iPhone 6 specs, release date, price, rumours and news
We dig through all of the rumours to find out the iPhone 6's price, specs and release date
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 halfway through 2014, 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 (which the iPhone 6 will definitely have), 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.
Beware dodgy fake photos
In the clamour to find out the latest iPhone 6 rumours and news there are bound to be some duff rumours. While speculation is all well and good, sometimes stories are so laughably fake they deserve a kicking. Technology blog TechRadar recently posted photos claiming to be of the iPhone 6 and its retail box. Except the photos were so obviously fake they weren't even worth reporting.
For one the alleged retail box showed a completely different phone running iOS 7, when Apple will almost certainly launch the iPhone 6 with iOS 8, which is being rolled out this autumn. The box was also clearly printed by someone at home, with white and grey lines showing where the printer had struggled. The iPhone 6 logo added on the side is also obviously Photoshopped.
The apparent iPhone 6 in the photographs is also fake. Tellingly the phone is never shown swithced on, displaying only the Apple boot-up logo. It is most likely to be a dodgy Chinese iPhone knock-off running Android or another operating system. It would be fairly simple to chuck an Apple logo on the screen and hey-presto, there's the iPhone 6.
Rumours are fun and interesting and there's loads of interesting tidbits being reported, but this story was laughably bad.
iPhone 6 release date
There are so many conflicting rumours about this that it's getting hard to keep track of them in one place. At the moment, the best information we have is that the iPhone 6 will most likely be unveiled on Tuesday 9th September, going on sale on Friday 20th September. We have two rumours that agree on the unveiling date, so it's looking the most likely for now. We also don't buy rumours that the larger 5.5in phone will be delayed until 2014 - read our iPhone 6 release date article for more information and the latest rumours.
iPhone 6 name
With two different screen sizes expected in September, it's almost certain that Apple will have to come up with a new naming convention for the next iPhone to make it clear to customers that one model has a bigger display, but otherwise similar features. It doesn't make a lot of sense to call the larger phone the iPhone Air, after the larger iPad, and it's going to be a tough push calling the 4.7in handset the iPhone 6 Mini, as it will be larger than any other iPhone to date.
According to 9to5Mac, Apple could sidestep the traditional number/letter naming system used for all previous iPhones and call the larger phablet handset the iPhone 6L. The smaller 4.7in handset will almost certainly be called the iPhone 6, clearly differentiating the two handsets by name and making it clear both are brand new models - not updated versions of existing handsets. The report comes from Chinese website Apple Daily, but as it's currently unclear where the site got the name from, we'll be sticking with the iPhone 6 until we hear different.
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 convinced 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 Full HD screen.
Instead, it's looking increasingly likely that the two handsets will have different resolutions, in order to keep the display density the same regardless of screen size. A photo from luxury modified iPhone retailer Feld & Volk purportedly showing an iPhone 6 display panel under the microscope. Although the company told 9to5Mac the screen has a 1,704x960 resolution, based on an estimated 13 pixels per millimetre, Macrumours thinks a 1,472x828 is more likely for the 4.7in model, based on references in the latest iOS Xcode SDK.
That would mean the 4.7in, 1,472x828 iPhone 6 and 5.5in, 1,704x960 iPhone 6l would both have display densities of around 350-360 pixels per inch, with roughly 14 pixels per millimetre - improving on the iPhone 5s' 10 pixels per mm and roughly 326ppi screen density. A definite improvement, then, but still not on par with Full HD or QHD Android handsets.
Although a bigger screen would be nice, quality is also important and Apple has been looking into 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, will it have sapphire glass?
One of the big rumours surrounding both iPhone 6 models, was that they were designed to be tougher, even practically unbreakable, thanks to new sapphire glass screens, which are a lot tougher than Gorilla Glass. In fact, sapphire glass, a man-made material, has a value of 9 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, putting it just behind diamond. Then, Apple invested a staggering amount of money into GT Advanced Technologies in order to produce sapphire glass for its new handsets. Surely we were onto a winner here?
As usual, a ton of competing rumours have come out. We'll wade through them here to see what's likely. Recently, industry analyst TrendForce has claimed that there will be no sapphire glass for the iPhone 6, as production hasn't ramped up. The company claims that global sapphire glass production has seen no uplift and that Apple's manufacturers haven't even got any material to work with. That would seem to be a fairly major sticking point.
However, rumours of sapphire glass' short supply may be a bit premature. According to iMore, GT Advanced is ready to start volume production of sapphire glass, after completed its new facility.
"The build-out of our Arizona facility, which has involved taking a 1.4 million square foot facility from a shell to a functional structure as well as the installation of sapphire growth and fabrication equipment, is nearly complete and we are commencing the transition to volume production," said GT Advanced.
Then, we have a video demonstrating how tough sapphire glass is, with alleged real iPhone 6 parts. In a video, posted 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, Brownlee 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.
So, we know that GT Advanced is ready for production and we know that a tough sapphire glass front panel is already out there. All we need to know for definite is that production is going to be at a high enough volume to meet the iPhone 6's launch date. We'd like to think that Apple can pull this one off, but we're going to have to wait a bit longer to find out for certain.
iPhone 6 NFC seems unlikely
NFC is one technology that Apple has steadfastly refused to integrate into its handsets or tablets, giving rise to plenty of rumours that the next one will have it. Obviously, that's led to loads of people saying that the iPhone 6 will definitely have the technology, although we've yet to see any convincing evidence.
Recently, Nowhereelse.fr published shots of the iPhone 6 PCB. While the shots are nice and clear and the mounting points on the PCB appear to line up neatly with the mounting points in the leaked shells, the source of the photos also provided a bit more information, claiming that the phone would have 802.11ac Wi-Fi and NFC. It's completely impossible to tell from the photos is this is true or not.
We can believe that 802.11ac will make its way into the phone, as rival Android handsets already have the technology, but NFC seems a stretch too far. For starters, Apple mocked NFC at the launch of iOS 7, dissing the way that phones have to be bumped together; it said that its AirDrop technology was far superior.
Now the rumours are that Apple is going for NFC not for phone-to-phone communication, but for contactless payments. We're not convinced, though. Apple has invested money in its iBeacon technology, which uses Bluetooth to allow mobile payments. Beyond that iBeacon also allows devices to discover information, such as which items are for sale in a store. It seems more likely, then, that Apple will continue to push this technology instead, not least because it has full control over it.
iPhone 6 light-up rear logo
Recent images, posted by Uswitch with the help of industry insider Sonny Dickson, are allegedly of the rear shell. The image has a cut-out for the Apple logo, covered by a thin plastic insert. This is apparently because light will shin through the case and light up the logo, much in the same way as on Apple's MacBook laptops. Although it was merely a design choice on the MacBook, it has been alleged that the light can be controlled on the iPhone 6 in order to display notifications. However, with no internal components visible, this can't be proved or denied at the moment. All we know is that the shell pictured looks similar to those we've seen in previous leaks.
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 reversible USB cable
It's far from confirmed yet, but it appears that Apple has developed a reversible Lightning to USB cable in time for the iPhone 6 launch later this year. According to industry insider Sonny Dickson, the company has designed a cable that will work with existing USB ports, rather than force customers to switch to an entirely new design (as proposed by the USB consortium with is reversible USB 3.0 type C cable). It would certainly make it easier to plug your iPhone into an iMac without having to spin the entire system around just to see the USB ports.
If cables are being manufactured now, it seems highly likely that they will arrive alongside a new iPhone, but with new iPads also rumoured for launch in the Autumn Apple may wait to launch the new cable alongside an iPad Air 2 instead of the iPhone 6. As ever, this is merely a rumour until we hear otherwise.
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. The advantage of sapphire glass is that it's super-tough, scoring a value of 9 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, putting it just behind diamond.
You may be wondering just how tough sapphire glass really is. Well, you can find out by watching the video below, posted 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, Brownlee 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.
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 anodised 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.
More recently, the iPhone 6 rear shell has leaked on MacRumours, via Feld & Volk, a Russian manufacturer that creates custom iPhone and iPads made from high-quality components. 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 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."
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.