There’s a lot of money in writing about Apple rumours, but as Chris Rawson at TUAW pointed out in January, the vast majority of articles are not to be trusted.
As we approach the fall launch of the next iPhone, we thought it’d be fun to look back at some of the most outlandish iPhone rumours previously published — all due respect to those reporters who were fooled.
The Cult of Mac -- among several other news sites -- posted a bogus rumour in August 2012 from a throwaway Reddit account that said Apple was working on an asymmetric screw design that would effectively lock out tinkerers that wanted to play around inside their Mac computers. The rumour was later discovered to have been fabricated by a Swedish design company called Day4, and several Apple websites issued their respective mea culpas after that.
In March 2013, citing 'multiple developer sources,' PocketGamer provided 'confirmation' that Apple was in talks with game developers at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco about its plans to launch a 'dedicated game controller ... ensuring plenty of games will support the joypad at launch.'
Apple didn't release a game controller last year, and although Apple has a 2010 patent for a dedicated game controller (pictured here), it's not clear why Apple would ever do such a thing. (Veteran Apple reporter Jim Dalrymple quickly refuted this report soon after it was published.)
Just about every single tech site got this rumour wrong in 2011. CNET was one of the few companies to insist on the name 'iPhone 4S.' The Verge editor-in-chief Josh Topolsky, then at Engadget, said the 'iPhone 5' would be a 'completely redesigned handset' that would launch in the summer. Instead, that year's iPhone was the 4S, not the 5, and the phone's hardware was not redesigned at all.
In 2011, Topolsky again asserted the next iPhone would be thinner than the current iPhone 4, adding the design would resemble a 'teardrop.' The Wall Street Journal and BGR later hopped on the 'teardrop' bandwagon, but after Apple's fall event came and went, the 2011 iPhone didn't look like a teardrop, but instead featured an identical form factor to its predecessor, the iPhone 4.
Though Apple has a patent for wireless charging, only China Times reported on the likelihood of the 2011 iPhone including the wireless technology, as well as an NFC chip, which was said to help the iPhone make mobile payments. Neither of those rumours came to fruition that year, and the NFC chip may never happen since Apple has found a workaround for near-field connectivity using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technologies.
The day before the iPhone 4S launch in 2011, BGR's Jonathan Geller said the next iPhone, which he believed would be the 'iPhone 5,' would launch as a Sprint exclusive, while a cheaper version of the phone, the iPhone 4S, would be made available to AT&T and Verizon customers. As it turned out, the fifth-generation iPhone -- the iPhone 4S, not the iPhone 5 -- was made available at launch by all major carriers, not just Sprint. The iPhone 5 didn't launch until a 2012.
Since late 2011, shortly after the death of Steve Jobs, Piper Jaffray's resident Apple analyst Gene Munster has continually hyped up the iTV, which was said to be Apple's foray into the living room with a massive display that connected to Apple's iOS ecosystem. It's been three years and there still haven't been any whispers of an Apple-made television set. A concept posted in late 2012, however, still offers an intriguing look at what that TV product might look like.
China Times has published many dubious Apple reports, but perhaps the craziest one involved the 4.8-inch 'iPhone Maths,' which the rumours site said would launch alongside the iPhone 5S and 5C. While Apple may in fact launch a 4.7-inch iPhone this year, no large-screened iPhone launched with the iPhone 5S and 5C last fall. Even if that phone launches this year, it probably won't be called 'Maths.'
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is widely regarded as one of the most reliable Apple analysts, but he was uncharacteristically inaccurate in an August 2013 research note (via 9to5Mac), which said Apple's cheaper iPhone offering, the iPhone 5C, would launch on the vast China Mobile network in the third quarter of that year at about $US400-5oo. Kuo got the price wrong -- the iPhone 5C started at $US549 unlocked, and sold in China for about $US735 -- and it didn't debut on China Mobile until early the following year.
Apple has multiple patent applications for a keyboard that can double as an iPad screen cover, but shortly before Apple's iPad event on October 22 -- in which invitations read, 'We haven't covered everything' -- a former company employee sparked the rumour that Apple would release a keyboard cover for iPad, similar to Microsoft's keyboard solution for its Surface tablet.
Unfortunately, Apple unveiled two new tablets at its October event, including the iPad Air and the iPad mini with Retina display, but the keyboard never showed up. Third-party manufacturers have created keyboard covers and cases for the iPad, but Apple still has yet to debut a first-party solution.