iPhone 6 specs, release date, price - all the rumours
We keep you up-to-date with the latest iPhone 6 specs, release date and price rumours
Talk of the iPhone 6 has been going on for well-over a year, with the large-screen phone not coming at the end of 2013 with the iPhone 5S. However, now we're more than half-way through the year, the good news is that we haven’t got long before the iPhone 6 is released.
While Apple is notoriously tight-lipped about upcoming products, there have been plenty of leaks, giving us a sneak peek at what the company has in store for us. That's on top of Apple's own announcement of iOS 8, giving us the clearest indication of what the iPhone 6 will have in store for us.
Of course, as all of the major Android competition has already released their big products for the year, with the Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One (m8) and Sony Xperia Z2, we know what Apple's up against and what it needs to beat.
Here, we're rounding up all of the latest information to help you find out everything you need to know about the upcoming phones - 4.7in and 5.5in models are rumoured. We're updating this article regularly, so come back for the latest information. We'll put the latest information at the top to make it easier to find, integrating it into the full content later on.
iPhone 6 haptic feedback
This rumour has been doing the rounds for a while, but it's possible that the iPhone 6 will have improved haptic feedback. According to the latest rumours, a new haptic feedback motor would allow the phone to send different feedback depending on where on the screen you touch it. We're not convinced by this one, as haptic feedback hasn't been used in any iPhone and Apple already has a more advanced haptic feedback patent.
iPhone 6 rear shell leaks
More recently, the iPhone 6 rear shell has leaked online. Supposedly taken from the manufacturing line, this is a real Apple part, not a mock-up. As well as showing the size and shape of the new handset, it shows that the Apple logo is cut-out from the case; it's been rumoured that this could be for NFC, but with only the shell of a case to go by, this is impossible to tell. Check out the video below to see all round the case.
A second case leak looks similar to the one shown in the video above, only this one is much darker. Best guess so far, is that this is a replacement colour for the existing space gray.
iPhone 6 Release date - 5.5in facing delays?
Although there were plenty of rumours around that Apple was planning on launching the iPhone 6 earlier in the year, the fact that those dates have been and gone is all you need to know about how accurate they are.
Now that we're in July, it's starting to become clear that the most obvious launch date is the right one: September 2014, one year after the iPhone 5S. Now, we even have a date for the new launch: Friday 19th September 2014. This launch date, originally reported by MacRumours, comes from a report on a Chinese website, giving out the release date of the phone.
Note that this is the day that the phone hits the shops, not the date that Apple unveils the phone for the first time. Given that Apple launched the iPhone 5S on the 20th September 2013, following a press conference on Tuesday 10th September, that means that we should expect to see the iPhone 6 for the first time on Tuesday 9th September 2014.
More recent information says that we may only see the 4.7in version of the handset, with the 5.5in version facing delays. Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst for KGI Securities who has accurately predicted several Apple product announcements in the past, issued a report on Sunday saying that Apple was experiencing multiple issues with both versions of its upcoming smartphone, but the larger 5.5in model was bearing the brunt of the problems. According to the report, first spotted by Apple Insider, new in-cell touchscreen panel technology is reportedly proving tricky to manufacture in large numbers, with touch sensitivity issues on the edges of the panel. These problems get worse as the screen size is increased, making the 5.5in handset a much tricker device to build.
The iPhone 6's metal chassis is also proving problematic, with Kuo reporting that Apple's manufacturing partners are experiencing issues with colour unevenness. Again, this is apparently the case with both models, but are significantly worse on the larger handset. Finally, the scratch-resistant sapphire front panel may struggle to pass a drop test, which could lead to further delays while Apple tries to reinforce it.
However, we've lost count of the number of times that reports of delays have gone out, only for Apple to carry on as normal. Our money's still on both handsets being announced at the same time.
iPhone 6 tougher construction
Although beautifully made, the iPhone is just as breakable as any other smartphone, with plenty of people walking around with cracked screens after a drop. Apple appears to be working on a solution to this problem, toughening up its products.
A new deal could signal a super-tough sapphire screen for the iPhone 6. According to reports, Apple has struck a deal with GT Advanced technologies to produce sapphire glass in a plant in Arizona. Synthetic sapphire glass gets its name because it's transparent, although it's not technically glass. However, sapphire's advantage over glass is its incredible durability and hardiness. Sapphire has a value of 9 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, putting it just behind diamond. This means that it's extremely difficult to break, resulting in fewer broken iPhones, saving money in repair costs.
You may be wondering just how tough sapphire glass really is. Well, you can find out by watching the video below, post by Marques Brownlee. He claims to have a real, off-the-manufacturing-line 4.7in iPhone 6 front panel, which he puts through a series of tests. it wouldn't scratch with keys or a knife, or crack when stabbed with a knife. It wouldn't snap or shatter when bent, either. In fact, Brownless states in the video that he was completely incapable of breaking the glass under his own steam. He couldn't do a proper drop test, as the panel didn't come attached to a phone, so there's not the true weight behind it. However, if the examples of his attacks are enough to go by, the sapphire glass should protect the iPhone 6 against most common accidents.
iPhone 6 camera
For the iPhone 5S Apple upped the physical size of its 8-megapixel sensor, meaning that each pixel gets more light, but it didn't add more resolution. For the iPhone 6 Apple needs another improvement, with several options open. Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) was one possibility raised early in the game, with the technology used to reduce blur caused by camera shake. The first information came from The China Post, quoting from Nomura Securities, stating that Apple "may adopt an 8 mega-pixel (MP) camera with improved optical image stabilization on its upcoming handset, instead of the 16 MP upgrade anticipated by industry observers".
There may be differences in camera capability between the two iPhone 6 models, though. According to KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, reported by AppleInsider, only the 5.5in model will have OIS technology built in. This is largely down to size, price and yields, with Apple likely only to have enough OIS components to fit the larger phone. It would also allow Apple to distinguish between the two products more easily.
For the 4.7in iPhone 6, Apple is said to be installing a new "middle-mount open-loop voice coil motor" to control its camera. This is an upgrade from the component used in the iPhone 5S, which should allow for faster and more accurate focusing, plus it will use less power. However, it remains to be seen how well it will compete against the latest Android phones, which use even faster closed-loop voice coil motors.
In terms of sensor resolution, Kuo believes that both phones will use a Sony-manufactured 8 megapixel sensor, similar to the existing one for the iPhone 5S.
Apple may also be considering going in a completely different direction. Reported by 9to5Mac, a patent has been granted to Apple for a lightfield camera, allowing people to refocus their shots after they've been taken. The technology works by capturing light fields, rather than a single 2D capture of the moment. The net result is that a photo is no longer a fixed capture, but one where you can select a part of the picture to completely refocus the image.
We've already seen the technology in use with the Lytro Light Field camera. It's an interesting product, using software to let you choose the point of focus after the image has already been capture. The HTC One (m8) also has similar technology. Similar technology is also in the HTC One (m8).
iPhone 6 screen size and resolution
The iPhone 5S is the smallest flagship smartphone that you can currently buy. While we still think it's perfectly usable and is easy to carry around, there's clearly a demand for larger devices. This time around Apple seems to be ready to deliver.
In fact, it looks as though we're going to get two iPhone 6 models. First up is the 4.7in model, which is the direct replacement for the outgoing iPhone 5S. Next, is a larger phablet, the 5.5in model, which may also be called the iPhone Air to avoid any confusion between models. Just the 4.7in model is a big jump in screen size, as you can see in the image below (posted on Weibo), which shows a dummy iPhone 6 with an iPhone 5S sat on top of it.
While it's generally accepted that we're getting two larger handsets, with the screen sizes as described, the resolutions aren't quite so clear. KGI Securities analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a decent track record in this kind of thing, has said to MacRumours that he expects the 4.7in handset to have a resolution of 1,366x760 (326ppi) and the 5.5in phablet to have a resolution of 1,920x1,080 (401ppi). We're not so conviced by these rumours, though.
Typically, Apple likes to have mobile products with the same resolutions (or resolutions that can easily be scaled), to make things easier for developers and to ensure that apps work the same on all devices. Introducing two new resolutions would play havoc with that. We've got some musing (too long to go into on this page) about why the iPhone 6 won't have a Ful HD screen.
Although a bigger screen would be nice, quality is also important and Apple has been looking into this, looking to new technology. One of the most interesting rumours, reported by Business Insider, is that Apple will be using quantum dot technology. Quantum dots are man-made nanoparticles of semiconductor material, used to create light. They're so small that quantum effects start to take place. Without getting too bogged down in the science, the result is that the size of the dot affects its behaviour. From a display manufacturer's point of view, this behaviour can be harnessed, as the size of the quantum dot directly affects the wavelength of its light emission. The smaller the dot is, the closer to the blue end of the spectrum; the larger the dot, the closer to the red end of the spectrum it gets.
What's exciting about this is that displays can be fine-tuned using quantum dots of specific sizes. It means that a display can show more accurate colours. Quantum dot is not new technology and the Kindle Fire HDX uses this technology in its screen already. However, as we noted in our Kindle review, one of the downsides was some light bleed around the edge of the screen.
iPhone 6 design and build quality
Apple typically uses the same design for two products, before trying something dramatically different. As we've already had the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S using the same case, this time around it's time for the iPhone 6 to try something different. All of the rumours say that the iPhone 6 is going to take its design cues from the iPod Nano and the iPhone 5C.
This means we're likely to see the range of colours and smoother, more curved design from the iPhone 5C, compared to the iPhone 5S, which had rather harsh edges. However, while that phone was made from plastic, Apple's high-end models are made from metal. For this reason, we're likely to see the same annodised aluminium body as used on the iPod Nano.
Leaks have been coming thick and fast, with alleged shots of the handset now online. Alongside all of the usual, blurred shots, allegedly taken in the Foxconn factory are a few more interesting things. First, Taiwanese actor and racing driver, Jimmy Lin, posted a shot of the iPhone 6 on his Weibo page. Now, we'd normally dismiss this kind of thing, but Lin also leaked the iPhone 5C the first time around, so he could be right this time.
Next, a video has recently leaked and been posted on Nowhereelse.fr. It purports to show an iPhone 6 'dummy' model. In other words, an empty case made from the production molds, designed to show what the phone will look like and check compatibility with cases and other accessories. The video is surprisingly clear for a leak, with none of the usual blurring and obfuscation of details. You can watch the video below and work out for yourself how realistic you think it looks.
There have been a lot of 'leaked' iPhone 6 photos so far, but we've not been overly impressed with what we've seen. Most of the photos have been blurred and taken from distance, so it's impossible to tell what's going on. This time around, there's something a little different, as 9to5Mac has published some clear images of the front glass panel for the 4.7in phone. Leaked to the site by Sonny Dickson, who has a good track record with this kind of thing, the images show both a white and black front panel sitting side-by-side.
What's interesting about the shot is that you can clearly see at the bottom that the glass is curved. This fits in with rumours that the harsher edges of the iPhone 5S would be replaced with a more curvier and smooth design, similar to that of the iPhone 5C.
iPhone 6 battery
Sohu.com is reporting that the iPhone 6 is set to have a bigger battery. The 4.7in version is said to have a battery of between 1,800mAh and 1,900mAh, while the larger 5.5in version is said to have a much larger 2,500mAh battery. Compared to the 1,560mAh battery installed in the iPhone 5S, that's an increase of between 15 and 20 per cent over the iPhone 5S for the smaller iPhone 6, and a 60 per cent increase for the larger model. We wouldn't get too excited, though. The biggest power drain on a phone is the screen and a larger screen uses a lot more power. As a result, we're expecting both iPhone 6 models to retain the same battery life as the iPhone 5S, with the possibility of a small improvement, based on a more efficient Apple A8 SoC.
iPhone 6 TouchID
Launched with the iPhone 5S, TouchID is Apple's fingerprint sensor. It was surprisingly missing from the iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina Display, but looks set to come back big-style for this year, appearing on the iPhone 6, iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3. In a research note for investors KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated that the company strongly believes that Apple is planning to expand use of the feature.
"Apple's Touch ID module should see shipments soar 233 per cent in 2014. We believe every new iOS device launched this year will be equipped with Touch ID, including 4.7in and 5.5in new iPhone 6, iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 with Retina display. Considering shipments of new products and iPhone 5S sales last longer than in 2013, we forecast unit sales of the fingerprint sensor module to grow 233 per cent to 120mn for 2014."
It's possible that TouchID could be used for more than just unlocking the phone, particularly as Apple may finally include NFC in its latest handset.
iPhone 6 NFC
NFC has been one technology 'missing' from Apple's products for a long time. With the launch of AirDrop, which uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to transfer data and files between iOS devices, Apple even mocked NFC and the way you have to bash two devices together. Even Apple's in-store payment system uses the Bluetooth-powered iBeacon system, rather than NFC, which is used for contactless card payments.
Now, that could all change. According to Brightwire, Apple has done a deal with China UnionPay for a contactless payment system, which would use NFC. It would be good to see the technology on the iPhone 6, but as Apple has been so reluctant in the past, we're not sure it will change its mind now.
iPhone 6 Price
Apple typically releases its new models at the same price as the old ones. If that holds out, then we'd expect the 16GB model to cost £549, 32GB model to cost £629, the 64GB model £709. A larger screen could see prices go up, though.
Susquehanna analyst Chris Caso, speaking to AllThingsD, predicted that there could be a $50 to $100 premium for a larger iPhone 6, compared to the 4in iPhone 5s. However, there is potential good news. As Apple is said to be planning two screen sizes, it may be that the 4.7in model costs the same as the current iPhone, with only the larger phablet costing more. We're going to have to wait until much closer to launch to have any true idea of pricing, though.
iPhone 6 iOS 8
Apple has already released details of its next operating system, iOS 8. Given that new versions typically ship with new hardware, it's a good bet that iOS 8 will ship first on the iPhone 6. This new OS is a big update to iOS 7.1, tweaking and improving that OS to give it a clearer interface, still. Apple has also improved a lot of the apps and bundled technology, improving the way that iCloud works with photos, for example. Continuity is one of the biggest changes, though, letting your Apple products work better together. For example, you can answer your phone using your tablet, or carry on writing an email your started on your iPhone on your Mac.
One of the questions that people have had about Apple moving to a larger screen is, how will iOS 8 work? One of the things that Apple has been pushing recently, is that with its phones you can reach all of the corners with your thumb, making the iPhone easier to use than big-screen Android phones. With both 4.7in and 5.5in phones now rumoured, there's a danger that this usability will be gone.
In an attempt to address this concern, YouTube user Tom Rich as created a video, which shows what iOS 8 will look like on the 4.7in iPhone 6 (you can watch below). Obviously, the new phone hasn't yet been seen for real, so Rich is using a mock-up of the handset instead, super-imposing real iOS 8 screens onto the phone. There's no guarantee that this is what the iPhone 6 will look like, but assuming the screen size is correct, you get a feel for how the mobile operating system will actually work.
We have to say that we're impressed. Any fears we had that the phone wouldn't be very easy to use have gone, with a thumb able reach all parts of the screen. Check out the video below to see what you think.
iPhone 6 fitness
One of the biggest new features of iOS 8 is the new Health app. This is designed to bring together all of your fitness data (calories burned, steps taken, heart rate and so on) into one app. Obviously, the iPhone 5S doesn't have the sensors to do this, but it could be that the iPhone 6 does. In the least, we expect the new handset to be able to speak to a wide-range of monitoring devices, although Apple is also said to be working on its own.
Fitness and health monitoring are all big at the moment: you only need to look at the range of smartwatches that Samsung launched with the Galaxy S5 for more detail. It would be no surprise to see Apple taking that route with the iPhone 6. While we've already got rumours about the iWatch, and the new smartphone may have some rudimentary monitoring built in, too.
One of the most intriguing rumours is that Apple is developing a set of in-ear headphones that can monitor your heartrate. Secretly has reported that the new earphones will plug into the Lightning port, rather than the headphone port. It's not a new idea, as the LG Heart Rate Earphones have already demonstrated the technology.
We're not sure that Apple would bundle such a pair of earphones, though, as the cost has got to be much higher than with the traditional set. Still, we do think that health will be a big part of the system and it will be interesting to see if Apple can make more of the motion co-processor it introduced with the iPhone 5S.