A new report coming out of Taiwan Wednesday confirms previous rumors about Apple’s upcoming iPhone 6, but calls into question if Apple is developing a new line of devices to bridge the gap between the iPhone and the iPad. First, it confirms several highly rumored items. The report confirms that Apple is producing two new devices, presumably two new versions of the iPhone 6, one with a 4.7-inch screen and another with a 5.6-inch screen; in previous reports the larger screen size has been reported as being 5.5 inches.
Second, the glass is confirmed to be sapphire crystal for the larger of the two devices, but this report states that the smaller device will use Gorilla Glass instead of the higher-end sapphire. Apple recently started manufacturing sapphire glass in a plant in Mesa, Ariz. But reports have been conflicting on whether the new American-made sapphire will be used for the iPhone line or the impending iWatch, Apple’s first wearable tech.
The report states that the move to sapphire screens is due to the substrate's apparent hardness, which would reduce scratches and wear on iPhones. Sapphire is a 9.0 on the Mohs Hardness scale; traditional glass is a 7 and Gorilla Glass falls closer to sapphire. But sapphire is six to seven times more expensive to produce than Corning’s Gorilla Glass. This lends itself to the more expensive sapphire being held to the larger 5.6 inch screened device, perhaps as a premium.
The report also states that both new devices will be released in the third quarter of 2014, which is in line with Apple’s previous release schedule. The latest iPhone offerings, the iPhone 5s and 5c, were both launched in September of last year. The move to fall launches came with the release of the iPhone 4 and is better positioned for the holiday season.
The biggest departure from other rumors is that the 5.6-screen device may not be an iPhone, instead falling under an experimental name. Perhaps Apple is looking to offer a competitor to the larger phablets that have been taking market share aware from Apple’s number one device. But this should be viewed skeptically, as 9to5mac reports. Apple doesn’t need to dilute its line of offerings by adding a newly named device when the iPhone is so applicable. That is, of course, if these rumors are true.