Apple Reportedly Weighing $400 Price Range for Upcoming Wearable Device

iwatch_concept_ifoyucouldseeIn the latest of a string a reports regarding Apple’s plans for its upcoming wearable device, Re/code reports company executives have “discussed” a rough price of $400 for the device. That is merely a range, however, with cheaper models perhaps also in the works.

Apple executives have discussed charging around $400 for the company’s new wearable device.

Pricing has yet to be finalized for the forthcoming product, which is expected to begin shipping next year. Sources say consumers should expect a range of prices for different models including lower priced versions.

The report indicates that it is unclear whether Apple will have the pricing issue settled in time for its September 9 media event where it will reportedly show off the device, popularly referred to as the iWatch. If not, the company would remain silent on pricing for the time being and announce it a later date closer to launch, which may not occur until early next year.

Rumors regarding the wearable device have been inconsistent over time, making it unclear where on the spectrum of health and fitness band to true smart watch it will fall. Apple may, however, have altered its announcement schedule in order to better position the device as an iPhone accessory rather than as a standalone product.

(Image: iWatch concept from ifyoucouldseethefuture.com)




4.7-Inch iPhone 6 Built From Parts Supports Theory of 1334 x 750 Display

Yesterday, we shared a video and some photos from Feld & Volk [Instagram page] apparently showing a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 built from parts actually booting to the “Connect to iTunes” recovery mode screen.

A Tweet today from developer Steven Troughton-Smith points out that the graphics shown on the display during this booting process “*seem* to confirm” John Gruber’s arguments in favor of the device being equipped with a 1334 x 750 display at the same 326 pixels per inch density of previous Retina displays. More specifically, the evidence points toward an approximately 667 x 375 point display, which would presumably arrive in the form of a 2x Retina display at 1334 x 750 as Gruber suggests.

Sparked by Troughton-Smith’s observation, we have independently examined photos of the booting device provided to us by Feld & Volk and come to the same conclusion.

iPhone 6 (left) and iPhone 5s (right) shown booting to recovery mode. Letterboxing on iPhone 6 visible below Lightning cable.
The method relies on the fact that the “Connect to iTunes” image does not completely fill the display on the iPhone 6, with the Lightning cable ending above the bottom edge of the screen whereas on current iPhones it extends all the way to the edge. Assuming this “letterboxing” is due to the image not being optimized for the larger iPhone 6 display, it would correspond to the image filling an area equivalent to a 4-inch screen centered on the device’s 4.7-inch display.

This would account for the margin of black seen between the cable and the bottom of the display, and measuring the ratio of the space (plus a presumed equal one at the top) to the overall display size should yield an approximation of how much larger the viewable area is in points on the iPhone 6.

4.7-inch iPhone 6 display showing apparent letterboxed areas (red) with image optimized for 4-inch display (blue)
(Click for larger)

By our calculations, the border areas not covered by the image together suggest that the iPhone 6 display carries approximately 17.5% more points in the vertical dimension than a current 4-inch display. This would move the current 568-point height of the iPhone 6 (1136 pixels at 2x Retina) to 667 points (1334 pixels assuming 2x Retina) on the iPhone 6.

Assuming the aspect ratio of the screen remains the same as in the iPhone 5s, which by all indications it does, this would mean a 667 x 375 point (1334 x 750 pixels Retina) display for the iPhone 6. Performing the calculation in the horizontal dimension is more difficult due to nature of the recovery mode image, with no portion of the visible graphics extending to the side edge of the overall image to determine how much letterboxing space is on the sides.

Some observers have questioned the legitimacy of the video given the unfamiliar gear icon at initial startup and the blue iTunes logo that does not match the new red logo used on iOS 8, but Troughton-Smith notes the device is likely simply running Apple’s BurnIn tool rather than full iOS 7 or 8.

This analysis obviously addresses only the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 that Feld & Volk has acquired parts for. Gruber suggests the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 will likely contain a 2208 x 1242 display at a sharper 3x factor than the current 2x Retina. As pointed out by developer James Thomson and 9to5Mac, the current iOS 8 beta is indeed showing some behavior indicating a preference for displaying 3x images when available.




4.7-Inch iPhone 6 Logic Board Equipped With Qualcomm’s MDM9625 LTE Modem

Amid all of the leaks today based on photos and videos from luxury modified iPhone vendor Feld & Volk [Instagram page], one additional point worth mentioning is the device’s LTE modem. While photos posted to reveal the existence of an NFC chip from NXP has seen identifying marks on many of the other components blurred, a portion of the text printed on the LTE modem is visible, confirming the board does indeed contain Qualcomm’s MDM9625M as had been previously rumored.

iphone_6_board_mdm9625MDM9625M boxed in red
The MDM9625 is a Category 4 LTE modem, supporting speeds of up to 150 Mbps, compared to the MDM9615 Category 3 modem at up to 100 Mbps, which is found in the iPhone 5s, 5c, and 5. Some observers had been holding out hope that Apple might use Qualcomm’s even faster MDM9635 Category 6 modem as is reportedly lined up for Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Alpha handset, but with Apple’s history of conservatism in choosing its cellular technology and questions about production ramp-up for the MDM9635 make it unsurprising that Apple has opted for the MDM9625.

iphone_6_board_wtrLikely WTR1625L boxed in red and WFR1620 boxed in blue
Part of the speed benefits of the MDM9625 and new LTE-Advanced technology compared to earlier generations of modems comes from the use of carrier aggregation to combine channels for greater bandwidth. With the MDM9625, this carrier aggregation requires a pair of companion chips, a WTR1625L transceiver chip and a WFR1620 chip. These chips appear to be located on the opposite of the iPhone 6 logic board from the LTE modem itself.

On the whole, the use of the MDM9625 in the iPhone 6 sets the stage for faster cellular data connectivity as networks are built out to support its capabilities, and Apple will likely tout some of these improvements during its media event scheduled for September 9.

(Thanks, chrmjenkins!)




A8 Chip From 4.7-Inch iPhone 6 Appears to Carry 1 GB of RAM

Last week, a wiring schematic said to be for the iPhone 6 was initially interpreted to be referring to the device’s RAM, showing the same 1 GB of memory for the A8 as found in the current A7 chip. That was quickly determined to be an incorrect interpretation of component being shown in the schematic, however, and Apple’s plans for RAM in the iPhone 6 have remained uncertain.

A new photo leak from Feld & Volk [Instagram page] and Sonny Dickson showing an assembled logic board from the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 has revealed a number of pieces of information already, and it appears from one of the photos that the A8 chip on the board does indeed include 1 GB of LPDDR3 RAM.

iphone_6_a8_ram
As pointed out by MacRumors forum member commander.data, a silk-screened part number on the A8 reveals that the package-on-package contains Hynix RAM. Based on Hynix’s part number format, the character in the eighth position reveals the amount of RAM in the package, with an “8″ denoting 8 Gb (1 GB) and a “B” denoting 16 Gb (2 GB). While it is a bit difficult to read the part number clearly given the distance and angle in the photo, our staff and several posters in our forum agree that the character very much appears to be an “8″, indicating 1 GB of RAM.




Inside Apple’s PR Practices, From Media Control to Attitude Shift Under Tim Cook

In a lengthy 9 part exposé, 9to5Mac‘s Mark Gurman delves into the inner workings of Apple’s PR team. While much of what Gurman covers is already fairly well known, his coverage provides an expansive look at the way Apple’s PR team operates, from its organizational structure to its efforts to control Apple’s perception through media manipulation.

Despite Apple’s size and its position as one of the most profitable companies in the world, its PR team is relatively small, comprised of approximately 30 employees in Cupertino along with a few dozen scattered around the world. In Cupertino, Apple PR is divided into seven teams: Momentum, Mac, Corporate Communications, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, and Events.

Along with organizing events and controlling product placement, Apple’s PR teams keep a close eye on the media, despite its apparent indifference, and take steps to correct negative perceptions when deemed necessary.

So it’s a surprise that Apple actually isn’t that detached from the media: it’s more like a teenage girl obsessively keeping her fingers on the pulse of coverage. Members of Apple PR seek tabloid photos of celebrities holding iPhones, while others read Apple-focused blogs actively, and keep tabs on prominent Apple beat writers using anonymized social media accounts. [...]

This oversight is so important to Apple that a few times a week, top executives are sent a document detailing the company’s latest press coverage. When Apple is not pleased with coverage, it sometimes works to shift the narrative, even attempting to undermine giant news organizations.

For example, Gurman claims that Apple recently attempted to discredit Reuters over a story about Apple’s accessibility practices that the company was not happy with. Gurman also points Apple’s penchant for discrediting competitors, pointing towards an email Apple PR sent to 9to5Mac on an anti-Android story.

applepremail
Along with giving tidbits of information to various reliable media outlets, Apple also gives review units and review guides to columnists and journalists who Gurman claims have a largely positive view of the company and its products.

Also likely contributing to which publications get early access to products is the nature of pre-coverage — angles taken by writers during the product rumors cycle. As Brian Lam put it, “Apple can already tell what a review is going to say from [a publication's] pre-coverage, and they’re not going to give you a review unit if you’re not going to play ball.” In other words, Apple feeds the writers who will do its bidding, and starves the ones who won’t follow its messaging.

In addition to delving into details about Apple’s apparent media manipulation, Gurman also covers the shift in attitude as the company has transitioned from Steve Jobs’ leadership to Tim Cook’s. This has included the retirement of Katie Cotton, who was reportedly seen as a “tyrant” by her employees. Cotton, who was close to Steve Jobs, apparently did not mesh well with Tim Cook’s desire to portray Apple as a “friendlier” company, leading to her departure.

Apple is said to be searching for a new head of PR to replace Cotton, and in the meantime, Apple’s PR teams are run by two longtime employees who report directly to Cook. Under Cook, Apple’s internal policies have shifted somewhat, from his direct apology for the Apple Maps app to his efforts to discredit Yukari Iwatani Kane’s anti-Apple narrative Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs.

Gurman’s full examination of Apple’s PR team is well worth a read and covers a large range of topics. A list of links to the 9-part series is below:

Apple Events and Shredded White Booklets
Introducing the Teams: How PR is Organized at 3 Infinite Loop
Strategies: The “Art of Deep Background” and Controlling the Press
The Departure of a “Tyrant”
Two Heads in Place of One
Controversies: From Maps to Beats to Haunted Empires
Product Reviews, Briefings, & Reviewer’s Guides
Steve Jobs and the Process Behind Press Releases
A Friendlier, More Transparent Future?




iPhone 6 Built From Parts Apparently Shown Booting to ‘Connect to iTunes’ Screen

Following its leak of photos showing the iPhone 6 logic board that have revealed the device’s NFC chip and 16 GB of storage, luxury modified iPhone vendor Feld & Volk [Instagram page] has now shared some photos and a video showing the device in operation and booting to a black screen requesting the user to connect the device to iTunes.

Feld & Volk says it has been able to piece together this iPhone from various components it has obtained as part of its effort to build its own luxury version of the iPhone 6 for its customers, and remarkably enough, the device is at least capable of turning on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
While it seems surprising that a functional iPhone 6 could be built from individual components, Feld & Volk has demonstrated that it has been able to get its hands on rare parts, and thus it is possible they may have acquired everything necessary to build the device.




4.7-Inch iPhone 6 Logic Board Shown With 16 GB Flash Storage

Over the past several months, there have been a few rumors of Apple increasing storage capacities for the iPhone 6, perhaps doing away the 16 GB option at the low end and introducing a 128 GB model at the high end, at least for one of the two rumored models.

A set of schematics leaked in pieces over the past week and a half has included reference to various 16, 64, and 128 GB flash storage modules from several vendors for the iPhone 6, although it is unclear why there is no 32 GB option included on that list.

iphone_6_nand_flash
A new set of photos from Feld & Volk [Instagram page] and Sonny Dickson today that revealed the NFC chip present on the logic board of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 also offers a good look at the flash storage module on this board. Based on the Toshiba part number, as seen on similar modules, the “7″ indicates that this is a 16 GB module, suggesting the low-end iPhone 6 will continue to offer that amount of storage.

There are a few caveats, however, such as the possibility of this being a prototype or testing board using a 16 GB module not intended as a production option. Also, being a board for the 4.7-inch model, it is not yet known whether the rumored larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 model will offer the same capacity options as the smaller model.




NFC Chip From NXP Confirmed for iPhone 6

With rumors claiming the iPhone 6 will include a near field communications (NFC) chip from NXP to potentially support a mobile payments initiative from Apple flying in recent days, the existence of the chip now appears to have been confirmed. Luxury modified iPhone vendor Feld & Volk [Instagram page], which has shared a number of claimed parts from the iPhone 6 in recent weeks, has now gotten its hands on a complete logic board for the device.

iphone_5s_6_logic_boardsiPhone 5s logic board (left) and 4.7-inch iPhone 6 logic board (right)
The firm has shared a few photos of the logic board with Sonny Dickson, revealing the board’s NFC chip from NXP.

iphone_6_nfc_board

Apple has confirmed that it will be holding a media event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino on September 9, and the company is naturally expected to introduce the iPhone 6 at the event with a launch coming shortly after. Apple is also said to be showing off its wearable device, commonly referred to as the iWatch, although it is unclear when that device will be available for sale.