The most recent rumors suggest that the iPhone 6 and its larger brother will launch in September and, more specifically, on September 19. That’s just two and a half months from now, which means that the phones are likely set to hit manufacturing soon, if they haven’t already. Also, we think it’s highly unlikely that anything major will change in regards to hardware design between now and the consumer launch.
We’re summing up all of the changes that seem the most likely, and we’re going to take a more conservative approach to this, so we won’t be covering the more bizarre rumors out there. That way, at least, any additional announcements Apple makes will just add to the surprise.
Buckle up, here we go.
1. Two iPhone 6 Units: a 4.7-inch Model and a 5.5-inch Model
Apple will most likely launch two new iPhones this year, as it did last year with the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, including a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and a 5.5-inch iPhone 6. Last year before the iPhone 5s launch, we had a pretty good indication that Apple was going to name its new devices the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c. This year, however, we’re still in the dark in regards to how the naming is going to pan out. Will we see an iPhone 6 and an iPhone Air? Or an iPhone 6 and an iPhone 6+ (we just made that up)?
We have no idea, all we know is that most reports are calling for not one, but two devices, all over again. The screen is also rumored to be much sharper than the iPhone 5s. A recent report said we can expect the resolution to jump from 1136 x 640 pixels to 1704 x 960 pixels. That translates to about a 416ppi on the 4.7-inch iPhone and a 356ppi on the 5.5-inch iPhone, both sharper than the 300ppi offered by the current Retina display.
To advertise that, Apple may use a new “Ultra Retina” marketing moniker. Also, there’s been talk of sapphire being used, which is super strong and scratch resistant, and even “curved glass,” though if there’s curved glass at all we think it’s more likely that it will only be used to make the edges more rounded.
2. Design Language Consistent With the iPad Air and iPad Mini
The dummy units that have popped up all over the place, and which are apparently based on legitimate schematics, show us a major design change from the iPhone 5s. This fits with Apple’s releases historically, as it generally changes up the design of its devices after each “S” model release. Even with those units, however, a report on Monday warned that Apple’s device looks different than the dummy units, largely because it’s using different materials and manufacturing techniques.
Either way, this time around we’re expecting design language that fits more closely with the iPad Air and both iPad mini models. That means a flatter, thinner design with more rounded edges. You can see what we mean in the gallery above that shows the dummy units: the phones look similar to smaller versions of the iPad Air.
Making this change would create a product portfolio where the design is consistent across all mobile products.
Apple’s iPhone 5s offers one of the best mobile cameras on the market, but with increased competition across the board Apple isn’t going to be a sitting duck. We’re not quite sure we’ll see Apple jump on the 4K recording bandwagon just yet, though that’s always possible, but we think there will be noticeable improvements to the camera.
One report suggested that at least one iPhone 6 model will take advantage of something called electronic image stabilization (EIS) instead of optical image stabilization (OIS), which we’ve seen in devices like the LG G2, HTC One (M7), Lumia 1020 and LG G3. OIS helps a user take clearer pictures, particularly while moving and snapping photos at the same time. Still, another report suggested that Apple may save OIS for the bigger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 as a way to help the company distinguish it from its smaller brother (as if the screen size wasn’t enough.) Finally, iOS 8 apparently opens up the camera controls to developers.
While Apple’s stock camera application may still be very limited in terms of the adjustments an end user can make, third-party apps could potentially allow you to control everything before taking a photo, including white balance, exposure value, focus and more.
Almost all of the leaks and dummy unit photos we’ve seen have a 3.5mm headphone jack, so it’s likely Apple isn’t going to ditch this just yet – even though it would potentially allow for a thinner design.
Still, we think there’s still a chance that Apple is going to put more of a reliance on accessories that can use the Lightning port instead of the headphone jack. 9to5Mac said recently that the company has at least considered building headphones that use the Lightning port. With Beats Electronics now a part of the company, the firm could easily use that brand to push headphones that only take advantage of Lightning ports, instead of 3.5mm headphone jacks, to help swing people to choosing an iPhone over a competitor’s product.
There are other benefits, however. A report from 9to5Mac earlier this year suggested that Apple’s Lightning connector will allow for lossless stereo 48 kHz digital audio to your earbuds.
We don’t expect microSD card support, since Apple has never offered it in the past. The entry-level iPhone 6 should be priced right in line with what Apple has done in the past, which means it should come in at $199.99 with a new two-year contract. The larger screen and, if true, addition of OIS and other features may contribute to a higher price tag on the 5.5-inch iPhone 6, which will reportedly cost $100 more.
That doesn’t seem out of the question, since the display is often the most expensive component on a smartphone.
There are a lot of other features that are expected to change in the iPhone 6. We’re expecting a new 2.6GHz A8 processor that will likely be faster than ever, and Apple will probably use its new “Metal” gaming platform to show off its power during the iPhone launch event.
Apple will very likely surprise us in September, and we still think we’re being pretty conservative with our expectations.
There have been rumors that the iPhone 6 will have a glowing Apple logo – though this isn’t the first year those have cropped up – and others, but these seem the most plausible. Hopefully Apple has some more surprises up its sleeves, particularly with battery life; some of the newer Android phones have done a really good job by adding in super energy saving modes.
We’ll probably revise this guide a bit as we get even closer to the launch date, but for now this provides a good idea of where we think we stand ahead of the launch of Apple’s new iPhones.