Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to This Week In Apple Rumors, our regular look back at all of the week's unconfirmed gossip, questionably sourced reports and blatant speculation about future Apple products from around the Web! Let's take a look back at what the various Apple blogs and websites were excited about in the past week, from Feb. 23-March 1. Check out our previous edition of Apple rumors here, and for all the latest you can follow me on Twitter right here.
1. Yet Another Analyst Predicts The Next iPhone Will Debut In August/September 2013
iPhone shoppers wondering when the next model will be arriving: It's looking a little more likely that yo' Christmas will be coming early, as yet another analyst has predicted some heavenly light in August for Apple fans.
Welcome back to This Week In Apple Rumors, where we're cramming nonsensical Faulkner puns into the first sentence and transcribing yet another prediction that the next-generation iPhone -- the iPhone 5S, we'd guess -- will be appearing in August or September (or about a year after the introduction of the iPhone 5, on September 12).
This time around, it's Barclays analyst Kirk Yang that's landed on our radar, for predicting that the next iPhone would land in August or September, along with a cheaper iPhone aimed at emerging markets. Yang didn't have any other juicy details about the phone itself; the release date is the thing to watch here. That August/September prognostication puts him in line with a growing squad of Apple-watchers calling for a July/August/September release, including Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, Jeremy Horwitz of iLounge, Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster and Peter Misek of Jeffries.
Kuo and Horwitz are the two prognosticators-to-watch: They've proven to be accurate in the past, unlike Misek and Munster. (M&M, as they are known in the Apple community of my mind). By June, we should be getting a very clear sense of Apple's timeline for the iPhone 5S; if you can hold out that long without upgrading, it's probably worth waiting.
2. Will The "iPhone Mini" Prove To Be A 4.5-Inch Screen Monster?
Since the dawn of man (or, since the first iPhone was released), Apple has been rumored to release a cheaper iPhone along with it, to entice buyers in emerging markets like China. And like the long-awaited third movie in the Mortal Kombat film trilogy, it hasn't happened yet.
There's been a ton of renewed chatter about such an "iPhone Mini" or "iPhone Nano" in the past couple of months, though, with several analysts convinced that Apple is finally going to put one out this time around. "2013 is going to be the year!" they cry, their eyes full of hope and innocence. We've heard rumors about how such a phone would cut costs -- a plastic body is probably the most popular suggestion -- and what it might look like.
Here's a fresh one: The Japanese Apple blog Macotakara claims that Apple is pushing its cheaper iPhone back to 2014; and that rather than a smaller phone, its "iPhone Mini" will actually contain a 4.5-inch screen, or 0.5-inches larger than the current iPhone 5 display. AppleInsider has more.
Obviously this conflicts with the C.W. surrounding the release timeframe and the size of the iPhone Mini; also obviously, the C.W. on the iPhone Mini has been wrong every year dating back to 2007. We're still waiting for more solid information (especially given Macotakara's somewhat inaccurate past).
3. Are We Going To See The First iPhones In Color This Summer?
Leaving this here as a mere curiosity, but a persistent rumor about the cheaper iPhone is that Apple is going to make it available in different colors, similar to what Nokia does with the Lumia 920 and what Mars Inc. does with Skittles. This week Apple Bitch (real website name!) noticed that Apple posted a new job (who says we're in a recession?) looking for an anodizing engineer -- or, a lady or gent who could add color to aluminum. The job posting is here, and there's no mention of the iPhone; Apple could be looking to replace someone in the iPod division. (The iPod already comes in many colors, like the coat of Joseph).
So, this is pure, unsourced, irredeemable speculation. But isn't it fun? Especially when we have MOCKUPS of what a colored iPhone might look like below??
4. 'iPad 5' Cases Already Popping Up In China
One of the quirks of the Apple rumor mill is that cases for non-existent products often leak months before the product's actual release date, as the factories that work on those products leak internal specs to case-makers in China. These case leaks have proven accurate before, so let's not write this one off too quickly.
Supposed cases of the next-generation iPad -- which Apple will call the iPad, and which everyone else will call the iPad 5 -- popped up on international marketplace AliBaba last week. You can view them below. What can they tell us? What do they whisper into our ears about the future iPad?
Once again discovered by Apple Bitch (twice in one column I get to mention Apple Bitch, and there is nothing -- NOTHING -- my editor can do about it!), there's nothing particularly revealing about these cases. There is a slot for the Lightning connector, and the width and height appears to be about the same as the current generation of iPad. The one potentially-intriguing aspect of the cases is the reduced bezel size: The iPad will reportedly take design cues from the iPad mini, which has much thinner bezels (or bevels).
Again, not exactly David Beckham Super Bowl commercial sexiness here. But it's something.
The presence of these cases doesn't really tell us anything about a release date timeframe for the next iPad (though it is generally assumed it will arrive in the second-half of this year).
It is with my deepest apologies that I inform you that I lack a Faulkner pun to drive home this final bit of non-news. If only there were some quote associated with Faulkner to describe a loud, flashy event that, in the end, signifies very little.
That's all for this week's edition of This Week In Apple Rumors. Make sure you join us again next week; or, if you want to get Apple rumors as they break, you can get all the latest by following me on Twitter right here.