Apple, Inc. iPhone 6 Leak: Is a Phablet Likely?

The leaks from the ever-active Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) rumor mill just keep coming. Following a leak last week of an alleged logic board of the 4.7-inch version of the iPhone 6, a new leak shows two different logic boards purportedly for the iPhone 6. What's special about the latest iPhone 6 leak? It provides more evidence that not only is the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 a reality -- but a phablet-like 5.5-inch version is, too.

The leak
The iPhone 6 part leak again comes from Nowhereelse.fr, via MacRumors. It's a photo of two different logic boards next to the iPhone 5s logic board. Both of them would be too large to fit the smaller 4-inch form-factor of the iPhone 5s.

Alleged iPhone 6 logic boards (left and right) next to an iPhone 5s logic board (center). Image source: Nowhereelse.fr.

Notably, the screw hole layout on the logic board on the right aligns with a previous leak of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 rear-casing.

Alleged leaked 4.7-inch iPhone 6 rear casing. The part was first shared by Feld & Volk. Image source: MacRumors.

MaRumors' Eric Slivka thinks these parts could be the real deal:

While the legitimacy of the parts cannot be confirmed, they do appear very similar to existing parts and exhibit complexity that would be expensive to fake. They also contain part numbers (820-3675-04 and 820-2486-09) in the pattern followed by Apple. 

The two phones are speculated to launch in September. But there is some uncertainty about whether the larger phablet-sized iPhone will see a launch on the same day or later in the year. Production challenges for the larger iPhone have been rumored on numerous occasions.

Why Apple needs a phablet
Chances are, Apple's 4.7-inch version of the iPhone 6 would be the No. 1 seller out of the two if Apple does launch this rumored lineup this year. But that doesn't mean we should discount the potential of the 4.7-inch model's larger sibling. Indeed, in some markets, the iPhone phablet may be absolutely crucial for Apple.

Phablets, or smartphones often defined by those that have screens measuring between 5 and 7 inches diagonally, are extremely popular in Asia, according to data from IDC. In a three-month period last year, phablets sold just as well as tablets in the Asia-Pacific region, the research company says. And once you factor out Japan, IDC says phablets sold about twice as well as tablets in the region during that same period.

The popularity of phablets in emerging and developing markets has to do with the fact that they often serve as a replacement for a smartphone, tablet, and PC -- all in one. And while many first viewed the phablet as a cumbersome device, ABI Research says users are realizing that the size isn't so awkward after all.

4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 mockups pictured with the 4-inch iPhone 5s. Source: 9to5Mac, used with permission.

More recently, market research firm Kantar WorldPanel ComTech said that during March, a whopping 40% of all smartphones sold in China were phablets. And Kantar strategic insight director Dominic Sunnebo's comments even suggest that the phablet is stealing meaningful attention away from the television:

It's clear that phablets really are changing the way Chinese consumers use smartphones. More than one in five phablet owners now watch mobile TV on a daily basis, half do so at least once a month, and this is without widespread availability of 4G.

As anyone following Apple knows, China offers a lucrative growth opportunity for the tech giant. So Apple shareholders should be pumped to see Apple get into the phablet space, given its popularity in the region.

Seeing the opportunity in phablets, Apple may even actually boost the price of the larger iPhone 6 to a subsidized $299, according to numerous reports. Of course Apple could change its decision on pricing just days before the iPhone launch, so we shouldn't count on such a move.

With this latest leak, it looks more likely than ever that Apple really is working on two different-sized, larger form factors for the iPhone 6 lineup. And considering how hot larger smartphones and phablets are in the market today, Apple's latest lineup could be a winning pair.


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