updated 10:00 pm EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Rare part for 'phablet' iPhone emerges, but could be intended for knockoff
New photos allegedly from "deep within Apple's supply chain" have revealed what could be the backplate for the little-leaked 5.5-inch version of the "iPhone 6." The photos show the chassis of the larger "phablet" device next to the same part from the 4.7-inch version, suggesting that the models will be similar apart from sizing. It should be noted that these images could well be from Chinese knock-off devices based on rumored specs, such as the Android-based Goophone.
The recent availability of the Wico and Goophone copycat "clones" could explain the recent rash of parts photos that have leaked in the last week or so, though of course it could be equally possible that the images are of genuine iPhone 6 parts. While there has been no formal announcement, there is little doubt that counterfeiters will produce a 5.5-inch version of their current 4.7-inch clones, and this might explain the sudden appearance of parts. Up until now, very little that could be assumed to be plausibly genuine "phablet" iPhone parts have emerged, compared to at least credible 4.7-inch iPhone 6 part leaks.
There is little solid information about the alleged 5.5-inch model, but recent reports have claimed that it could use a 2,915mAh battery to help maintain the company's standards of power endurance despite the presence of a significantly larger screen. A few parts that are claimed to be for the 5.5-inch model have surfaced from dubious sources, but are rarely shown in context or some form of assembly to lend better credibility to the images.
Likewise, several photos that have been claimed show "fully assembled" 4.7-inch iPhones have been deemed suspicious by the lack of an active screen showing iOS 8 running on them. While the photos may be legitimate leaks, the availability of the Goophone casts suspicion on the authenticity of the images. Even if "fake," the presumed fidelity to the alleged Apple design and scale of the real-world parts may be useful in helping buyers judge what the "real thing" might end up looking like.
In the new photos, the shell of the larger iPhone looks to be identical in every way to the 4.7-inch version, even though other reports have alleged that the 5.5-inch model would see some design changes. Both shells have identical side-mounted sleep-wake buttons, rounded edges and recessed volume controls.
Apple has traditionally resisted going for larger-screened devices due to a desire to differentiate its phone by keeping it more useful with one-handed operation, but may have been persuaded to "go big" when Android buyers began citing the larger displays as an advantage over the iPhone. A recent study suggested that up to a third of Android phone buyers would consider switching if Apple made larger-screen iPhones.
Current rumor has Apple unveiling the next iPhone model or models at an event scheduled for September 9, with some reports claiming that both models will be introduced at that time, even if the larger of the two arrives later in stores than the more-solidly-confirmed 4.7-inch model.