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.