Apple’s iPhone 5s and 5c launch marked some noteworthy firsts for the company. It was the first time Apple offered two new handsets at the same time, and it’s also the only time we’ve seen so many color choices, including gold. More important, the iPhone 5s became the world’s first smartphone capable of 64-bit computing. Apple’s next major release, likely to be called the iPhone 6, promises to to be bigger and better. From a larger phablet-sized display to new camera features, here’s a roundup of all of the most believable rumors so far.
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.”
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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.
Say goodbye to cracked iPhone screens. Apple recently opened a new manufacturing plant in Mesa, Arizona for producing sapphire crystal displays, meaning the iPhone 6′s screen could be much more durable and scratch resistant than current models. The facility could pump out as many as 116 million 5-inch displays per year, as 9to5Mac reports.
The iPhone 6′s purported sapphire screen has gotten into the hands of a few users, and touts some impressive durability to boot. Youtuber Marques Brownlee put the display through the ringer, as he was able to scrape, bend and even stab the screen with no noticeable damage to be found.
Brownlee put the purported iPhone 6 display through its paces again in a follow-up video, this time vigorously rubbing the screen with both garnet and emery sandpaper. The display does eventually get scratched by the garnet sandpaper, which suggests that the iPhone 6′s durable display isn’t pure sapphire. However, the panel’s Touch ID home button doesn’t see a single scratch and could be pure sapphire, suggesting that Apple wants the iPhone’s fingerprint reader to be as secure and functional as possible.
Apple fans have been hoping for a Liquidmetal iPhone since the company acquired Liquidmetal Technologies in 2010. Now, about four years later, Apple may be closer to reaching an iPhone design based on such materials. In January 17 patents were published that outlined various applications for Liquidmetal technology related to mobile devices. According to the documents, Liquidmetal could be used to improve the pressure sensors in the iPhone’s home button, the touch sensors in the display and the binding components used to hold the phone together. The collection of patents aren’t directly linked to Apple just yet, but the inventors listed are Apple employees that have been involved in the company’s work with Liquidmetal alloys in the past, as MacRumors notes.
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 sport a 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.
AppleInsider says that the iPhone 6 could come with optical image stabilization like the LG G2 and Nokia Lumia 1020. In other words, it should be easier to avoid shaky images and video footage while moving.
A more recent rumor posted by the Chinese website IT168 Mobile and reported by MacRumors points to the iPhone 6 having a larger 10-MP sensor with a f/1.8 aperture lens. The same report further claims that the iPhone 6 will feature a resin lens filter rather than the hybrid IR filter found on the iPhone 5s. If Apple produces two versions of the iPhone 6 as it did with the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, the high-end version could get the 10-MP camera, while the budget-friendly model may keep the older phone’s 8-MP sensor.
Apple also recently patented a new kind of camera technology that uses two separate image sensors to capture a single photo. According to the filing, one sensor would capture luma data (brightness), while the other would capture chroma data (color). The data would then be combined to form one image. The technology is expected to allow Apple to make thinner cameras, and by extension, thinner iPhones.
You may even be able to swap out the iPhone 6′s camera lens. According to a recent USPTO patent, Apple has secured the right to use a “bayonet” mechanism that would allow for easily interchangeable camera lenses on a future Apple smartphone.
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 a patent 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.
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.
Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 6 this fall, which would mark one year after the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c were announced. The upcoming device has been given a handful of rumored September release dates, including Sept. 25 and Sept. 19. The latter seems a bit more believable, as Apple traditionally launches new handsets on Fridays. A recently leaked Chinese flyer also points to a Sept. 19 launch date, adding more weight to what would be a pretty usual release date for an iPhone.
We might have to wait a bit longer to get our hands on the 5.5-inch model, or the “iPhone Air” as some suppliers are calling it. Because of production difficulties, the purported phablet-style iPhone could launch a month after the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, and could be delayed to as late as 2015.