of an unchanged SIM card tray design, for example.

You just need to have your own source, someone who knows details and shares them, whispering them in your ear or caressing a keyboard, who has access to mysterious Green Folders. This week, the sources stand up to be counted, all one of them: Goodbye to the wondrous Liquidmetal, to tear-drop designs, and hello to thinner bodies and bigger screens.

You read it here second.

"Our hopes of a liquid metal iPhone could very well be dashed."    -- Tyler Lee, Ubergizmo, on how a purported iPhone 5 SIM card tray reveals that the Next iPhone will probably be just like the current one.

iPhone 5 will be like the iPhone 4S because the SIM card tray is the same

And you can forget about that awesome Liquidmetal construction, too.

Replacement parts supplier SW-Box is considered by many to be a fount of reliable information about "leaked" parts, which is odd given they're offering parts that are a "perfect fit" for products that haven't been announced yet, let alone released.

In keeping with this heritage, the company recently posted a photo of the "iPhone 5 Sim Card Tray Holder Slot - Silver" and the iOSsphere illuminati were all over it, drawing the conclusions to which lesser mortals are oblivious.

Thus Ubergizmo's Tyler Lee glumly concluded that "our hopes of a liquid metal iPhone could very well be dashed."

Liquidmetal is the Wonder Metal that so many Next iPhone Fans are yearning for, because it promises a thinner and lighter and cool-feeling iPhone.

Lee clearly pored over the photo, with all the passionate intensity of a NSA analyst checking out satellite images of Osama bin Laden's last hiding place. "Based on its design, it is reminiscent of the iPhone 4/4S which seems to suggest that 2012's iPhone will not differ too greatly from the iPhone 4/4S' design," he concludes.

It's obvious, really. If an internal part that is only present in CDMA iPhones hasn't changed, how can anything else change? In particular you can kiss goodbye the longstanding rumor of a "teardrop" design, which would have one end of the phone thicker than the other.

Lee isn't completely credulous, of course. "However given that there are probably just as many fake Apple parts as there are real ones, until we actually see the device for ourselves we will be taking this with a grain of salt for now," he writes.

The only thing worse than all those fake Apple parts is the fact that Lee is only taking this with a single grain of salt instead of something approaching bulk-loading volumes

iPhone 5: longer, thinner, and un-teardropped

Thank heavens for well-sourced rumors. Otherwise we'd be stuck with all those badly sourced ones.

"We have some details to share," announces the generous Jeremy Horwitz at iLounge. And not just any details but details that "match and expand upon details we received back in March." And those March details were "suggesting that Apple is abandoning the long-rumored 'teardrop-shaped iPhone 5' in favor of another glass-bodied design," Horwitz reminds us

He gets right to it.

"What we've learned: the new iPhone will indeed be longer and thinner than the iPhone 4 and 4S." Wow! Not only that, he knows the actual dimensions. "Approximate measurements are 125mm by 58.5mm by 7.4mm -- a 10mm jump in height, nearly 2mm reduction in thickness, and virtually identical width," Horwitz reports.

Rollup isn't sure why 58.5mm is considered "approximate." Maybe they were eye-balling it in terms of inches and converting to the metric scale on the fly. In any case, the metric measures yield 4.92 x 2.30 x 0.29 inches. Approximately. The current approximate dimensions of the iPhone 4S are 4.5 x 2.31 x 0.37 inches. Apparently the one one-hundredth inch difference in width warrants describing it as "virtually identical."

But there's more: a "major change" in the rear casing. Apple will be "adding a metal panel to the central back of the new iPhone," Horwitz reveals. "This panel will be flat, not curved, and metal, not ceramic." So the metal panel on the back will be, you know, metal instead of ceramic. And flat. Approximately.

In case this is hard to visualize, iLounge went the extra mile to illustrate it. "Our artist's rendition provides a rough idea of what this change will look like; it echoes the current-generation iMac design, to be sure." To be sure it does, approximately, as you can see for yourself

"The change in height will include a lengthening of the prior 3.5" screen to roughly 4" on the diagonal," Horwitz continues, piling on those details. "As the new iPhone won't widen, this appears to confirm that Apple will change the new iPhone's aspect ratio for the first time since the original iPhone was introduced in 2007, adding additional pixels to the top and bottom of the screen. A change of this sort took place between the fourth and fifth generations of the iPod nano, but didn't impact any third-party software. This obviously will."

Yes it will. No question. If the aspect ratio actually did change. This issue has been debated for at least the last 12 months, and Horwitz doesn't add much to it, or elaborate on it, or bother to describe just what the impact would be.

The best recent treatment of this topic, in early April by a poster at The Verge, expands on an idea originally suggested by a caller to the weekly Vergecast: if Apple changes the iPhone aspect ratio from the current 4:3 to 9:5. The result would be a screen that's longer but not wider, moving from a 3.5-inch to a 4.0-inch diagonal, preserving the Retina Display pixel density, and offering more room for apps without requiring changes to the apps.

Horwitz also says the Next iPhone will have a new, smaller Dock Connector on the bottom of the phone.

Talk about a cornucopia of details. And they all come from "our source," explains Horwitz, doubtless with some proprietary pride. So, an unnamed somebody. Nothing "approximate" about that. And you don't have to keep repeating "according to an unnamed source." That might just introduce a worm of doubt in the trusting minds of readers.

This source insouciance clearly impresses the iOSsphere. At the iPhone 5 Rumor Blog, Michael Nace assures his readers that "The well-sourced iLounge has painted a new picture of what the iPhone 5 could look like, including its screen size, connectivity, and use of metal (maybe LiquidMetal?) on its back." He obviously hasn't caught up with the equally well-sourced blog post by Ubergizmo's Tyler Lee.

Nace is aware that iLounge is using a lone, single, unitary and unnamed, anonymous source. But "Jeremy Horwitz usually delivers the goods over there, so what he has to say is most definitely checking out." Delivering the goods apparently means repeating whatever "our source" tells us.

"Something Big" is about to happen

Speaking of iPhone 5 News Blog and "our source," Michael Nace has a new source and from her has created one of the most obscure iPhone 5 rumors ever posted

Here's the rumor: Something big is about to happen. If that doesn't send a thrill through you, you must in cryogenic stasis.

"A staffer at a top U.S. brokerage firm that handles Intel and Apple's ocean/air accounts has informed the iPhone 5 News Blog that 'something big is about to happen,'" Nace solemnly informs his readers. "The source provided me with the address and telephone number of where she works, and I was able to call and verify her employment at the brokerage firm."

The first confusion is "brokerage firm," which commonly refers to a company that buys and sells stock -- a stock brokerage. But it eventually dawns that Nace apparently means that this is some kind of ocean/air freight shipping brokerage -- a company that acts as an intermediary between a firm with products to ship and transport companies that actually move them.

Nace apparently first posted the story with the following headline: "UPS Source Says Documents Reveal 'Something Big Is About to Happen' With Apple." But he took it down after the UPS source expressed concern that she might, you know, suffer adverse consequences for blabbing to a blogger. So the re-posted story has the headline, "Source Says Documents Reveal ..."

"Our new source's job is to scan paperwork into the computer systems and verify them for customs and auditing. She also works in data entry, preparing documentation from big business such as Intel and Apple, whose shipments frequently come from overseas."

Translation: She's a clerk. Rumor blogs love to say "our source."

The source tells Nace: "Recently my team and I have been getting A LOT of protocol from Apple lately, and I can tell you there is something big getting ready to happen. Whether or not it's the iPhone I'm not at liberty to say, but the paperwork has definately [sic] beefed up, and I'm positive it's not MacBooks or iPads. Nothing has been flown out, but they are definately [sic] getting everything in order for customs and the FCC, I can tell you that."

Rollup knows nothing about how goods are imported to the U.S., but unfortunately for everyone, neither apparently does Nace, and his email exchange with his source didn't seem to help much. "The 'protocol' that the source is referring to is the routine in which a particular business runs and sets up its paperwork before going to audit or customs," he says.

The key thing, apparently, are the Green Folders. According to the clerk, "I recently came into contact with some green folders (means they go straight to Cupertino itself) with unidentified units, 14 of them to be exact, as I've said before I'm not at liberty to go into detail but if they're going to headquarters I can only believe that they might be testers."

What can this mean? Nace "asked her further about what 'green folders' and 'unidentified units' meant."

"By 'units' I mean the documentation for them. I handle no actual products -- just their documentation," she says. "Green and red folders are high level security clearance folders, instead of the usual manilla [sic] that are used. Green and red folders are faxed to Cupertino. They aren't shipping folders, but they contain the documentation of the shipments by Apple, such as emails from their coporate [sic] offices to the factory, invoices etc. ... we then get that ready to go to customs."

So the Green Folders are high-level security clearance folders that have documentation of shipments. Good to know.

Nace doesn't go overboard with all this. He keeps a sense of perspective. "Obviously, a claim like this is far from a smoking gun," he admits, even though at this point Rollup thinks it's fair to say everyone is still a bit unclear about what exactly is being claimed.

"[A]nd the sole compelling component of the rumor is the fact that I was able to verify the source's identity and position at her brokerage," Nace continues. This apparently means "I was able to discover she works at this company so that in itself makes the rumor compelling."

"Also, my ongoing discussions with her, and the ability to explain her job at the brokerage firm and the process by which companies like Apple ship documentation into and out of the country is viable," Nace adds. To say that either she or he has "explained" much at all strikes us a bit generous.

And yet, its more than enough for a rumor. "Whether or not this information is proof that the iPhone 5 and/or iTV is coming to the WWDC [Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference] in June, no one can tell," Nace concludes. "But after confirming the identity of the source, I thought it was something that people who follow iPhone 5 rumors would least want to read about."

Well, of course. Who wouldn't want to at least read about the speculation of a documents clerk ("I can only believe that they might be testers"), looking at high security paperwork with no product names, but only indecipherable code numbers, and with no time frame except "they are definately [sic] getting everything in order for customs"?

The real excitement here is having someone tell you, "I've got a secret." It's still exciting even if, after you've been told the secret, you still don't quite understand it.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww Email: [email protected] RSS feed: http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/2989/feed

Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section.


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