iPhone 6 – A Complete-Ish Guide
September has arrived and in the world of Apple that can only mean one thing, the new iPhone is due to turn up. Not to mention a plethora of other devices and software updates; as we lead up to the holiday season September is undoubtedly Apple’s action packed month. This is by no means a detailed run down of iPhone 6 rumours, but it is aimed at giving a picture of what to expect.
Rumours about the iPhone 6 have swirled since the before the current iPhone hit the market but in recent months, as ever, rumours have reached fever pitch. And as with previous years Apple appears to have been unable to keep a lid on the vast supply chain that manufactures the devices with every single component being leaked in some form and more rarely some have managed to piece together a device and get it working.
Apple has confirmed that it will hold a media event on September 9, a date that falls in line with previous announcements. However, the venue is considerably larger than other used and Apple appears to be planning a particularly special show. Many are expecting the company to announce another wearable device at the same event, for now we’ll stay focused on the iPhone.
Two iPhones, Three iPhones, Four?
One the most consistent rumours leading up to September has been that Apple will release two models of iPhone, both with larger screens than the current iPhone 5s. The most consistently rumoured sizes are 4.7-inch, and 5.5-inch. No leaked parts suggest that Apple has any plan to continue manufacturing an iPhone with a plastic shell, and no rumours have pointed towards a continuation of devices with the current 4-inch display. This would suggest Apple will stick to just having 4.7- and 5.5-inch iPhones on the market, but could supplement the lower end market with the current iPhone 5S, or put the case of the current iPhone 5c around iPhone 5s components.
With the 4.7- and 5.5-inch models all but confirmed it’s been the focus of much debate about what resolutions the displays will turn up in. Blogger John Gruber threw his weight (and maths) behind the idea that the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 will feature a 1334 x 750 pixel display at 326 pixels per inch while the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 will have a resolution of 2208 x 1242 with 461 pixels per inch. The current iPhone 5s features a 4-inch display of 1136 x 640 at 326ppi.
However, other rumours and guesses have suggested various other resolutions. The most notable of those was a claim from an individual in possession of a display for the iPhone 4.7-inch, the display which showed roughly 13 pixels per mm would suggest a resolution of 1472 x 828 at 355 ppi.
A lot of rumour has also focused on what will cover the display components. For years iPhones have made use of durable Gorilla Glass that is highly resistant to scratching but, as with all glass, is susceptible to smashing when exposed to sharp blows. With recent iPhones Apple began using Sapphire crystal, for example to cover the camera lens and the home button on the iPhone 5s.
Rumours at the start of the year seemed to suggest that Apple’s partner GT Advanced was looking to significantly ramp up production of sapphire crystal but disagreement has risen about whether Apple will use sapphire across the entire range or just for “higher-end” models. A recent Wall Street Journal article stated that Apple use the display material on the higher end 4.7- and 5.5-inch devices, it failed to explain what higher end meant in this context.
Whilst on the wild end of the rumours spectrum, this author has recently heard that Apple has at least explored the idea of a display with solar charging capabilities. Upon further research it appears that the rumour has surfaced in January of this year, but after corroboration the sources appear separate.
Without doubt the outer case is the first part to leak, and no surprise when case manufacturers are turning in billions of dollars worth of protective case sales so being first to the market is key.
The cases for the 4.7- and 5.5-inch models appears identical in leaks, other than the obvious increase in size. The larger model appears to have a slightly thicker case though. The final dimensions seem set to be as follows, 4.7-inch: 6.9 mm thick, 138 mm long, and 66 mm wide; 5.5-inch iPhone 6 is said to be 7.1 mm thick, 158 mm long, and 78 mm wide. The current iPhone is 7.6mm thick.
The case is almost fully aluminium with the antenna bands marked out in a lighter coloured rubber, there is no longer any glass on the back and the only other markings are the traditional Apple logo cutout and the camera and flash. The camera lens appears now too thick for the case and may stick out a little.
Rumours disagree on the improvements heading for the iPhone 6, many suggest that the current 8 megapixel sensor used in the iPhone 5s will make its way to the iPhone 6, another singular rumour suggested a 13 megapixel sensor could arrive. Either way MPs are a poor measure of a camera.
In other camera improvements it could be that Apple looks to build in Optical Image Stabilisation that works in conjunction with the position sensing gyroscope. This would allow for considerably sharper photos and video, particularly in low light.
Again, this feature has rumoured to only land in the 5.5-inch model.
In recent years Apple has made significant improvements to the iPhone camera using either software or technology that is difficult to discern in factory leaks.
The specification of the new iPhones are not so easy to track down, but a recent flurry of leaks from the supply chain have supplied a surprisingly accurate range of data.
The biggest focus of attention is of course what processor Apple will use. The current iPhone makes use of a Apple’s A7 system on chip (SoC) powered by a 64-bit ARMv8 1.3-1.4GHz dual-core CPU. It looks like the iPhone 6 will make the jump to an Apple A8 featuring a 20nm manufacturing process, making it extremely power efficient. It’s difficult to gauge the specs of an unreleased SoC as Apple has tighter control on the parts but rumours suggest that the A8 will be a dual-core 2.0GHz with 1GB of RAM on board. That 1GB RAM figure would mean the iPhone 6 remains at the same number as the current iPhone 5s.
With gaming being a strong element of the iOS ecosystem it has become important for Apple to focus on the graphics capabilities of devices. Rumours point towards Apple continuing to use the same graphics as the iPhone 5s, a PowerVR G6430 GPU. But there are very few rumours circling around this particular element.
There are also few rumours around the storage capabilities of the iPhone 6. The current iPhone 5s ranges from 16GB to 64GB with many complaining about the limits. This may change with the introduction of iOS 8 and the change to the way photos are stored on the iPhone with them now primarily sitting in the cloud with low resolution thumbnails residing on the phone itself.
However, some rumours suggest Apple may bump the storage capacity of the iPhone to 128GB, in line with recent updates to the iPad. Some leaks have also spotted 16GB storage chips though, this may suggest that Apple could begin differentiating iPhones by storage size and screen size with some suggesting the 128GB model will only be available with the 5.5-inch model.
With the iPhone 5s Apple introduced the M7 coprocessor, capable of offloading data collection from the CPU. Currently the M7 tracks what a user is doing in terms of movement such as driving, walking, running, or sleeping. Upgrades in the iPhone 6 could see the addition of a atmospheric sensor offering details on current weather conditions like pressure and altitude data.
There’s been a number of other rumours that have pointed to numerous sensors making their way into the iPhone 6, capable of detecting temperature and humidity, altimetry, spirometry—a measurement of lung capacity.
With a bigger device comes a bigger battery, although Apple has a habit of spreading out components in an effort to create thinner devices. However, rumours suggest Apple will make some improvements to the size of the batteries included with the iPhone 6, improvements may be unnoticeable though with larger displays on board too.
The current iPhone 5s battery is rated at 1560 mAh, compared that to a whopping 2800 mAh in the Samsung Galaxy S5 and there’s a reason Samsung shout from the rooftops about battery life.
NFC or not?
I almost have to count of two hands the number of times we’ve got close to the release of an iPhone and a rumour has popped up about the inclusion of NFC technology (here’s a good example from 2011).
The case for Apple to jump on board with NFC hasn’t changed much though. Whilst a rumour suggests Apple has negotiated deals with big banks (now MasterCard and Visa too!) it is still unclear why Apple would pursue this route, other than the potential lucrative market of playing middle man to millions of transactions. It’s worth noting that Apple upgraded some pay terminals in US Apple Stores to NFC capable earlier in the year.
Contactless payments via a physical card and an NFC capable terminal are extremely popular in Europe with some 45 million contactless cards in circulation in the UK alone.
Apple has confirmed the event for September 9, and whilst we don’t know for sure that this is the iPhone event. All signs point to yes.
Traditionally following announcement the iPhone models would make their way to market within a week and a half, usually on a Friday. Which would land us on September 19. However, long standing rumours have suggested that only the 4.7-inch model will see a release on this date with a 5.5-inch model coming towards the end of the year, with some rumours suggesting early 2015.
Apple’s event will begin at 10am Pacific (6PM London) time on September 9, it’s not yet known whether Apple will offer a live video stream.
If we thought iPhone 6 rumours were at fever pitch then iWatch rumours are super sonic pitch. However the field is far more scattered and there is yet to be a signal part of design leaked. There will however be an a summary of rumours at some point, so watch this space.