Apple, as a rule, never says what its upcoming products will look like, be like, or even what they’re called. But months and even years before a new Apple product is scheduled (or expected to) arrive, numerous rumors shape these objects into a vague but somewhat coherent picture. This is how we “know” that the next iPhone will come in three versions, one of which will (likely) have a near bezel-less screen with an under-the-glass fingerprint sensor and a glass back.
These rumors mostly originate from the elusive “sources in Apple’s supply chain,” which usually means either workers at Foxconn, the Chinese company that builds the iPhone for Apple, or various secondary sources such as workers at companies that make iPhone cases and thus have limited prior knowledge of what the upcoming devices will look like.
Now, the mother of all leaks has appeared on Reddit, where a group of alleged — and verified, to a degree, by Reddit’s moderators — Foxconn insiders is divulging all the secrets about a number of Apple products, including the next iPhone, the MacBook, and even the rumored Apple virtual reality glasses.
This is suspicious, because it doesn’t usually happen. People who have some knowledge about an upcoming product share it with an analyst for a fee or as a token of trust for cooperation down the line. I’ve seen photos of odd-looking Apple device prototypes; these partially concealed, poorly photographed things are sometimes shown amongst tech journalists as badges of honor.
Leaks do exist, but the leakers don’t have much to gain from freely posting photographs, schematics, and specs sheets on the internet. They do have a lot to lose, though: Their jobs, and possibly their freedom, as it’s against the law to peddle corporate secrets in China.
And fake leaks exist, too. It’s not that hard to conjure a spec sheet for an upcoming device out of thin air: It’ll have a faster processor, more memory, better camera. Of course it will. The back and forth on Reddit, especially given the original poster’s history — AppleInsider warns that the same person was probably wrong about Apple products before — could very well be based on someone’s imagination.
There are other indications that the entire thing is at the very least suspicious. Many answers are vague, and the poster, named Foxconninsider, claims several people are behind the keyboard, adding to the confusion. Check out these replies to a question on whether the iPhone 8 will have an under-the-glass fingerprint sensor or not.
Not the clearest of answers, but it does seem to indicate that the iPhone 8 likely won’t have an under-the-glass fingerprint sensor. Replies to the same thread are equally vague.
A reply in another thread appears to be far more definitive. So which is it?
Even if some of this information is genuine, a lot of it’s confusing, contradictory, and doesn’t leave us much smarter than before.
It’s no different with regards to news on other Apple products. The MacBook Air is “discontinued,” but “it may be recycled.” The MacBook is apparently getting the MagSafe connector (in “12-18” months) and the glowing Apple logo back (no timeline). The 15-inch variant of the MacBook Pro will have a 32GB RAM option, but no timeline is given (previous rumors said it might be launched at WWDC). When asked about the MacBooks in another thread, the leakers says they “haven’t had significant exposure on 2017 MacBooks.”
Some info on possibly upcoming or canceled products reads like a wish list from an Apple fan. Project Ashnazg — an Apple smart ring — is mentioned; apparently it had “compelling specs.” And there’s a 65% (how do they come up with these percentages) chance Apple Glasses, which by the way have “very unique design,” will be cancelled.
And one product, Apple home speaker, will be launched at WWDC but it was delayed into “late 2017,” as Foxconn lost the contract to build it and it will be built by another manufacturer. This is an interesting leak which we haven’t seen elsewhere; if it turns out to be true it will speak a lot about the veracity of its origin.
Some info reads like a wish list from an Apple fan.
The Reddit discussion is a cool read for an Apple fan, or anyone interested in technology; check out this overview on Reddit for all the important bits. Without any visual evidence, and given its overall vagueness, I remain skeptical about the whole thing. It’s quite possible that these people are close to Foxconn and have some info about some Apple products, but are also making up things as they go along.
Diving a bit deeper into Foxconninsider’s history, you’ll find at least one promise that wasn’t kept. In 2016, the user bragged about a “massive story in wearables for an entire new line which we will close later this year”.
Shaky as it is, the “leak” strikes me as important. My instinct was to merely skip it, but such a large trove of info about Apple products, on the eve of WWDC, is hard to ignore. The demand for Apple-related news is enormous; people want to know about the next big thing and they want to know now, even if it’s still just an idea in an Apple engineer’s mind.
So I point to the leak, cautiously, and advise you take it with a large chunk of salt. Because if an anonymous someone with very little solid evidence on his/her claims can get basically every major media outlet to publish a detailed report on their words, then at one point there will be an anonymous someone who will do that just for fun.
We’ve contacted Apple for comment and will update this article when we hear from them.