The iPhone 6 is probably one of the most highly-anticipated smartphones for 2014, although we guess this can be said for every iPhone launch which is partly due to the rumor mill which hasn’t exactly been helpful in tempering expectations. Now we’re not sure if this year’s rumors are any more (or less) true, but we have decided to round up what we have heard so far for those who might be feeling a little overwhelmed with all the rumors that have been flying by our heads the past few months.
iPhone 6 Design
If there is one thing many are looking forward to with each new iPhone release is what the new model will look like, and there is a reason for this as Apple’s Sir Jony Ive has been known to put out some pretty impressive industrial masterpieces, as evidenced by Apple’s range of products. However over the years we have come to realize that Apple typically keeps design refreshes on a two-year cycle, so the iPhone 6’s design is definitely something to look forward to this year.
As it stands there aren’t that many rumors surrounding the iPhone 6’s design at the moment, but given Apple’s obsession with creating devices that are thinner and lighter, we can only assume those principles will hold true with the iPhone 6. The concept rendering above is courtesy of Federico Ciccarese who has drawn up some concept iPhone 6 handsets where the bezel is pretty much non-existent, giving us the illusion of a larger display. Like we said this is a concept and not the real deal, but why not? We certainly wouldn’t mind!
Display Size, Type, Resolution
With the iPhone 4, Apple in a way kicked off the race with display resolution, although oddly enough they seem to be lagging behind compared to the Android and Windows Phone competition, where manufacturers have long adopted Full HD as the standard for high-end devices, and in some cases are even trying to introduce QHD displays as the new standard for 2014. In fact last we heard, Samsung could be looking to up the ante with the Galaxy S5 this year with a QHD display.
So what will be Apple’s response this year? The Cupertino company has been pretty stubborn and it took about 5 iPhones before Apple decided to increase the display to 4-inch. Granted it was bigger than previous iPhone devices but still paled in comparison to other smartphones who ventured into almost-tablet territory, like the Sony Xperia Z Ultra with its 6.44-inch display. However according to the the rumors, it looks like Apple could finally be caving in this year as we have heard reports that the iPhone 6 could come in a 4.8-inch or a 4.7-inch variety, depending on which analyst you believe in.
As for resolution, recently leaked specifications (alleged) has suggested that Apple could go with Full HD or QHD, and would utilize Sharp’s IGZO display panels in the process. It has long been rumored that Apple would adopt IGZO technology for its display, although those rumors were finally realized with the iPad Air.
There have also been talks that Apple could turn to sapphire in place of glass. As sapphire is undoubtedly stronger than glass, it would make the iPhone 6’s display more scratch resistant than ever. Rumors of the use of sapphire have been fueled by Apple’s partnership with GT Advanced Technologies as well as the push for opening a sapphire plant in Arizona. Sapphire has typically been used as the lens cover in previous iPhones, as well as the cover for the Touch ID sensor, so for Apple to use it as part of the display would indeed be a huge leap.
New rumors also suggest that the iPhone 6 would adopt a bezel-free display which would no doubt be very beautiful to look at. At the same time the lack of bezels will also create the illusion that the phone is bigger than it really is, while still allowing for single-handed use, or so we hope.
The A8 Processor
With the iPhone 5s, Apple introduced their latest processor in the form of the A7 chipset. One of the interesting things about the A7 chipset is that it came with a co-processor in the form of the M7. This allows data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass to be stored and processed in there separate from the A7 chip, ultimately reducing the amount of work needed to be done, which in turn helps to reduce the amount of battery consumed.
The A7 chipset is also the first mobile chipset to be of the 64-bit variety to make its way into smartphones and tablets, a move that was initially criticized by some in the industry before it was suggested that companies such as Samsung would be making their own 64-bit chipsets as well. Based on the features of the A7, we can only rightfully assume that the A8 will share those features as well.
However if there is one difference in the A7 and A8, apart from the presumed difference in power, is that according to the rumors, Apple’s A8 chipset could see the integration of the DRAM into the chipset itself, as opposed to a separate component. So what are the benefits with integrated DRAM? Well for starters, because the distance between the chips are shorter, we should see some boosts in speed/reduced latency. It would also help to simply the design and free up some space which could lead to a thinner iPhone.
Touch ID was one of the features that was introduced with the iPhone 5s and basically introduced biometric security to the iPhone. Surprisingly unlike fingerprint sensors of the past, Touch ID turned out to be pretty responsive and useful as we found in our reviews. It is incredibly handy as it can be used to verify purchases in the iTunes App Store as well. Presumably with the investment into the technology, Apple will want to bring it to the iPhone 6 as well, although oddly enough Apple decided to pass on using it in the new Retina iPad mini and the iPad Air. It is unclear if there will be any upgrades or improvements made to Touch ID for the iPhone 6, although as a personal wish, a faster response as well as the ability to use it without having to turn on the screen would be great.
A 10MP Camera
If there is one thing Apple can be commended on is that they have never really played the megapixel race. Smartphone manufacturers and even camera manufacturers love to advertise megapixels simply because it is a number that people can relate to. Having more megapixels is not a bad thing, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a good thing either and it definitely does not translate into better photographs, as things such as software, lens, image processor, and so on all play a factor in determining photo quality as well.
That being said, the rumors have suggested that Apple could be looking to upgrade the iPhone 6’s camera to that of the 10MP variety. Previously the rumors claimed that Apple would be retaining the 8MP camera found on the iPhone 5s which isn’t a bad thing. However apart from the rumored upgrade to a 10MP sensor, Apple is also said to be increasing the aperture of the camera from f/2.2 to f/1.8 which should make it more decent under low-light conditions. The iPhone 6’s camera is also said to utilize a new filter that is thinner and lighter and will produce clearer photos, so that is something worth looking forward to.
Upgraded Front-Facing Camera
The rumors are also claiming that the front-facing 3.2MP camera will be kept, although hopefully Apple will work towards increasing the quality of the front-facing camera to match the rear-facing one. While we doubt the front camera will match the back camera, it could see an increase in quality as rumors are suggesting that Apple could be dropping OminVision in favor of Sony to provide the front-facing cameras as well. Sony has provided sensors for Apple’s rear-facing cameras, like that in the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s, so it will be interesting to see what results from their efforts.
Siri has been improved on an ongoing basis, and we can only assume that it will get better over time. In terms of responsiveness, Google’s own voice search appears to still be more intuitive and more responsive, but perhaps by the time the iPhone 6 rolls around, we might see some drastic changes.
Apple typically releases a major update to the iOS platform on an annual basis. We expect that we will learn more about iOS 8 come WWDC 2014 which will be taking place in the middle of the year. So far we don’t know what to expect from iOS 8 since iOS 7 pretty much overhauled the operating system along with a new UI design. In fact iOS 7.1 is expected to introduce a couple more UI tweaks and features and improvements, so in reality it is anyone’s guess as to what iOS 8 could bring to the table.
Battery life has always been something of a contentious issue with iPhone owners. While Apple constantly claims to have made improvements on battery life, there are many iPhone owners out there who probably feel that battery life on their iPhones could be better. This is why it is hardly surprising to see iPhone users with battery cases and external battery packs to charge their phone while on the go.
As it stands the iPhone 5s has a 1,560mAh battery which definitely pales in comparison to Android smartphones whose battery sizes can get as big as 3,300mAh. Of course one can argue that the smaller display would require less power, thus there is no need for such a large battery, but a big bump to battery would definitely be appreciated by iPhone users.
Apple has never really been one to boast about clock speed, RAM, and so on, but based on the iPhone 5s, we can at least look forward to 1GB of RAM, storage options ranging from 16GB up to 64GB as per Apple’s usual configuration. However there were rumors that the iPhone 5s could come with 128GB although that never really materialized, but perhaps Apple could bring that option to the iPhone 6. Other specs we can expect include Bluetooth, WiFi, and 4G LTE which made its debut in the iPhone 5.
Availability & Pricing
Assuming Apple keeps to their schedule of a late 2014 announcement, we can look forward to the iPhone 6 being announced in September 2014, give or take a couple of weeks. Prior to this Apple used to make their iPhone announcements during WWDC which is in the middle of the year, but did away with that timetable with the iPhone 4S.
Pricing should also be kept the same, which means that it will cost $649 for the 16GB model, $749 for the 32GB model, and $849 for the 64GB model.