iPhone 6 release date, specs, design and features: Bigger, Better, Faster, Stronger
Everything we know about Apple’s next-generation iPhone 6, including specs, release date rumours, and features
Whenever Apple releases a new iPhone, talk immediately turns to what the next model will be like, what type of spec it’ll use and how it will carry the iPhone brand forwards. The next big smartphone from Apple is currently referred to as the iPhone 6, although it’s entirely possible Apple could drop the number convention on its next flagship, just as it did with the iPad Air.
The handset itself – whatever it is eventually called – isn’t likely to launch until fairly late on in 2014, meaning we have around 12 months of waiting. That’s a long time in tech, even more so when you consider Apple hardly touched the design of its most recent handset, the iPhone 5s.
No other manufacturer makes punters wait two years for a redesigned handset. No other manufacturer, in all likelihood, could probably get away with it. Apple does because it’s Apple – the company is kind of a law unto itself in this regard. Say what you want about Apple, but the sales figures (9 million sales during opening weekend) speak for themselves.
As far as we can tell the iPhone 6’s big USPs are likely to be the overall design of the handset, its display, the chipset and potentially a new means of unlocking the device with a new security feature designed to compliment the existent TouchID aboard the 5s.
We’ll also likely see iOS 7 updated to iOS 8, just don’t expect many visual changes, and hopefully an extension of Apple’s iBeacons technology into a wider ecosystem of products. For most though the big deal will likely be the redesigned chassis and potentially larger display.
Below is everything we currently know about the iPhone 6 ahead of its 2014 launch. We’ll be editing this article from time to time, amending aspects, adding new leaks and stories, as well as removing ones that turn out to be false or just complete BS.
Apple patents Curved Display technology. Will it debut aboard iPhone 6?
It's long been rumoured, but we may just have the first proof that Apple is working on a curved screen for the iPhone 6. Apple recently filed a patent for a 'curved touch sensor', which would allow it to adopt curved screen technology (think the LG G Flex or the Samsung Round).
Apple's patent suggests they would take a slightly different approach to the technology, placing the different components onto a flat surface before heating and curving it as a single entity.
Or, as Apple Insider explains it: "To avoid deformation due to the annealing process, the patent proposes a technique that deposits a conductive thin film over a flexible substrate while it is in a flat state. Once the electrodes are in place, the substrate package is joined to a curved "forming substrate" and subsequently heated. The process results in a non-deformed curved touch sensor stackup with a thin film that benefits from the high-temperature anneal. "
iPad fans or those waiting for the release of the iWatch shouldn't fear though - this patent covers use of the technology in iPads and smaller, watch-sized, devices too.
The news comes after a source told Bloomberg that Apple is working on TWO curved handsets with larger screen. However, we have to add a caveat: there's no guarantee that Apple will make use of this patent at all, or if it does use the patent, that it will be for the iPhone 6.
What to expect from Apple's iPhone 6
Lately everyone I know has been asking me what the iPhone 6 will be like. I know, I know: the iPhone 5s and 5c just came out. But still, that doesn’t stop everyone on the planet from speculating about what’s coming next.
This is the tech world after all, and you’re only as good as your latest product for about four weeks. Yes, the iPhone 5c is awesome in all its colored plastic glory and the flagship iPhone 5s is pretty incredible with its M7 motion co-processor, its A7 primary processor, and of course the Touch ID fingerprint reader –– but in our chronically dissatisfied society those technologies are already yesterday's news. So what’s coming in the iPhone 6? Read on to find out.
iPhone 6: Display and form factor
First let me state that this is all speculation and conjecture on my part. But given where Apple has come from and where technology in general is heading, it’s reasonable to assume some basic features of the next iPhone as “givens”––starting with the display and form-factor.
You can bet the iPhone 6 will have a larger display. This will probably take the form of a 4.8-inch “Retina+” Sharp IGZO display with full 1080p resolution. The new display will necessitate an entirely new form factor for the iPhone 6 –– so expect the body to look physically different that the iPhone 5 and 5s.
But just because the iPhone 6 might use a 4.8-inch display, it doesn’t mean that the iPhone 6 would be that much wider than the current iPhone 5s. Knowing Apple, they’ll push hardware engineering to the fullest to get a virtual edge-to-edge display into the iPhone so it still fits in comfortably with one-handed use.
It’s also likely that an iPhone 6 would have a thinner body approaching, but perhaps not quite equaling the thinness of the iPod Touch.
If Apple does come out with an iPhone 6 with a larger display, it’s likely that the current iPhone 5s might stick around and Apple could merge the 5s with the 5c and make one line of 4-inch iPhones that combine the features of both: colored bodies, Touch ID, and the latest processors.
iPhone 6: M7X and A7X processors
I’m not so certain Apple will have A8 processors next year, as it’s hard to outdo the 64-bit A7 in just one generation. What will probably happen is the iPhone 6 will sport an upgraded A7 – the A7X – with better cache and graphics handling.
The big processor bump will come from the current M7 motion co-processor. By the time the iPhone 6 rolls around with its new M7X, the motion co-processor will be even more power efficient and be able to offload more tasks from the A7X, which will help overall performance.
iPhone 6: iOS 8
Yes, iOS 8 is a given. But it won’t look any different than iOS 7. One of the biggest features of iOS 8 will be Maps – Apple is working hard behind the scenes on this as you read.
iOS 8 will also probably sport integrated mobile payments software, something I’ll get to in a bit.
iPhone 6: Battery
Look, no matter what anyone ever says, the most important technology for any mobile device is the battery – because without a battery, your phone can’t function.
Though the iPhone has increased its battery life by about 10% each year, battery technology has actually increased greatly. The reason you don’t see 50% battery gain in your mobile devices is because each year we add more and more tech to our mobiles, which eats up even the bigger power reservoirs. If we didn’t add more tech to our phone and, for example, you could put the iPhone 5s’ battery into the original iPhone, that iPhone would probably run for four or five days now without a recharge.
A 24-hour+ battery life on the iPhone is Apple’s Holy Grail. Will it happen with the iPhone 6? Perhaps. A larger surface area (to fit a larger screen) means you can put a bigger battery in. It also means that screen needs to suck more power, however, which means any battery gains from the larger battery could be negligible.
But increased software optimizations in iOS 8 and increased hardware optimizations in the A7X, M7X and the IGZO display, may mean a bigger battery life increase than normal – perhaps as much as 20%.
iPhone 6: Mobile Payments
Apple usually relies on redesigned looks of solid number iPhone updates (iPhone 4, iPhone 5) to be the big selling point. Number/letter updates (iPhone 4S, iPhone 5s) see the same form factor, but added features (Siri on the 4S, Touch ID on the 5s).
With the iPhone 6, the display will no doubt be the big selling point. However it is entirely possible another huge feature will be mobile payments – although it probably won’t be NFC.
NFC is actually an “old” technology now and has never really caught on. Putting the technology in mobiles is no problem, but actually getting NFC registers into businesses is a logistical nightmare. NFC-equipped stations are costly, so why would most small businesses install them when cash and cards work just fine?
That could all change with iBeacons, however, which is Apple’s implementation of micro-location and data sharing using Bluetooth 4.0. Bluetooth 4.0 (also known as Bluetooth Low Energy, or BLE) receivers are very, very cheap to install in existing payment stations compared to NFC.
BLE is also more secure and uses less battery power. Combine all this with Apple’s then-mature Touch ID in the iPhone 6, and the possibility of a mobile payments solution for Apple seems very likely.
iPhone 6: 12MP+ camera
I’ve explained before how the quality of a digital photo relies on much more than a camera’s megapixels. The 8-megapixel iSight camera in the iPhone 5s actually takes better pictures than most 12-megapixel setups.
That being said, there is no ways Apple will stick with an 8-megapixel sensor in the iPhone 6. Apple’s been using 8-megapixel sensors since the iPhone 4S, so doing so would just look lazy.
Plus Sony and others are now producing 12 and 13-megapixel sensors that are actually thinner than the 8MP sensor found in current iPhones, which means Apple could easily fit a better sensor inside a thinner device.
iPhone 6: Storage
I would venture to say the 16GB storage option will be gone. 16GB isn't really enough for moderate smartphone users anymore. Expect the iPhone 6 to start at 32GB with 64GB and, yes, 128GB options.
iPhone 6 could bring facial recognition
Apple brought in a number of features with the iPhone 5S. One of these included the Touch ID fingerprint scanner which has received mixed reviews. In our review we said the fingerprint scanner works well but offers little benefit at present.
It looks like Apple will be taking this to the next level for the iPhone 6 though by building in a facial recognition feature. Apple has secured a patent which uses facial recognition for their devices and it’s likely to be deployed inside the company's next-gen iPhones.
The patent shows the handset would be able to recognise if its held by the owner. It will only offer certain features if it’s being held by the wrong person, and could protect vital areas such as information and the settings.
There are many issues with facial recognition, can you use a photograph to bypass it? If you pass your phone over to a mate will it automatically lock? Can you access your phone if the camera breaks? We’ll be sure to keep you up to date with details as it happens.
iPhone 6 Sapphire Glass super-tough display rumour resurfaces
Apple's iPhone 6 will reportedly feature a display fashioned from Sappire Glass, if rumours are to be believed. The extra-tough substance will allegedly mean it can survive being scraped and bashed against concrete with no real damage.
According to International Business Times, Apple has invested half a billion dollars into implementing Sapphire Glass screen technology, which has already appeared on the iPhone 5S's camera lens and Touch ID Home button.
Reports indicate the material is 2.5 times stronger than Gorilla Glass, which is currently used widely by the mobile industry but is still prone to cracking.
Speaking to IBTimes, marketing director of GT Advanced Technology said, "As a matter of fact, the sapphire glass can simply break pieces of concrete leaving no scratches on it." A bold claim to be sure.
Apparently Apple is still wrestling with large-scale production of Sapphire Glass panels and is also up against the difficulty of increased costs . It's an expensive material to work with, and some are concerned it could be a major contributing factor in driving up the price of the iPhone 6 compared to its predecessors. This is particular relevant considering the iPhone 6's display is said to be a larger panel than any previous iPhone and of course, more glass equals more money spent.
The report claims that Apple paid GT Advanced Technologies $578 million towards new fabrication technology, including large capacity "ASF furnaces" in order to help develop "low cost, high volume manufacturing of sapphire material."
iPhone 6 could allow you to dynamically change photo focus like a Lytro camera
Apple's latest intriguing patent suggests it may be prepping Lytro-like capabilities for the iPhone 6's camera.
If you're not aware of Lytro, it's a type of camera which allows you to capture an image and then dynamically select (and re-select) a focal point at a later date using something called "plenoptic" technology. The technology means photography can be far more of a "fire and forget" affair.
Apple's patent details a "digital camera including refocusable imaging mode adaptor", according to AppleInsider. While no specific mention has been made of the iPhone 6, Apple will need to continue to enhance its camera technology in order to remain competetive.
Previously, Apple has outlined that it would rather tweak its 8-megapixel iSight hardware for better performance than simply up the megapixel count, and it's an approach which has been met with plenty of critical acclaim for the iPhone 5S's impressive imaging capabilities.
According to Techradar, the patent "even makes reference to the Lytro camera as prior art but adds that certain adjustments can be made in the quality of picture."
It's known that before Steve Jobs died he met with Lytro's founder to discuss a partnetship and this patent was filed in September 2011, just before Jobs' death. Numerous reports indicate many of Apple's products released since Jobs passed away have been developed in accordance to roadmaps he already laid out and it's feasible the iPhone 6, complete with a Lytro-like camera, could be part of his posthumous plan.
iPhone 6 once again rumoured for Liquid Metal build, while Eye-tracking tech apparently confirmed by Apple acquisition of original Kinect creator PrimeSense.
A couple of recent happenings suggest Apple is pulling out all the stops to make the iPhone 6 (which some believe may be called the iPhone Air) one of the most technologically advanced smartphones ever made.
Patently Apple picked up on a couple of filings made by Apple for a Liquid Metal construction method. As usual with such filings, there's a lot of technical talk and a lot of vague suggestions about what the tech "could" be used for, which is pretty much any electronic consumer device you care to think of. But, it is possible Apple could use the manufacturing process, which may incorporate the use of 3D printing, to create the iPhone 6.
The process essentially involves fusing together multiple layers of Liquid Metal material into one hardened shell.
In a different but no less significant area, Apple's acquisition of 3D motion sensor company PrimeSense has been confirmed. PrimeSense is an Israeli motion sensor company which originally developed the Xbox 360's Kinect motion sensor device.
Apple confirmed the deal to CNET while PrimeSense's reps also confirmed it to Engadget, but both companies have declined to comment further at this stage.
What are the ramifications of this? Well analysts are taking it as a sign that those rumours of an Apple eye-tracking function could very well be a reality on the iPhone 6. It could also potentially mean a range of other gesture and motion based control inputs. Since Kinect, PrimeSense is known to have been working primarily on mobile sensor solutions.
Apple’s iPhone 6 may have 4.9-inch display?
The latest rumours surrounding the Apple iPhone 6 seem to suggest it will increase the screen size from the current 4-inch display on the iPhone 5 series.
According to an insider tip to C Technology, Apple are working on a prototype which will significantly increase the display to 4.9-inches.
It is unclear at this time whether the prototype is a reworking of the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C models or is what we presume to be called the iPhone 6.
The word is that Apple is looking to increase the display size on the entire range of iPhone products, but much can change considering the iPhone 5S and 5C models are less than three months old.
iPhone 6 could cost a pretty penny - may be more expensive than iPhone 5S
We've all heard the rumours about the iPhone 6 - that it'll be a phablet, that it'll come out in June and might have specs so good we can't even imagine them. So far, so good. But now the rumours have begun to focus on price - and specifically worries that Apple (who aren't exactly the company for people who like to sit in the cheap seats) will make the iPhone 6 the most expensive iPhone yet.
According to Phones Review, the "cost of new upgraded components is leading some to worry about the iPhone 6 having a higher price point)."
In the US, the iPhone 5S had a starting price of $199 on contract (the same as the iPhone 5) - but the company then discontinued the iPhone 5 and launched a cheaper alternative, the iPhone 5c, instead of cutting the price of the iPhone 5. It's this behaviour which has worried Phones Review, which points out that the iPhone 6's rumoured specs are both mind-blowing and wuold utilise cutting-edge parts which are very, very expensive.
"In recent weeks and months there have been reports that the iPhone 6 is very likely to step up in display size to bring it more in line with Samsung’s flagship devices. It’s also looking probable that the iPhone 6 will have a new A8 20 nm processor. Another prospect is that the use of sapphire glass will be expanded further and that the iPhone 6 could have a sapphire display, while the possibility of a curved display has also been reported", reports the publication.
This means that when the iPhone 6 does come out, it's looking like it will be introduced with a higher starting price than the 5S. Phones Review estimates it could be between $50-100 dollars in the US - which means pounds more in the UK.
iPhone 6 Features
Following on from the dual iPhone 5s/iPhone 5c launch earlier this year, Apple will follow suit in 2014 and release two large-form iPhone handsets side-by-side, according to reports from both Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal. Both iPhone handsets will be larger than existing models and feature OLED displays, a significant change that Cult of Mac has also picked up on, pointing to Universal Display Corporation’s stock shooting up 25% last week.
Up to now all of Apple’s mobile products have used LCD displays. Going forwards it’s looking increasingly likely OLED will be the future just as many pundits, analysts and market watchers have long predicted.
“Citing a person familiar with the plans, Bloomberg said Apple is developing iPhones with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens – larger than the current 4-inch display – that curve downward at the edges. These models, according to the report, are being prepared for release in the second half of next year,” reports the WSJ.
The new display tech inside 2014’s iPhone handsets will also feature best-in-class touchscreen technology, according to the report. The iPhone 6 has also been linked with curved OLED displays, although whether we’ll see this type of device next year is another thing entirely –– the tech is very new and Apple doesn’t move particularly fast with stuff like this.
What’s more likely is Apple using advanced OLED panels, potentially unbreakable ones, inside next year’s flagship handset, which may or may not be called the iPhone 6. Expect the iPhone 6 to be bigger but don’t go getting upset if it isn’t bendy.
Will it be a Phablet?
Apple has to order millions of components for production and certain analysts and market-watchers have a knack for spotting these “orders”. Most recently Brian White, of Cantor Fitzgerald, suggested there was a "bigger iPhone" in the works that has been in development for over a year.
DisplaySearch, an excellent source for accurate predictions about Apple’s forthcoming products, recently published the following table, detailing the display technology we’ll see inside Apple’s 2014 products.
|Current Product||Display||New Product||Display||Timing|
|iPhone 5||4” 1136×640||iPhone 6||4.7” 1280×720; 5.7” 1920×1080||Q2’14|
|iPad||9.7” 2048×1536||iPad 5||9.7” 2048×1536; portrait mode, slim bezel||Q4’13|
|New iPad||12.9” 2732×2048||2014|
|iPad mini||7.9” XGA||iPad mini 2||7.9” 2048×1536; portrait mode||Q4’13|
|MacBook Air||13.3” 1440×900||MacBook Air (new)||12” 2304×1440; low power||2014|
|Apple TV||55”, 65” 4Kx2K 120Hz LCD||Q3’14|
|iWatch||1.3”/1.63” 320×320 flexible AMOLED||Q4’14|
Analyst Peter Misek of Jeffries has also suggested the iPhone 6 will have a 4.8inch display, based on his recent meetings with Apple suppliers in Asia. While Misek's note to investors did not detail precisely why he believes Apple will stamp a significant 0.8 of an inch onto its exisiting 4-inch display design he did add that the current popularity of larger-screened smartphones would drive sales and upgrades to unprecedented levels.
"We think the 85 million iPhones eligible for an upgrade when the iPhone 6 launches (we think Apple is targeting Sep 2014) could be boosted by another 5-10 million from people who skipped the 5S/5C cycle," he said.
iPhone 6 [AIR] concept details how 4.6-inch display could work
Apple’s next-generation iPhone, which may or may not be called the iPhone 6, is scheduled for launch in late-2014. Following on from 2013’s iPhone 5s, the iPhone 6 – or iPhone Air, as it’s called in this concept video – is believed to be the first iPhone handset to ship with a larger, full HD, display.
Sources and analysts claim Apple is already experimenting with larger iPhone designs and that we could see two new iPhones launched in 2014 – one phablet-sized device (5-inches and up) and one slightly larger than normal (4.7-inches).
Apple’s S-updates are usually incremental, adding in new spec and features, but largely remain unchanged in the design department as per the iPhone 4s, iPhone 5s, and iPhone 3Gs. With the iPhone 6 – as with the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 – we’re likely to see some big design changes, and the most obvious is likely to be the inclusion of a larger Retina display.
We won’t know what it looks like until Tim Cook walks out on stage with one – or both of the new handsets – or the leaks start appearing online. So until then we’ll have to sate our iPhone 6 lust with concept designs, which are often better than the real deal anyways.
Take this one from DeviantART contributor BrightKnight08: it’s called the iPhone Air, features a 4.6-inch display with a pixel density of 441ppi, and there’s no physical home button. Instead it uses a backlit proximity sensor.
“There’s no more silent switch to toggle as this button is moved to the top, and is now a dual silence/power button. The artist says to power off the iPhone Air we’ll need to long-press the new dual button,” reports GearBurn.
Check out the iPhone Air concept video below:
iPhone 6 display could be a lot more sensitive
Is it possible your next iPhone might have a pressure sensitive touch screen? If one of Apple’s latest patent filings is anything to go against, then perhaps it will.
The patent in question, titled "Touch-sensitive button with two levels," describes technology Apple has invented that allows the touchscreen to detect different amounts of pressure exerted upon it.
Applications—and iOS—built to take advantage of this pressure sensitive touch screen could then start executing commands based on how hard a person is touching the screen. One example of this could be a heavy touch, which generates a lot of pressure, could tell an app or button to bring up an advanced set of features or menus, while lighter touches on the same button could have it display fewer or less complex feature sets or menus.
Games could take the pressure sensitive touch screen even further. Imagine playing a first person shooter on your iPhone. Light, normal taps from your finger would let you shoot bullets from your revolver, while harder, more pressure-intensive taps would automatically switch you to —and fire—your grenade launcher.
In short, a pressure sensitive touch screen could solve the limited screen real-estate problem UI developers have with working on four-inch smartphone screens. If you need fewer buttons because the existing ones can have dual functions based on how hard the user touches them, you’ll have more space on the screen for displaying what really matters—the content of the app, be it 3D levels in a video game or the canvas in a painting application.
Apple has ploughed around $578 million into a deal with GT Advanced, the company behind Apple’s TouchID component, to build a new factory in Arizona that’ll employ some 700 people and produce sapphire-based build materials. Apple’s TouchID is constructed from sapphire and is currently in very short-supply, which is probably why it didn’t make an appearance aboard the iPad Air and iPad Mini 2–– something a new factory would likely remedy.
However there appears to be more to the story than meets the eye, with reports suggesting Apple may begin using the blue-stuff to make displays for future iPhone and iPad devices. Sapphire is pretty much indestructible, the perfect Apple antidote to all those flexible OLEDs…
“Sapphire is increasingly being used as a screen material in prototypes and high-end phones, and having a major supply of the blue stuff could hint at the Californian company using it for iPhone and iPad displays,” reports CNET.
You, the iPhone 6 and your wheels
The iPhone 6 may feature technology that allows you to adjust your car from your iDevice.
The patent, filed on the United States Patent and Trademark Office shows the ability to tune the radio into your preferred station, adjust mirrors and seat position so if you share a car, you can make it perfect for your needs with the tap of a screen.
Features you will be able to change include the mirrors, seat and steering wheel position, so whether you share a car with a partner/husband/wife/friend or you use a hire car on a regular basis, it can certainly take the pain out of changing your settings every time you get in the car.
The patent says, 'A user's portable electronic device can learn configuration preferences from a first environment, such as the user's car, and when the user visits another similar environment, such as a rented automobile, those configuration preferences can be imported into the visited environment and used to automatically configure the environment according to the imported preferences.'
As we mentioned before, the screen has been subject to a lot of discussion. Some think Apple needs to take the jump into phablet territory (Galaxy Note, Xperia Z Ultra to name two) and although this is a distinct possibility, such screens will take a lot to power and as such, Apple will need to boost the battery and processor.
Talking about battery life, it’s thought the iPhone 6 will feature a bigger battery than the 1,440mAh power pack the iPhone 5 included. Apple may boost this to 2,000mAh, but that will no doubt make the chassis a little larger.
The iPhone 6 will launch on iOS 7 unless Apple announces a surprise iOS 8 update before then. It’s more likely the company will launch the iPhone 6 with an incremental update (say, iOS 7.2) – after all, iOS 7 is a substantial enough overhaul to prevent Apple launching a brand new OS.
The iPhone 6 will probably launch with a new version of Apple’s own A7 processor – said to be dual core. There’s no word on what the processor will be clocked at though and we could see higher amounts of memory included. Perhaps upwards of 2GB.
In terms of multimedia, we can expect a camera of at least 8-megapixels (although, it''ll probably 13-megapixels) with a dual LED flash.
The iPhone 6 will launch in a number of different storage capacities, although rumour has it the company will scrap the 16GB version and offer the device with 32GB, 64GB and 128GB capacities.
We expect the Phone 6 to be the top-level iPhone and as such, it will probably have a flagship price. The iPhone 5 is available from £529 for the 16GB version, £599 for 32GB and £699 for 64GB. If Apple were to up the screen size and storage, we would expect these prices to be modified accordingly.
It’s thought the device will be released in 2014 but there’s no word on exactly when that will be as yet. Apple's usual schedule sees it launch new iPhones pretty late on in the financial year – usually Q3/Q4 – so it is likely we'll see the iPhone 6 made available around the same time next year. Apple's a sucker for tradition and autumn just wouldn't be autumn without an iPhone release.