All eyes are currently on the brand-new Apple launch event, which should see the last products that are going to be released this year. While the iPhone 6 isn’t going to be among the list of products, by seeing the iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina Display we’ll get a better idea of what Apple’s been working on for its iOS devices.
Combined with the information we have from the recently launched iPhone 5s and iOS 7, we should get a better idea of what Apple is planning for its next smartphone, the iPhone 6.
Of everything that we know now, the biggest bit of information is than the iPhone 6 is going to have a larger screen that the iPhone 5S. Although sales of the iPhone are high, the Android competition has all moved to large-screen Full HD models, with the HTC One, Sony Xperia Z and Samsung Galaxy S4, so it makes sense for Apple to compete on screen size.
In this article we’re rounding up all of the iPhone 6 rumours. We’ll give you all the current information on the release date, price and specs, filtering the information to help work out which rumours sound most likely.
iPHONE 6 RELEASE DATE
Guessing Apple’s release dates is a complete and utter nightmare, with practically every prediction wrong. It’s clear, given that the iPhone 5S was only released in September, that we’re not going to see the iPhone 6 until 2014 now.
Apple usually has products on sale for a year, but the iPhone 6 feels like a different proposition to us. Rather than a replacement for an existing iPhone, it’s more of an addition to the line-up. We kind of see it replication what Samsung has with the full-size Galaxy S4 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, with the exception that Apple’s small phone, the 5S, is still really powerful.
Tim Cook has hinted at new products coming soon autumn launch in a call with investors. “Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software, and services that we can’t wait to introduce this fall and throughout 2014,” Cook said. As we know now, the products Cook was talking about are being released on the 22nd October and include the iPad 5 and iPad Mini 2.
That would seem to be it for 2013, so we’re going to have to wait until 2014 for the iPhone 6. However, relatively speaking, it seems fair that we can expect the handset soon, particularly as Apple’s Canadian arm has apparently already leaked the iPhone 6. If we had to be pushed on a date, we’d say that early next year, between March and May would make sense. This would give Apple enough distance from the iPhone 5S, and give it a chance to take the limelight away from Samsung, which will be looking to release its Galaxy S5 handset around the same time.
iPHONE 6 NAME
One of the biggest questions is, will the iPhone 6 even be called that? We were all caught out when Apple decided not to go with iPad 5 for its new tablet, choosing to go with the iPad Air instead. There’s every good reason why Apple might follow a similar strategy with its new iPhone, perhaps even going for iPhone Air.
The reasons for changing the naming strategy will probably depend on when the next iPhone is launched. If, as expected, it’s launched early next year, that would mean that the iPhone 6 would only be released around six months after the iPhone 5S. For people that have bought the iPhone 5S, the new model with a higher iteration would immediately look like the newer and better phone; however, it would seem that Apple’s plans for the iPhone 6 are to bring out a model with a larger screen that sits alongside, not in front of, the iPhone 5S.
With this rational, it’s easy to see Apple deciding to call the new line something like iPhone Air, so that the existing iPhone line with its smaller screen can continue.
iPHONE 6 SCREEN
It seems pretty clear at this point that the iPhone 6 is going to have a larger screen than any iPhone released to date. The question that has to be answered is, how big will the screen be? Early rumours suggested that there would be a 4.8in screen, but more recent rumours have suggested that the iPhone 6 could have a 5in screen.
According to Japanese tech publication MacFun, the 5in screen will have a Full HD resolution of 1,920×1,080. From a certain point of view this makes a lot of sense, as there are already a lot of Full HD phones out there. However, we think that the resolution could be wrong, mostly because of the way that Apple works.
Apple has always been very careful in its resolution choices, so that apps look right on all of its devices. So, when Apple first went Retina with the quadrupled the resolution of the iPhone 3GS from 480×320 to the iPhone 4’s 960×640. Quadrupling means that the horizontal and vertical resolutions are doubled, which makes scaling of old apps easy. When the company went widescreen, it kept the same horizontal resolution of 640 pixels, so old apps would run properly, but just with black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.
Moving to 1,920×1,080 would mean scaling up the current iPhone’s resolution of 1,136×640 by 1.69 times vertically and 1.69 times horizontally. That’s not such a clean method of scaling and there could be some issues with getting apps to work properly. As a result, Apple may decide to go for more resolution than it technically needs for a Retina display, quadrupling the current iPhone’s resolution to 2,272×1,280 instead.
While Apple has not previously made a large-screen phone, upping the screen size for the iPhone 6 makes a lot of sense. It means it can compete with the large-screen phones from other manufacturers and keep the iPhone 5S as a smaller alternative, giving iPhone users more choice. The latest rumours have suggested larger, curved screens in both 4.7 and 5.5in sizes, which would compete with the current crop of Android smartphones and larger phablet handsets.
Tim Cook has said, “Some customers value large screen size, others value other factors such as resolution, colour quality, white balance, brightness, reflectivity, screen longevity, power consumption, portability, compatibility with apps and many things. Our competitors had made some significant trade-offs in many of these areas in order to ship a larger display. We would not ship a larger display iPhone while these trade-offs exist.”
What that statement says, to us, is that Apple won’t ship a large-screen iPhone until it’s managed to iron out all of the trade-offs. A thinner screen, to make a lighter phone, could well be the right way to go, then.
It’s no wonder, then, that Apple may also be considering the screen technology that it uses, with a Sharp IGZO (Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide) screen top of the list. This new technology allows for screens that use less power and are considerably thinner. Rumours certainly picked up when the Sharp IGZO technology was demonstrated at CES 2013.
Curved glass is also a possibility. Although it’s unlikely Apple would ever opt for something as radical as Samsung’s Galaxy Round or the LG G Flex, glass that curves around the edges of an otherwise flat handset would give the iPhone 6 a pebble-like feel that wouldn’t dig into your hands like the angular lines of the current generation iPhone.
iPHONE 6 TOUGHER CONSTRUCTION
Although beautifully made, the iPhone is just as breakable as any other smartphone, with plenty of people walking around with cracked screens after a drop. Apple appears to be working on a solution to this problem, toughening up its products.
A new deal could signal a [href=”http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/smartphones/1303525/new-apple-deal-could-signal-sapphire-screen-for-iphone-6″]super-tough sapphire screen for the iPhone 6[/a].
According to reports, Apple has struck a deal with GT Advanced technologies to produce sapphire glass in a plant in Arizona.
The deal was announced by GT Advanced Technologies in a regulatory filing. “The sapphire glass that GT will make in the facility will be used to cover the camera lenses in Apple’s phones and the fingerprint-reading devices in its latest products. GT’s technology also can be used to make scratchproof glass covers for smartphones, although it is not used for that purpose by Apple today”.
Apple is due to pay $578m, which GT Advanced Technologies will use to buy and operate sapphire production equipment in a new Arizona facility. GT Advanced Technologies will pay back the Apple over a five-year period.
While the deal should, in the short-term, provide Apple with the materials it needs for existing components, there’s a long-term plan, too. As part of the deal, GT Advanced Technologies will “deliver low cost, high volume manufacturing of sapphire material” using a large-capacity furnace.
Synthetic sapphire glass gets its name because it’s transparent, although it’s not technically glass. However, sapphire’s advantage over glass is its incredible durability and hardiness. Sapphire has a value of 9 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, putting it just behind diamond. This means that it’s extremely difficult to break, resulting in fewer broken iPhones, saving money in repair costs.
GT Advanced Technologies makes roughly $29 million in revenue from sapphire glass today, but predicts to make between $600 and $800 million in 2014. That huge spike looks likely to come from providing Apple with screens for its next device.
As well as looking at the screen, Apple is also said to be looking at toughening up the case by investigating liquid metal for the iPhone 6.
Liquid metal would encase the iPhone 6 is a super-tough metal, built up layer-by-layer, making it a lot hardier and more difficult to break. According to new information, Apple has put in five patents for liquid metal.
One describes how bulk metallic glasses (BMG, or liquid metal to give it the more familiar name) would be layered on top of each other to create components. The main focus on this invention is via 3D printing, allowing Apple to build components and cases from computer-generated designs.
According to the patents, Apple has stated liquid metal’s uses: “A telephone, such as a cell phone, and a land-line phone, or any communication device, such as a smart phone, including, for example an iPhone, and an electronic email sending/receiving device. It can be a part of a display, such as a digital display, a TV monitor, an electronic-book reader, an iPad, and a computer monitor.”
What’s more Patently Apple, which found the information, believes that Apple has already used liquid metals in the iPhone 5S, suggesting that the technology is already available. It’s clear, then, that Apple is interested in liquid metal for the iPhone and iPad range, so it’s now a matter of when.
If Apple does opt to change the screen size for the iPhone 6, it will almost certainly introduce a new handset design as well. Rather than simply scale up an existing iPhone, a new look would better differentiate the new handset from its predecessors. Although far from official, some early speculative renders give us an idea what a redesigned iPhone 6 might look like.
The renders, published to Yanko Design, show what the iPhone 6 would look like with a larger screen, thinner bezel, rounded edges and no home key.
We doubt Apple will retire the home key any time soon, as iOS depends on it so heavily. The company also just introduced the TouchID fingerprint sensor with the iPhone 5s, and removing it a generation later would be an admission of failure on Apple’s part. Even so, we’re big fans of the larger screen and ultra-thin bezels.
Touch ID, the fingerprint reader, was the one of the big talking points for the iPhone 5S. Recent rumours suggest that Touch ID will also come to the iPad 5 and iPad Mini 2, so we’d really expect it on the iPhone 6.
Touch ID works brilliant and encourages people to be more secure, as using it requires a passcode to be set. At the moment, Touch ID can only be used to unlock the iPhone and to authorise iTunes and App Store payments, but it would make sense for Apple to be thinking about new applications for the technology. We can easily see a future where banking apps, for example, are authenticated through the phone.
For the technology really to be taken seriously, we’d expect to see it in as many mobile devices as possible, which obviously includes the iPhone 6. The only real question is, will we see Touch ID open up any new features? If Apple was to include a NFC chip, then Touch ID could be used to authenticate payments. We’re not necessarily expecting NFC, though, as Apple has so far been dead set against including it.
We already have iOS 7, so it makes sense that this operating system will be used for the iPhone 6. It’s possible, given that the iPhone 5S has features specific to it, that the OS will be updated to introduce new features with the new handset. For example, it could enable NFC is Apple decides that it wants the technology to use for mobile payments; we wouldn’t bet on it, though, as it seems steadfastly against it.
iOS 7 was released with the iPhone 5S, but a tweaked version could come to the iPhone 6
For the iPhone 5S Apple upped the physical size of its 8-megapixel sensor, meaning that each pixel gets more light. In addition, it upgraded the lens from an f/2.4 model to an f/2.2 model, increasing low-light performance again. Combined with the A7 SoC, the camera has a couple of neat modes, including a 10fps burst mode that goes on until the phone’s memory is full, and a 120fps slow-motion mode.
It would make sense if Apple was to use this sensor in the iPhone 6, although, given it’s a bigger phone, with more room inside for components, it could well up the pixel count, with a 12- or 13-megapixel on the cards.
A bigger screen requires more power, so any technology that can increase battery life has to be good. For the iPhone 6 Apple could be about to revisit gaze detection technology, where the phone can tell if you’re looking at the screen or not. If you were to look away, the phone could pause a video playing and turn the screen off. PatentlyApple has dug up the full information on how the technology is likely to work.
Given that Samsung has similar technology in its Galaxy S4 smartphone, we’d say there’s a high chance that Apple will follow suit and implement its own version.
In terms of storage, 64GB has been the top model for a couple of years, and continues to be so for the iPhone 5S. We’re not expecting this to change for the iPhone 6, although we know that the Apple can make a 128GB model, thanks to the recent launch of a 128GB iPad 4.
The new model doubled the maximum capacity of the previous high-end iPad (64GB). This update was said to be about increasing the variety of uses for the tablet, with Apple stating that more storage was good for large files for use in applications such as CAD and music production. It’s also a more useful amount of storage for photos and videos.
At the moment, the Apple A7 system-on-a-chip (SoC) is the main focus for the company. This is the first 64-bit mobile chip and it’s extremely fast. In fact, in our benchmarks on using the iPhone 5S, we found that the A7 is by far the fastest mobile processor. Apple has now used the A7 chip in both the iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina Display.
Where as in the past Apple had to tweak the graphics part of the SoC to work on an iPad’s screen by adding quad-core graphics (the latest chip with the A6X), with the A7 this isn’t required. Instead, the A7 is fast enough as it is.
With that in mind we’d expect to see the same chip used in the iPhone 6. However, the only caveat is when the phone comes out. If it’s early next year then we’d expect the A7 chip to be used as is; if the release date is closer to the end of next year, then we could see a tweaked version, perhaps even a quad-core variant.
Apple typically releases its new models at the same price as the old ones. If that holds out, then, and assuming that the 16GB model is dropped, we’d expect the 32GB model to cost £529, the 64GB model £599 and the 128GB model £699. However, if the company continues to sell the iPhone 5S, we could be in for some new pricing, with the iPhone 6 a premium model that sits above it, in which case all bets are off and we have no idea how much it will be.
If Apple does decide to make an iPhone with a larger screen, there’s also a good chance prices will increase too. Susquehanna analyst Chris Caso, speaking to AllThingsD, predicted that there could be a $50 to $100 premium for a larger iPhone 6, compared to the 4in iPhone 5s.
Although this goes against Apple’s tradition of keeping prices the same across generations, it’s not a rule the company is afraid to break every now and then. Last month’s iPad Mini with Retina display launch introduced a $70 premium over the entry level model, so a price hike isn’t out of the question.