Apple's iPhone 5 will feature a curved-glass touch-screen display, according to a new DigiTimes report.
"Cover glass makers are reluctant to commit investment to the purchase of glass cutting equipment due to the high capital involved," according to the May 23 report, citing unnamed sources. "Apple reportedly has purchased 200-300 glass cutting machines to be used by glass cutters."
Those machines are supposedly stored at various assembly plants in anticipation of covered-glass production ramping to acceptable levels. DigiTimes also hints that Apple is partnering with its suppliers over manufacturing processes such as glass-cutting and lamination.
One of the iPhone's recent rivals, the Google Nexus S, debuted in December 2010 with a screen curved ever-so-slightly inwards. At the time, Google claimed the display "fits comfortably in the palm of your hand and along the side of your face." The Dell Venue Pro, a smartphone running Windows Phone 7, also features a curved display-albeit slightly outwards, perhaps in a bid to broaden its range of visibility.
Other rumors have suggested Apple is prepping an edge-to-edge screen for the next iPhone. Those reports stem from an "iPhone 5G" case offered on Chinese manufacturer Kulcase's Alibaba.com Website, which was noticed by Electronista and subsequently picked up by Apple-centric blogs such as Apple Insider.
Still more scuttlebutt suggests that, no, the next iPhone will feature only incremental upgrades, even as it appears on a broader set of carriers.
"We believe the likelihood of the iPhone 5 launch in September including LTE [Long-Term Evolution] is now remote," Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter Misek wrote in a May 13 research note. "According to our industry checks, the device should be called iPhone 4S and include minor cosmetic changes, better cameras, A5 dual-core processor, and HSPA+ [Evolved High-Speed Packet Access] support."
That note also claimed that, based on "industry checks," Sprint, T-Mobile and China Mobile will be announced as new iPhone carriers in time for the holiday season: "On Apple's last earnings call, management responded to a question about launching the CDMA [Code Division Multiple Access] iPhone at other carriers as -we are constantly looking and adding where it makes sense, and you can keep confidence that we'll continue to do that.'"
AT&T and Verizon remain the only two U.S. carriers of the iPhone at the moment. Despite AT&T's plans to acquire T-Mobile for $39 billion in cash and stock, the smaller carrier has denied it will carry the iPhone in the short term."
As always, Apple's tight in-house secrecy creates a vacuum in which even the most fanciful rumors can flourish to full live. That being said, the latest surrounding the iPhone 5 should probably be taken with a dump-truck-sized grain of salt until the company makes an official announcement.