Two Models, Two Sizes
The iPhone 6 is slated to become Apple’s biggest iPhone ever, and could come in two distinct flavors. Most rumors are pointing to a 4.7-inch variation that would bring the iPhone closer in size to competitors like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8. There’s also a purported 5.5-inch phablet style iPhone in the pipeline, for users who want a super-sized iPhone or an iPad Mini that’s even more, well… mini. If these rumors hold up, this year will be the first time Apple launches two distinctly different form factors of its flagship smartphone. According to a recent report out of China, the 4.7-inch model will don the “iPhone 6″ moniker, with the 5.5-inch variation being dubbed the “iPhone Air.”
Initial rumors indicated the iPhone 6 might have a curved display, but more recent rumors suggest the device will continue to have a flat screen much like the iPhone 5s. It may, however, have a slightly tapered glass front panel that allows the display to transition seamlessly into the sides, as described in a report from Nikkei and pictured in a front panel part leak.Advancements in LED back-lighting may allow Apple to design a thinner, lighter iPhone 6. Apple is reportedly shifting from an 0.6mm LED back-light to a thinner 0.4mm model, giving it a bit of extra room to work with. Apple is also said to be using a single brightness enhancement film (BEF) instead of a dual version as used in the iPhone 5s, which will increase device thinness further.The increased size of the device (or multiple devices) may also give Apple additional room to spread out components, allowing the company to reduce device thickness even further, and it could be nearly as thin as the iPod touch.Schematics for a 4.7 and 5.7-inch iPhone surfaced in March, from Japanese magazine MacFan. Said to depict the “iPhone 6c,” the schematics showed a flat, bezel-free device with several questionable design elements, including a sleep/wake located on the left-top of the device and single LED-flash not in line with the existing pill-shaped True Tone flash.These design drawings have been used to create multiple iPhone 6 mockups, many of which can be seen below.
The mockups all demonstrate iPod touch-style design elements such as rounded edges and similar microphone holes, along with thick antenna breaks. The unsightly antenna breaks that have thus far been seen on mockups may be due to poor quality materials and may not be as obvious on the finalized device.
The iPhone 5 and 5s were the first smartphones to launch with Apple’s first 64-bit processor, the company’s A7 chip. According to rumors, the handset maker is pushing the envelope even further with its iPhone 6 by including a blazing fast 20-nanometer quad-core, 64-bit A8 CPU. If the rumors are true, the iPhone 6 would be the first iPhone to pack a quad-core processor. Reports suggest that the next iPhone will also have quad-core graphics, making it one of the most powerful smartphones–if not the most powerful–on the market. We can’t wait to test the iPhone 6 versus the Galaxy S5’s Snapdragon 801 chip.
Apple’s iOS updates generally happen along iPhone launches, which means the iPhone 6 is likely to ship with iOS 8. Previewed at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June, iOS 8 introduces several new features that improve integration between Apple’s mobile and desktop devices.Along with tools to allow for seamless transitions of tasks between iPhones, iPads, and Macs, iOS 8 also includes improved Message management tools, interactive notifications, a revamped “QuickType” keyboard, iCloud Drive access, and an all new health and fitness aggregation app, called simply “Health.”
The iPhone 6’s display isn’t only expected to grow in size; it should see a long overdue resolution bump as well. According to a report from 9to5Mac, Apple is testing a 4.7-inch version of the iPhone 6 with a 1704 x 960 display, which would be a big improvement over the 5s’ 4-inch, 1136 x 640 display. An older report from DisplaySearch notes that the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 will 1600 x 900 display, with the 5.5-inch model packing a sharper 1920 x 1080 resolution. Of course, this is merely a projection, so there’s no telling whether or not we’ll actually see an improved display resolution on the next iPhone. But if Apple does decide to breach the phablet territory with a 5-inch or bigger display, it’s pretty much a lock that we’ll see more pixels. Developers will also need to optimize their apps.
The majority of rumors have pointed towards a fall release of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, followed by a launch of the 5.5-inch version towards the end of the year or in early 2015. Recent rumors have disagreed somewhat on the launch status of the 5.5-inch iPhone, however, with analyst Ming-Chi Kuo pointing towards a delay due to ongoing production issues and Bloomberg suggesting that production issues have been largely solved, making a simultaneous release a possibility.The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 is said to be entering production in July, while the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 may not enter production until August. Rumors have suggested Apple partner Foxconn is hiring 100,000 additional employees to help assemble the device.Though the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 might be delayed, Apple may be planning to reveal the larger device alongside the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, shipping the bigger version at a later date or in very limited quantities.As it has done for the past two years, Apple will likely launch the iPhone 6 at an event in early September, shipping the device later in the month on a corresponding Friday approximately a week after the launch event.
Near Field Communication (NFC) technology has been available on Android phones for years, and Apple might finally be playing catch up with an NFC-enabled iPhone 6. Apple received apatent for NFC technology in January 2014, and a report from Brightwire notes that the smartphone giant has established a deal with a Chinese bank company for mobile payments via NFC. This tech isn’t limited to transactions, however, and an NFC-enabled iPhone would have the potential to transfer files or send a document to print with just a quick physical tap.
Air Pressure Sensor
The next iPhone could double as a pocket-sized weatherman. According to a report from 9to5Mac, Apple’s upcoming iOS 8 software includes code for tracking altitude and ambient pressure. However, when tested with this code, an iPhone 5s was unable to provide such measurements, which leads us to believe that the iPhone 6 could launch with a barometer for measuring air pressure and altitude. This technology would make a nice complement to iOS 8′s upcoming Health app, especially for those exercising outdoors.
For the iPhone 5S Apple upped the physical size of its 8-megapixel sensor, meaning that each pixel gets more light, but it didn’t add more resolution. For the iPhone 6 Apple needs another improvement, with several options open. Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) was one possibility raised early in the game, with the technology used to reduce blur caused by camera shake. The first information came from The China Post, quoting from Nomura Securities, stating that Apple “may adopt an 8 mega-pixel (MP) camera with improved optical image stabilization on its upcoming handset, instead of the 16 MP upgrade anticipated by industry observers”. There may be differences in camera capability between the two iPhone 6 models, though. According to KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, reported by AppleInsider, only the 5.5in model will have OIS technology built in. This is largely down to size, price and yields, with Apple likely only to have enough OIS components to fit the larger phone. It would also allow Apple to distinguish between the two products more easily. For the 4.7in iPhone 6, Apple is said to be installing a new “middle-mount open-loop voice coil motor” to control its camera. This is an upgrade from the component used in the iPhone 5S, which should allow for faster and more accurate focusing, plus it will use less power.
However, it remains to be seen how well it will compete against the latest Android phones, which use even faster closed-loop voice coil motors.In terms of sensor resolution, Kuo believes that both phones will use a Sony-manufactured 8 megapixel sensor, similar to the existing one for the iPhone 5S. Apple may also be considering going in a completely different direction. Reported by 9to5Mac, a patent has been granted to Apple for a light-field camera, allowing people to refocus their shots after they’ve been taken. The technology works by capturing light fields, rather than a single 2D capture of the moment. The net result is that a photo is no longer a fixed capture, but one where you can select a part of the picture to completely refocus the image.We’ve already seen the technology in use with the Lytro Light Field camera. It’s an interesting product, using software to let you choose the point of focus after the image has already been capture. The HTC One (m8) also has similar technology. Similar technology is also in the HTC One (m8).
The 4.7in version is said to have a battery of between 1,800mAh and 1,900mAh, while the larger 5.5in version is said to have a much larger 2,500mAh battery. Compared to the 1,560mAh battery installed in the iPhone 5S, that’s an increase of between 15 and 20 per cent over the iPhone 5S for the smaller iPhone 6, and a 60 per cent increase for the larger model. We wouldn’t get too excited, though. The biggest power drain on a phone is the screen and a larger screen uses a lot more power. As a result, we’re expecting both iPhone 6 models to retain the same battery life as the iPhone 5S, with the possibility of a small improvement, based on a more efficient Apple A8 SoC.