There are a few things in life you can eternally rely on: 1) your phone is never where you left it, 2) your train will be the only one crippled by "adverse weather" and 3) Apple will launch a new iPhone every year until humans master the art of telepathy.
Following this year's WWDC and in the wake of a number of new leaks, it's time to take another quick look on the latest rumours and whispers surrounding 2014's iPhone 6.
We've had the iPhone 5 and we've had the iPhone 5S. With the "S" class version of the iPhone 5 out of the way, you geniuses should be able to figure out that the next on Apple's list is the iPhone 6. However, with rumours circulating that there will be more than one iPhone launching this year, at more than one screen size, Apple may have to introduce another name to act as a differentiator. Could we see an iPhone 6 and an iPhone 6 Plus or iPhone 6 Max launch this year?
The nosiest rumour surrounding the iPhone 6 today is the possibility that it will launch in two sizes, both bigger than what's currently seen in the 4-inch iPhone 5S. The most-often rumoured screen sizes are 4.7-inches and 5.7-inches, though we've also heard word of a 5.5-inch iPhone 6 and a 4.8-inch device too. There's sense to the rumour of an iPhone 6 landing with a larger screen -- Apple needs a new selling point to encourage those looking to upgrade, as well as offer an alternative to rivals' popular "phablet" devices. However, there's also the potential for a larger iPhone to cause fragmentation across iOS for developers -- something Apple has been keen to avoid in the past, allowing most apps to cohesively run across multiple generations of its devices.
Just hours before the September 9th Apple event, China Mobile leaked some suspicious-looking specs, allegedly detailing the 4.7-inch edition. It details a 1134 x 750 resolution screen and 8MP camera being included, alongside waterproofing and a shatterproof sapphire display. Take them with a pinch of salt -- that screen resolution in particular looks a little too uninspiring to be the real deal.
Other rumours point to the iPhone 6 sporting a curved display, while the chassis to the new iPhone is thought to have a curvier finish that would bring it in line with the iPad Mini design, according to a number of leaks.
Elsewhere, Apple is said to have made moves to improve battery life by moving to take over low-power component specialists Renesas Electronics. This could possibly help push the iPhone's battery life further -- a selling point in itself. Apple is also said to have put new environmental sensors in the iPhone 6, to monitor temperature, humidity and pressure levels, in an effort to improve its health and fitness monitoring capabilities -- and possibly to aid a companion iWatch wearable. Possible schematics have leaked online too -- check them out below:
The iPhone 6 may also be the first time that Apple pops NFC into one of its phones, with images of NFC-compatible components arising, said to be from the iPhone production floor. This could be in preparation of allowing mobile payments with the phones -- Apple is said to have cut an as-yet-undisclosed deal with American Express, and is in similar talks with Visa.
Other than that, it should be business as usual -- expect the iPhone 5S's TouchID fingerprint scanner to return, and Apple's reversible Lightning connector to be used for charging and data transfer -- perhaps even in a new form that's possibly reversible at both ends. It's also very likely that there will be a an update to the processor onboard, likely jumping from the A7 to the A8. The A7 was Apple's first 64-bit processor, accompanied by the M7 motion co-processor -- expect to see a continued push to health and fitness tracking sensors within Apple's smartphones too.
GT Advanced is the company lined up to manufacture the next-gen sapphire glass for Apple's next line of iDevices according to one leak. Supply chain estimates claim the factory has enough capacity to churn out enough of the fancy new type of glass in quantities large enough to serve the production schedules of both iPhone 6 models and any future "iWatch".
Across May and June a number of fresh sources posted images of what were claimed to be rear casings for different coloured 4.7-inch iPhone 6 handsets. Each shared a curved design, more like an iPad Mini than previous iPhone generations.
Volume buttons now appear to sit on the left alongside a mute switch, while the SIM slot sits on the right edge next to the lock/power button -- seemingly to counteract an otherwise-uncomfortable stretch the top of the newly-elongated phone.
Around the back, there's a circular cutaway for a camera flash that looks more like the one found in the iPhone 5 rather than the oval-shaped "True Tone" flash of the 5S, and in at least one of the leaks the entire back seems to be made of metal. The glass strips on the rear of the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S have been removed, though dividers are still apparently present. These may have something to do with the handset's antenna systems.
This was followed by a leak from Chinese celebrity Dreamer Jimmy, who posted these images of what he claims is a prototype iPhone 6. Given that he somehow managed to get his hands on what proved to be a genuine iPhone 5C prototype, there's more credibility to his leaks than perhaps he's been given credit for.
Using the supply chain leaks and blueprint information as a jumping off point, reliable Apple tipster Sonny Dickson was able to work alongside YouTube user DetroitBORG to build a mock-up of the iPhone 6, lining it up against its predecessors. Check it out below:
More recently, Dickson got his hands on this 5.5-inch display which he claims is headed for an iPhone 6. Of course, it could be destined for any number of touchscreen devices of similar size, but if you like LCD panels and rulers rubbing gently across each other, this one is for you:
Noted Apple analyst John Gruber of Daring Fireball got his scientific calculator out and set to work figuring out possible screen resolutions for each device. While he believes the 4.7-inch model will have a 1334 x 750 resolution, the larger iPhone 6 5.5-inch version could jump up to 2208 x 1242, for a stonking 461 PPI.
Sonny Dickson later revealed produced the following image, showing off what he claims is a legit iPhone 6 leak. Offering few details along with the tweeted snap, it does give a good feeling of how the 5.5-inch device will size up against its smaller stable mate:
Put all those leaks together, assemble them into from component parts into constructed (non-working) device, and you end up with this video from Russian YouTube channel Rozetked:
A second video landed just days before the September 9th event, showing what appeared to be an iPhone 6 lined up against an iPhone 5S. If the phone in the video is Apple's new baby, it looks notably bigger, slimmer and rounder than recent generations of the iPhone:
Moving on from the the minimalist, flat design of iOS 7, the iPhone 6 will almost certainly land with the new iOS 8 operating system onboard. Revealed at WWDC 2014 in June, you can read about all of its new features here.
Alongside the long-rumoured Health tracking capabilities, Continuity and Handoff features will let Apple devices seamlessly communicate with each other and share features (even between iPhone and Mac), iCloud Drive will improve Apple's cloud-based storage methods, third party and customisable keyboards will be supported, the Notifications Centre will allow for interactive actionable updates, iMessages will support voice and video messaging, Safari will offer extensions, and the Touch ID scanner will be open to third party applications. There's a hell of a lot more on iOS 8 here.
While the megapixel count for the iPhone 6 remains uncertain (a 13MP sensor would be the likely jump from the iPhone 5S's 8MP snapper, seeing as that's where most of the competition sits at the moment), it's been suggested that Apple will drop optical image stabilisation in favour of electronic image stabilisation. This would allow for a smaller camera module, potentially allowing Apple to shrink down the entire thickness of the phone.
In addition to replacing the OIS system, the iPhone 6's camera could also feature larger, 1.75um sized, pixels. For comparison, pixels on iPhone 5S's camera measure only 1.5um. Bigger pixels allow more light to be drawn in, resulting in better quality images with more natural colours and less noise. It's something that HTC is currently exploring with its HTC One range and their Ultrapixel cameras.
Recently, Apple also poached Nokia camera specialist Ari Partinen. He'd spent seven years working across with the Finish company, including on its class-leading PureView smartphone photography tech. His expertise could yet lead to substantial advances in the quality of iPhone technology.
Shock horror, expect an Autumn release for the iPhone 6, following a press event on September 9th. This is the traditional launch window for the phone line, giving Apple just enough time to work people up into a frenzy in time for the Christmas present buying rush. Despite the date only being announced last week, it hasn't stopped some
idiots fans from already queuing up outside Apple stores months in advance of release.
Deutsche Telekom has suggested that September 19th will be the precise retail launch date for the iPhone 6. It may just be be an educated guess, but based on Apple's previous launch timings, it's plausible. Apple's usual schedule puts an unveiling event on the second Tuesday of September, followed by an in-store sale date set for ten days later. That would make the 19th of September a reasonable guess at the very least, giving Apple a Friday start for weekend sales madness to ensue.
Apple's iPhone pricing has stayed pretty consistent over the years, usually starting at around £549 for the 16GB iPhone 5S model and going all the way up to £709 for the top-of-the-line 64GB option. The "budget" end of the market for Apple these days is covered by the £429 iPhone 5C and £349 iPhone 4S. Don't be surprised if the iPhone 4S gets discontinued this year, though.
However, it's been suggested that Apple will be asking retailers for an extra $100 / £60 per device when ordering stock. If this is true, it may not necessarily result in a price increase for consumers -- networks have the means to absorb such rises through add-ons, accessories, data cost increases and ridiculous contract lengths. However, there's been suggestion that the larger iPhone 6 will be come at an added premium even at retail, perhaps being the only model of the new phones to make use of the sapphire display tech and improved photography components. It may be worth putting aside a little more cash than usual for this year's iPhone.
Updated: This post was originally published on March 13th, and updated on June 23rd 2014 to include the screen leak and additional shots from Sonny Dickson. It was updated again on September 2nd to include the new Russian YouTube video, the Super-Retina screen rumours, the Apple event date, reversible cable, NFC rumours and mobile payments rumours. We updated the post once more on September 9th to make mention of the China Mobile 4.7-inch iPhone 6 alleged leaked specs.