We all know the iPhone 6 is coming; it’s just a question of when. Since 2008, Apple has unveiled an entirely new handset every two years, and all evidence indicates we’re only a short time away from the eighth iteration of the iPhone — naturally, we’re pretty stoked.
We’re sure Apple will have a few tricks up its sleeve on the big day, but there’s a lot we already know about the new iPhone. Leaked schematics, pilfered parts, and substantiated rumors have been floating around the Internet for a while now, so it’s not too hard to get a pretty clear picture of what it will look like. (Plus, we’re sure it’ll be shipping with iOS 8.) Here’s what we’re likely to see:
Each new numbered iPhone model has brought significant case changes, and it’s a safe bet that this year will showcase another one. Based on a flurry of reports, it looks like Apple is going to modify its trademark shape for something a bit more akin to the iPod touch and iPad mini, sporting a slightly tapered design and extra rounded corners. Rumors are also calling for it to be significantly thinner than the iPhone 5s, while trimmings the thickness of the bezel even further. But don’t expect anything too radical — the home button is sticking around until at least the iPhone 7.
With the new design comes one giant change: the display. While it won’t be quite as large as the Galaxy S5 or HTC One M8, reports peg the iPhone 6 at around 4.7 inches, with a slightly-less-then-full-HD resolution of 1704-by-960. The extra screen real estate probably won’t be enough to fit another column of icons in our home screens, but it’ll certainly give developers more room to experiment with. Also rumored is an even bigger, phablet-sized phone clocking in at 5.5 inches; some have taken to calling the larger model the iPhone Air or the iPhone 6L. If it arrives, it might be timed a little later, possibly aligned with Apple’s annual iPad event.
Processor & Memory
Allegedly, the iPhone 6 will boast a brand-new A8 processor supplied by TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) and Samsung. The A7 chip in the iPhone 5s was revolutionary thanks to its 64-bit architecture, but the A8 will be even faster — likely more than 2GHz — and more powerful, although the dual-core design will likely stay intact. The reported improvements will be possible due to 20-nm process that replaces the 28-nm process used for the A7 chip. A leaked schematic indicates that the processor will include a component that’s code-named “Phosphorus.” Although Phosphorus was initally thought to be a motion coprocessor, it’s now commonly believed to be a barometric sensor, which could be used to help with GPS, weather, and health functions. Meanwhile, it’s rumored that the maximum storage capacity of the iPhone 6 could jump up to 128GB, up from the 64GB max of previous iPhones.
When Apple unveiled its Touch ID fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5s, the home button received a serious upgrade, with a stainless steel detection ring and, most importantly, a slick sapphire crystal covering. Now it seems that the scratch-resistant material is coming to the screen, too, as Apple and partner GT Advanced Technologies significantly ramped up sapphire production earlier this year, expanding operations in its Arizona plant far more than would be needed for a few million home buttons. If a leaked video is to be believed, the sapphire glass allows the display a good deal of flexibility without breakage.
Reports about the iPhone 6’s timing have been all over the place, but most of them suggest the phone will be hitting sometime in September or October. A big reveal event is slated for Sept. 9, and although Apple hasn’t officially said that iPhone 6 will be shown there, it’s almost a certainty. Coupled with the rumor that Apple has been blocking Apple Store employee vacations in September (traditionally a sign that something big is on the way), it seems possible that the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 could hit Sept. 19, though some Apple watchers even think it might arrive even sooner. In fact, reports out of China indicate that the phone is ready to enter mass production. As for the larger 5.5-inch version, reports are all over the place, and there’s speculation that it might not even arrive until 2015. However, a Thailand government official recently announced he gave approval to two models of iPhone 6 being sold in his country, which indicates they could be released simultaneously. The one thing you can count on, however, is that demand will be through the roof, so you might want to start staking out your spot in line now.
According to rumors, the iPhone 6 will feature greatly enhanced photography capabilities thanks to the use of a Sony Exmor IMX220 camera sensor, which is a significant upgrade from the older IXM145 featured on the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 models. The 1/2.3-inch sensor is said to pack 13 megapixels capable of recording 1080p videos with a resolution sampling of 3840 x 1080.
Apple has thus far resisted the temptation of near field communication — despite rampant rumors that seem to pop up around this time every year — but it looks like the technology might actually make its way into the iPhone 6. Adding a bit of credence to the speculation this time around is a report that Apple is in talks with banking providers and retailers to seamlessly integrate a proprietary payment service into PassBook and the iPhone. We wouldn’t be surprised to see nothing come of it, but it’s definitely a stronger possibility than it’s ever been.
Aside from its new design and updated specs, the iPhone usually has a killer new feature that gets everyone talking. Last year it was Touch ID, and if the rumors are right, this year it will be wireless changing. Most likely it’ll be via a charging mat that still needs to come into physical contact with the phone, but we’re holding out hope for a true Apple solution that requires no wires whatsoever — either through tiny solar panels or some kind of internal kinetic wizardry.
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