Specs vs speculation: what the gadget rumors said - and what we actually got
15th Jun 2014 | 11:01
We're hearing that the iPhone 6 will be made out of cheese
1-10: Specs v speculation
Rumors. We can't get enough of them - even, or maybe especially, when their sources have clearly left reality far behind.
The more exciting the device the more fevered the speculation, and from time to time it's even accurate, sometimes years before the device ever ships.
Come with us as we compare the rumors to the reality of the most hotly anticipated gadgets we've seen in recent years. What did they get right, and what was just wishful thinking?
1 Apple iPad
It was a large iPod with no keyboard and it'd launch in 2004. It was white, used a stylus, ran a stripped-down OS X and would ship in 2005. It did home automation and would launch in 2007. So far so outlandish but as time passed the iPad rumours got closer to the truth of what Apple would ultimately unveil in 2010.
In 2009 reports suggested 3G and non-3G versions, ARM processors, ebook features, video conferencing and a virtual keyboard, and in early 2010 reports suggested a modified iPhone OS, a 9.7-inch screen and, er, a thousand-dollar price tag.
2 Nokia Lumia 1020
The rumoured name turned out to be wrong - it was dubbed the EOS, and apparently had the much better codename of Elvis - but the rumour factory was full of win with Nokia's incoming flagship.
It predicted that Nokia would take the 41-megapixel PureView camera from its 808, add some Windows Phone goodness and stick a 4.5-inch 720p display, quad-core processor and 32GB of storage into its brightly coloured aluminium body.
3 Google Glass
In early 2012 we started to hear about Google goggles - glasses that would "stream information to the wearers' eyeballs in real time," said the NY Times. The inevitable "people familiar with the project" said they'd run Android, would include a small screen and would cost "around the price of current smartphones" - that is, somewhere between $250 and $600.
The glasses would look rather like Oakley's Thump range, and according to 9to5google they "could be mistaken for normal glasses". Mistaken in the dark, maybe and that low price tag was a massive underestimate too, with early adopters ponying up $1,500 for first dibs on Google's face tech.
The speculation that Glass would replace a smartphone rather than just pair with it turned out to be optimistic too.
4 Sony PlayStation 4
Fancy a Sony Orbis? That's what the rumours predicted in 2012. The successor to the PS3 would be called the Orbis, because "Orbis Vitae" is Latin for "circle of life".
It would launch in 2013, would feature an AMD 64X CPU and an AMD Southern Islands GPU, would run 3D games at 1080p, would use its always-on requirement to block used games and wouldn't be backwards compatible with the PS3.
The name didn't make it, presumably because it's rubbish, and the used game ban was ditched after Microsoft's similar plans created a PR disaster.
In 2010, we started to hear that Google was working on a Facebook killer, and it was called Google Me - or at least, that's what Digg co-founder Kevin Rose said when his tweet let the social networking cat out of the internet bag.
Speculation suggested something that would kill off Google's then-current social service, Buzz, in favour of Facebook-style news feeds. That speculation turned out to be entirely correct - as was the speculation that the Facebook killer would find it hard to topple Facebook from its position as the world's favourite social network.
6-10: Gear up and swallow the blue pill
6 Samsung Galaxy Gear
Patents are a particular minefield for rumor-mongers - just because a firm has an idea doesn't mean they'll actually make it into a product any time soon, or ever.
NBC News clearly wasn't listening back in 2013, because it used a Samsung patent to describe how "this could be the first device to bring [Samsung's] flexible display technology to the masses."
The real Galaxy Gear turned out to be considerably less futuristic.
7 Sony Project Morpheus
Rumours of a Sony VR headset have been swirling since at least 2011, when Sony London's chief Mick Hocking described how Sony was experimenting with "virtual reality-type experiences."
But while the headset was supposedly due to appear at pretty much every games-related event in 2013 it didn't receive an official unveiling until 2014. The rumours, however, accurately predicted that Sony would have relatively little software for it and it would be more of a tech demo than a finished product.
8 Apple iPhone 5
The intense interest in all things Apple is taking the fun out of rumor-mongering. By the time the iPad 3 was imminent the rumour mill was accurately predicting a retina display, a heftier body and the imminent iPad mini, and we feel we know all about the iPhone 6 already.
It's not all sensible, though: the last three iPhones have been rumoured to have NFC and the iPhone 5 was also reported to have wireless charging and haptic feedback. Before that the iPhone 4 was rumoured to have a touch-sensitive casing , while patent watchers suggested a stylus (nope), a pop-out antenna (nope) and a removable battery (nopety nopety nope).
9 Microsoft Xbox One
It would be called the Xbox 720, the Loop or Durango, it would retail for $350-$400, it would have similar specs to the PS4 and it would bundle a next-generation Kinect. The new controller would have a touch pad, it would require to be always on and it might ban second-hand games.
Not quite: it was called the Xbox One, its price was a hefty $499 at launch, and the controller was touchpad-free. The rumoured Kinect, always-on and limits on second-hand games were correct, though - although Microsoft has since backtracked on all three.
In some cases reality is even crazier than rumours: according to Xbox insiders, Microsoft even considered adding smells to its controller.
10 Samsung Galaxy S5
The rumours predicted a 2560x1440, 5-inch WQHD display delivering an incredible 587ppi, a flexible OLED and either aluminium or carbon fibre for the chassis. The S5 would be Samsung's first 64-bit smartphone and you'd unlock it with your eyeballs.
Not quite: what we got was a 1920x1080 display, a plastic case, and a 32-bit smartphone with fingerprint, not eyeball, scanning.
- If you want more rumors, then check out iPhone 6: what we want to see