Rumor: 4.8-inch iPhone 6 arriving in summer 2014

iPhone 5 alternative future (CiccareseDesign 001)

Jeffries analyst Peter Misek is on a roll. First he wrote in a note issued to clients this morning that channel checks led him to believe that the iPhone 5S is entering production in March for a likely June/July introduction.

Then word came that Misek thinks Apple could be holding a media event next month to announce a software development kit (SDK).

The official SDK would enable programmers to write full-screen 1080p apps and games for the Apple TV set-top box. And now, we learn that Misek doesn’t see the 4.8-inch iPhone launching this year at all. Instead, Apple is looking to release a bigger iPhone in mid-2014, he writes…

Note that DigiTimes reported last month that an iPhone with a bigger screen will launch in 2014.

Misek was first to report back in December 2012 that a 4.8-inch iPhone was in the works and believed Apple would release it this summer.

Again, citing channel checks, he claimed several iPhone 6 prototypes were floating around, with one model rocking a 4.8-inch screen.

It has a Retina+ IGZO screen, a new A7 quad-core processor variant, and a new form factor with no home button. Full gesture control is also possibly included.

In today’s note to clients relayed by MacRumors, Misek writes that the device won’t launch until mid-2014 because Apple wants to fully re-architect iOS to utilize more cores on the next-gen A7 chip.

We think Apple plans to re-architect iOS to utilize more cores and better compete with Samsung. Also, we believe the way iOS interoperates with iCloud, gestures controls, and advertising will be substantially upgraded.

Another reason: Apple allegedly wants to fab the A7 package on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s (TSMC) 20-nanometer process, but TSMC won’t ramp up this process technology before 2014.

Apple product roadmap (Jefferies estimates 20130213)

Source: Jefferies estimates, via BusinessInsider.

Apple’s current iPhone app processor is on 32nm. For the iPhone 6 we think Apple will likely skip over 28nm and go to 20nm to facilitate adding more cores (4 or even 8).

While TSMC is targeting a 2014 ramp in its 20nm production we think that issues like double patterning could make it a more complicated transition than the 28nm ramp, which had its own substantial ramp and yield issues.

The iPhone maker recently commissioned TSMC to run trial manufacturing of the A6X processor which debuted inside the iPad 4 last year. According to last month’s report  by DigiTimes Research, Apple contracted out manufacturing of a cutting-edge chip for a “breakthrough” device to TSMC.

TSMC, the world’s largest independent semiconductor foundry, will invest $9 billion in capital expenditure this year and even more in 2014 as it moves toward the more advanced 20nm and 16nm process technologies.

Finally, Misek writes that that the iPhone 6 will drop the in-cell display assembly process that the iPhone 5 adopted in favor of either on-cell OLED or Sharp’s IGZO panels, which offer twice the resolution at only ten percent power consumption of the traditional LCD screen.

I guess Misek didn’t get the memo that Tim Cook trashed OLED tech during his Goldman Sachs keynote.