iPhone 6 release date, specs, price, news & rumours
Posted on 4 Dec 2013 at 13:09, by David Ludlow
Updated on the 4th of December, with new information on gesture technology
While the iPhone 6 wasn't launched at the big Apple even in autumn, by seeing the iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina Display we'll get a better idea of what Apple's been working on for its iOS devices.
Of everything that we know now, the biggest bit of information is than the iPhone 6 is going to have a larger screen that the iPhone 5S. Although sales of the iPhone are high, the Android competition has all moved to large-screen Full HD models, with the HTC One, Sony Xperia Z and Samsung Galaxy S4, so it makes sense for Apple to compete on screen size.
In this article we're rounding up all of the iPhone 6 rumours. We'll give you all the current information on the release date, price and specs, filtering the information to help work out which rumours sound most likely.
iPHONE 6 RELEASE DATE
Guessing Apple's release dates is a complete and utter nightmare, with practically every prediction wrong. It's clear, given that the iPhone 5S was only released in September, that we're not going to see the iPhone 6 until 2014 now.
Apple usually has products on sale for a year, but the iPhone 6 feels like a different proposition to us. Rather than a replacement for an existing iPhone, it's more of an addition to the line-up. We kind of see it replication what Samsung has with the full-size Galaxy S4 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, with the exception that Apple's small phone, the 5S, is still really powerful.
Tim Cook has hinted at new products coming soon autumn launch in a call with investors. "Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software, and services that we can’t wait to introduce this fall and throughout 2014," Cook said. As we know now, the products Cook was talking about are being released on the 22nd October and include the iPad 5 and iPad Mini 2.
That would seem to be it for 2013, so we're going to have to wait until 2014 for the iPhone 6. However, relatively speaking, it seems fair that we can expect the handset soon, particularly as Apple's Canadian arm has apparently already leaked the iPhone 6. If we had to be pushed on a date, we'd say that early next year, between March and May would make sense. This would give Apple enough distance from the iPhone 5S, and give it a chance to take the limelight away from Samsung, which will be looking to release its Galaxy S5 handset around the same time.
iPHONE 6 NAME
One of the biggest questions is, will the iPhone 6 even be called that? We were all caught out when Apple decided not to go with iPad 5 for its new tablet, choosing to go with the iPad Air instead. There's every good reason why Apple might follow a similar strategy with its new iPhone, perhaps even going for iPhone Air.
The reasons for changing the naming strategy will probably depend on when the next iPhone is launched. If, as expected, it's launched early next year, that would mean that the iPhone 6 would only be released around six months after the iPhone 5S. For people that have bought the iPhone 5S, the new model with a higher iteration would immediately look like the newer and better phone; however, it would seem that Apple's plans for the iPhone 6 are to bring out a model with a larger screen that sits alongside, not in front of, the iPhone 5S.
With this rational, it's easy to see Apple deciding to call the new line something like iPhone Air, so that the existing iPhone line with its smaller screen can continue.
iPHONE 6 SCREEN
It seems pretty clear at this point that the iPhone 6 is going to have a larger screen than any iPhone released to date. The question that has to be answered is, how big will the screen be? Early rumours suggested that there would be a 4.8in screen, but more recent rumours have suggested that the iPhone 6 could have a 5in screen.
According to Japanese tech publication MacFun, the 5in screen will have a Full HD resolution of 1,920x1,080. From a certain point of view this makes a lot of sense, as there are already a lot of Full HD phones out there. However, we think that the resolution could be wrong, mostly because of the way that Apple works.
Apple has always been very careful in its resolution choices, so that apps look right on all of its devices. So, when Apple first went Retina with the quadrupled the resolution of the iPhone 3GS from 480x320 to the iPhone 4's 960x640. Quadrupling means that the horizontal and vertical resolutions are doubled, which makes scaling of old apps easy. When the company went widescreen, it kept the same horizontal resolution of 640 pixels, so old apps would run properly, but just with black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.
Moving to 1,920x1,080 would mean scaling up the current iPhone's resolution of 1,136x640 by 1.69 times vertically and 1.69 times horizontally. That's not such a clean method of scaling and there could be some issues with getting apps to work properly. As a result, Apple may decide to go for more resolution than it technically needs for a Retina display, quadrupling the current iPhone's resolution to 2,272x1,280 instead.
While Apple has not previously made a large-screen phone, upping the screen size for the iPhone 6 makes a lot of sense. It means it can compete with the large-screen phones from other manufacturers and keep the iPhone 5S as a smaller alternative, giving iPhone users more choice. The latest rumours have suggested larger, curved screens in both 4.7 and 5.5in sizes, which would compete with the current crop of Android smartphones and larger phablet handsets.
Tim Cook has said, "Some customers value large screen size, others value other factors such as resolution, colour quality, white balance, brightness, reflectivity, screen longevity, power consumption, portability, compatibility with apps and many things. Our competitors had made some significant trade-offs in many of these areas in order to ship a larger display. We would not ship a larger display iPhone while these trade-offs exist."
What that statement says, to us, is that Apple won't ship a large-screen iPhone until it's managed to iron out all of the trade-offs. A thinner screen, to make a lighter phone, could well be the right way to go, then.
It's no wonder, then, that Apple may also be considering the screen technology that it uses, with a Sharp IGZO (Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide) screen top of the list. This new technology allows for screens that use less power and are considerably thinner. Rumours certainly picked up when the Sharp IGZO technology was demonstrated at CES 2013.
Curved glass is also a possibility. Although it's unlikely Apple would ever opt for something as radical as Samsung's Galaxy Round or the LG G Flex, glass that curves around the edges of an otherwise flat handset would give the iPhone 6 a pebble-like feel that wouldn't dig into your hands like the angular lines of the current generation iPhone.
iPHONE 6 GESTURE TECHNOLOGY
Although the touchscreen is the main way of using the iPhone, Apple has also added voice with Siri, but could it now be looking at gesture technology? Rumours are rife that gesture is about to hit the iPhone, as Apple has bought the company behind the Microsoft Kinect.
According to reports, Apple paid $360m to buy PrimeSense, although it hasn't, as usual, said what it's bought it for. Apple released this statement: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."
With Apple refusing to say what it has bought the company for, it's up to us to speculate. The technology that PrimeSense developed for the Kinect let gamers play using their bodies and movement, rather than using a traditional controller. It seems unlikely that Apple will develop a games console, so the tech must be going elsewhere.
One area could be in the often talked-about Apple iTV, which was first hinted at in Steve Jobs' biography. Have gesture technology on such a set would make sense.
However, Apple could also be thinking about using the technology in the iPhone 6. Samsung also has some rudimentary gesture control in the S4, with videos pausing when you look away from the screen. Buying an entire gesture-sensor company would suggest that Apple is planning more major control. Of course, we're just going to have to wait to find out what it does with the technology.
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 deal was announced by GT Advanced Technologies in a regulatory filing. "The sapphire glass that GT will make in the facility will be used to cover the camera lenses in Apple's phones and the fingerprint-reading devices in its latest products. GT's technology also can be used to make scratchproof glass covers for smartphones, although it is not used for that purpose by Apple today".
Apple is due to pay $578m, which GT Advanced Technologies will use to buy and operate sapphire production equipment in a new Arizona facility. GT Advanced Technologies will pay back the Apple over a five-year period.
While the deal should, in the short-term, provide Apple with the materials it needs for existing components, there's a long-term plan, too. As part of the deal, GT Advanced Technologies will "deliver low cost, high volume manufacturing of sapphire material" using a large-capacity furnace.
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.
GT Advanced Technologies makes roughly $29 million in revenue from sapphire glass today, but predicts to make between $600 and $800 million in 2014. That huge spike looks likely to come from providing Apple with screens for its next device.
As well as looking at the screen, Apple is also said to be looking at toughening up the case by investigating liquid metal for the iPhone 6.
Liquid metal would encase the iPhone 6 is a super-tough metal, built up layer-by-layer, making it a lot hardier and more difficult to break. According to new information, Apple has put in five patents for liquid metal.
One describes how bulk metallic glasses (BMG, or liquid metal to give it the more familiar name) would be layered on top of each other to create components. The main focus on this invention is via 3D printing, allowing Apple to build components and cases from computer-generated designs.
According to the patents, Apple has stated liquid metal's uses: "A telephone, such as a cell phone, and a land-line phone, or any communication device, such as a smart phone, including, for example an iPhone, and an electronic email sending/receiving device. It can be a part of a display, such as a digital display, a TV monitor, an electronic-book reader, an iPad, and a computer monitor."
What's more Patently Apple, which found the information, believes that Apple has already used liquid metals in the iPhone 5S, suggesting that the technology is already available. It's clear, then, that Apple is interested in liquid metal for the iPhone and iPad range, so it's now a matter of when.
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