First photo of supposed ‘iPhone 6’ front panel surfaces!

An alleged photo of what appears to be a front panel from Apple’s larger-screen iPhone 6 has surfaced on Chinese microblogging site Weibo

The image appears to show an individual in a factory-type setting holding up an iPhone 5s next to a much larger front panel that contains similar characteristics, including cutouts for a front-facing camera, ambient light sensor, ear speaker, and home button. However, the front panel also features a notably thinner bezel, which is consistent with previous rumors about the iPhone 6’s slimmer design.

While the validity of the image cannot be confirmed, the leak is the latest among a number of others recently. This past weekend, several photos reportedly showed the details on manufacturing molds for the iPhone 6, which was followed by a photo yesterday that hinted at a 4.7-inch display.
Last month, Japanese magazine MacFan published alleged design drawings of what appeared to be 4.7-inch and 5.6-inch iPhone 6 models, with a photo showing cases for the larger iPhone surfacing shortly afterward.

Apple is expected to launch the iPhone 6 later this year, which may ship in two different sizes: 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches. Recent reports have indicated that the smaller 4.7 inch version will ship first in the fall, while the larger version may ship later this year or in early 2015 due to manufacturing challenges.

Along with a larger screen, both models of the next-generation iPhone are rumored to include a new A8 processor, Touch ID fingerprint sensor and an upgraded camera featuring optical image stabilization. A report yesterday from Jefferies analyst Peter Misek also stated that Apple is negotiating with wireless carriers to raise the price of the iPhone 6 by $100.

Apple Reportedly Trying 4.7- and 5.7-Inch Screens On iPhones Next Year, Cheaper Model Coming In Fall

Apple is looking at various changes to its iPhone lineup over the course of the next year, according to a new report from Reuters, including two sizes of larger smartphone devices, in both a 4.7-inch and 5.7-inch flavor. The “phablet” plans are also being considered alongside a less expensive iPhone model, which is slated to begin production next month, according to Reuters’ sources, after a brief delay as Apple attempts to get the colors right for the new plastic-backed device.

The cheaper iPhone would be launching in September following full production kicking off in August, according to some of Reuters’ sources, with an initial shipment target of around 20 million low-cost devices for the holiday quarter next year. The report details echo what we’ve heard from other sources recently, including from fairly accurate analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who previously shared reports of multi-color options for the cheaper iPhone, with a thin plastic case and the same 4-inch screen as the iPhone 5. Reuters adds that it should cost around $99 when it launches, and that its release timeline might be pushed back by as much of a year.

iphone5smockReports of the low-cost iPhone have been making the rounds in more or less reliable circles for a while now, which is the more interesting component of this new report. Other sources have reported that Apple is looking at bigger-screened devices, so-called “phablets” to compete with similar offerings from Android smartphone manufacturers, including the Galaxy Note line from Samsung. But even Apple’s flagship smartphone, the iPhone 5, lags behind most competing general-purpose non-phablet devices like the HTC One and Galaxy S4 in terms of screen size at 4-inches.

Apple’s big-screen iPhone plans are less evolved than those for its low cost device, the report claims, with one of Reuters’ sources suggesting that we could still see the plans shift considerably before anything reaches a production stage. Apple has discussed the idea with production partners, but has not set any kind of timeframe for test production or launch as of yet. Reuters says that Apple is considering the different screen sizes comes as there’s increased pressure to field more than one device a year.

Apple CEO Tim Cook suggested that we might see a larger iPhone when the trade-offs of battery life, screen quality, color reproduction and other failings brought about would be possible to counteract, speaking at the recent AllThingsD D11 conference. He did admit that some consumers are interested in those devices, however, so it’s likely that these reports come from Apple’s attempts to overcome those limitations with engineering. Plenty of Apple products don’t make it past the testing phase, however, so while you can be sure Apple is experimenting with big displays for iPhone, you can’t be equally sure we’ll ever see one. Still, Cook’s guidance to consumers and media that they can look for big product launches in the fall and through next year specifically do line up with the timing of possible iOS phablet launches reported by Reuters today.