2014 is underway, and now it’s time to look ahead to what Apple has for in store for the new calendar year. Apple updated almost every one of their product lines in 2013, and we should expect to see the same in 2014. The iPhone is Apple’s big money maker, accounting for over 50% of their revenues, so they put the most time, and effort into their smartphone each year. With the release of the iPhone 5S last year, we got the A7 64 bit chip, a new camera system, and the TouchID fingerprint sensor, all while maintaining the exterior design of the iPhone 5. Now that we got an “S” year out of the way, it’s time for a true next generation with the iPhone 6.
The big new addition will be a larger screen as once again Apple increases the display size. To make the increase as seamless as possible for current apps, Apple will try to keep the overall device size as close to it is now as possible. To pull this off, Apple can move from the current 4” screen on a 3.5” x 2” device to a 4.7” screen on a 4.1” x 2.3” device. The overall form factor doesn’t change much, and yet Apple would push the resolution from 326 pixels per inch to 468 ppi. In doing so, Apple would also maintain the 16:9 aspect ratio, but bump it up to the industry standard of 1920 x 1080, from the current 1136 x 640. The form factor can be pulled off if Apple is able to create an edge to edge display, and cut the margins around the home button, and the earpiece/Facetime camera. Apple has about a half inch in height, and a quarter inch in width to work with as that’s relatively unused space that could be filled by screen.
If Apple is able to fill more of the current device size with screen, they could theoretically add just a quarter inch to the height and width of the iPhone 5S/5, and yet offer a 35% larger screen, with a much higher ppi. The front of the iPhone 6 would be mostly screen, but a slightly larger device would also give Apple more room within the device to potentially add in a larger battery to power the larger display with higher ppi. Not only will the iPhone 6 have a new display, but the back of the device should see some changes over the iPhone 5/5S two-tone backing that offers glass and pieces in a flat layout. Apple could look to offer a curved glass design to contour to your hand, or build upon the polycarbonate backing seen in the iPhone 5C. Apple has invested in Gorilla Glass, and their own Sapphire plant, but both may need until 2015 for curved options. The iPhone 6 may greatly resemble the iPhone 5/5S, but on a slightly larger scale.
One question mark is what will be Apple’s mid-tier device? It’s likely that the iPhone 5C drops to free with a two year contract once the iPhone 6 is released. Will Apple then just drop the iPhone 5S to $99 with two year contract, or will they copy their pattern from 2013 with two new iPhones? The iPhone 5C is a repackaged iPhone 5, and could we potentially see an iPhone 6C with iPhone 5S internals, but the same colorful plastic shells? Did Apple set a new precedent with the 5S and 5C last year, or did it just make sense with the release of the “S” line? The most likely scenario is that Apple put all of their emphasis on the all new iPhone 6, with the 5S just fitting in at the mid-tier for $99 with two year contract, but stranger things have happened.
The iPhone 6 main update will be on the exterior of the device, but we’re still likely to see a new A8 64-bit chip to offer an improvement over the current cutting edge A7 chip. Apple could go after a quad core design, or focus on enhancing their dual core layout, at a smaller nanometer size. In terms of the camera, it’s likely that Apple continues to enhance the sensor, rather than just adding in megapixels for the sake of megapixels. It seems stabilization, low light shooting, and color clarity would be the focus of improvements. Of course, there’s also the potential software enhancements of the presumed iOS 8, which we will cover in detail in a separate article.
The iPhone 6 is expected to launch in the fall, and looks to be Apple’s biggest iPhone yet.