The iOSsphere is now very sure iPhone 5 will have a 4-inch display. They're just not sure who is building it. See also iPhone 5 release date, specs and rumour round-up.

In case you were unsure, the Next iPhone will not -- repeat, not -- be malware proof. But you will be able to buy malware-infected apps with its i-wallet and NFC radio.

Finally, a playful Italian designer introduces a real novelty in the iOSsphere: irony.

You read it here second.

"No, we are not recycling the old news just to give them a new spin." -- Main Device, recycling the old news that "iPhone 5 Could Integrate NFC Through an e-Wallet Application."

SCUTTLEBUTT: Lamest and most bizarre iPhone 5 rumors of 2011

It's real: iPhone 5 will have a 4-inch display

They don't call it the WORLD Wide Web for nothing. U.S.-based AppleInsider found a Japanese website that claimed that Hitachi and Sony have teamed up to build 4-inch LCD displays for a "new iOS device" and another LCD for iPad 3. The 4-inch screen is already shipping, according to the citation.

The Hitachi-Sony 4-inch screen rumor comes from a Japanese Mac site, AppleInsider says Macotakara was "citing sources within Apple's Far Eastern supply chain. But according to the English translation with the Macotakara posting, the brief post is based entirely and only on 'an Asian source.'"

Maybe the source is one of those Asian smartphone case makers who is still hoping to recoup the money lost when they invested in building big cases for the big-screened Next Generation iPhone that turned out to be the same-screened iPhone 4S.

To flesh out this rather thin gruel, AppleInsider combined the 4-inch screen rumor with two others, thoroughly confusing the rumor situation because these rumors claim that Sharp is now becoming the main source of LCD screens for future iPad and iPhone models, and neither one refers to the screen size.

One rumor, based on a Wall Street Journal story (with no link) says that Sharp will build LCD panels for the iPad 3 at its central Japan plant. The second rumor says that Apple is investing in Sharp, to support that vendor's new LCD manufacturing process, based on a "modified IGZO" (for indium, gallium, zinc) technology. The source for the latter was an investors' report by stock analyst Peter Misek with Jefferies, following a recent visit to Japan. Misek says the process will yield thinner, high-resolution displays with superior viewing angles, no need for dual-bar LED backlighting, and more efficient power use.

But it was Philip Elmer-DeWitt, editor of Fortune's Apple 2.0 blog, who really went into detail on Misek's report.

Misek claims that Apple has poured from $500 million to $1 billion dollars into Sharp and its new display technologies for future iPhones and iPads "with resolutions, battery life and prices its competitors will be hard-pressed to match," summarized Elmer-DeWitt.

Misek says he believes that production of the new iPad 3 displays started two weeks ago at Sharp's Gen 6 Kameyama plant, which is now entirely devoted to Apple. He says he expects the site will be the source for "the vast majority" of iPad 3 and future "iPhone 5 LTE" screens. "The price at which Apple will be able to procure these panels will be lower than expected as the capital commitment by Apple likely necessitates below market pricing in our view."

iPhone 5 won't be immune to malware

Which is another, and worse, way of saying that "iPhone 5 will be vulnerable to malware." But when you put it that way, it doesn't sound like, you know, news.

The full headline at gadget site is: "Security Specialist: iPhone 5 Won't Be Immune To Malware."

"According to a blog entry about smartphone security by a computer security specialist and a writer, Bruce Schneier, iPhones will never get more secure than Android because of the rules imposed by Apple on the iTunes App Store," according to RealityPod, which doesn't bother to link to Schneier's post.

We do, however. His post actually isn't about the iPhone 5, or the Next iPhone, or even current iPhones. So what is it about, you ask?

His blog post headline helpfully declares: "Android Malware." He's noting and linking to a recent report that found a huge surge in malware incidents for Android phones. And he makes a general observation about that: "As the phones become more integrated into people's lives -- smart phone banking, electronic wallets -- they're simply going to become the most valuable device for criminals to go after."

Then follows his one reference to Apple and iPhone: "And I don't believe the iPhone will be more secure because of Apple's rigid policies for the app store." Schneier apparently means, "Apple's rigid App Store policies will not make the iPhone more secure." But RealityPod interpreted this to mean, "Future iPhones will be insecure because of the rigid App Store policies."

RealityPod's rather garbled conclusion: "Now, Apple must keep its security right at the top of its priorities or time will prove that one of the Cupertino giant's primary concerns will be those of security."

Expect Apple to include near-field communications (NFC) in iPhone 5

That's the conclusion drawn by ITProPortal and other tech websites, based on a new "report." Or several reports. Or reporting. Something, anyway.

NFC is a very short-range radio appearing in various devices and touted, for years, as a way to allow mobile payments by turning your card or handset into a mobile wallet.

This is not a new rumor, of course. But don't think that these sites are merely recycling.

"No, we are not recycling the old news just to give them a new spin," Main Device solemnly declares. Perish the thought. "This time reports from the tech industry revealed by DigiTimes seem to point in this direction."

"[N]ow a report emanating from handset manufacturers in Asia indicates it is highly likely we will see an e-Wallet (or i-Wallet) application using NFC arriving with the iPhone 5 next year," ITProPortal assures us.

So, what's the report? It's a 164-word post at DigiTimes (you'll have to follow the link in the ITProPortal post), which cites "Taiwan-based smartphone makers" as its source. The story isn't about the iPhone 5 per se. It's about the expected, or projected, or wished-for adoption of short-range NFC radios in smartphones, as a mechanism for wireless payments.

From DigiTimes: "As Android, Symbian, BlackBerry and Bada have supported NFC (near field communication) functions and Microsoft and Apple plan to make Windows Phone and iOS support NFC in 2012, the proportion of NFC-enabled smartphones will quickly increase from less than 10% currently to over 50% in two to three years ..."

For normal people, who have to pay bills and get supper ready for the kids and so on, that's kind of a yawner, especially because "quick increases" of NFC-enabled smartphones have been predicted every year almost since the dawn of the latest millennium.

But Main Device sees deeper. "Just think of the huge database of iTunes accounts, with over 200 million credit card information. With this starting point Apple could easily integrate NFC technology to iOS 5," the site explains breathlessly, without actually explaining how a complete, secure NFC infrastructure could be "easily integrated" into iOS 5. "Theoretically, this time next year, an iPhone (let's say iPhone 5, for the sake of argument) owner can wave his handset in front of a terminal with a NFC sensor and then enter an Apple ID password on the iPhone to complete the purchase."

"[W]e don't really think Apple would take the back seat while rivals play successfully with a new technology," Main Device concludes.

"Successfully" is the key word. The iPhone 5 News Blog at least cites a recent report from ABI Research (summarized in a press release here).

"By the end of 2012, Google will prove that Google Wallet is a hit with consumers ...," says Mark Beccue, senior analyst, mobile commerce and NFC, who argues that wallet offerings from Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) will be under pressure from entrants like Google and soon Apple. "Apple will launch a mobile wallet product in 2012. Apple's MNO partners will allow Apple to offer their mobile wallet to consumers who have iPhones, regardless of whether or not the MNO has a competing mobile wallet," says Beccue.

He predicts 594 million users of NFC mobile wallets in 2016.

We'll wait to see whether Google proves that Google Wallet really is a hit with consumers by the end of next year [See Network World's Hottest Arguments: e-wallets vs. traditional wallets]

Accessory will turn iPhone 5 into super point-and-shoot smart camera. Seriously

This qualifies as the dumbest-rumor-to-be-offered-with-a-straight-face. The dumbest so far today.

The website references and links to "concept art" from that concept art-house par excellence, ADR Studios: an "accessory" that includes interchangeable "Apple Lens" and an "iMount" system for turning your future iPhone 5 into what 9to5Mac calls a "point-and-shoot killer."

"We're guessing a few companies are already at work on an [sic] similar accessory after seeing these gorgeous mock ups," enthuses 9to5Mac.

We're guessing that the ADR guys are rolling on the floor laughing.

9to5Mac is apparently unaware that the ADR image it posted shows the accessorized iPhone 5, now as the "iCam" (standing on edge), with ADR's earlier "concept art" for the iPhone 5, posted in October, which is shown lying flat.

The gorgeous mock-up of Point-and-Shoot Killer, or PSK, is considerably thicker than the "standard" phone; and it makes the iPhone itself unusable for anything except photos. The "accessory" is aluminum unibody, according to the original ADR post (which you can find, with all the iCam concept art, here). The only way to accessorize the concept iPhone 5 into the iCam would be by completely encasing it in a metal sleeve, so it's thicker, heavier, less usable, lacking even a 3.5-inch screen and having the cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios completely wrapped in metal.

The iOSsphere doesn't process irony.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: [email protected] Blog RSS feed:

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