With arch rival Samsung (SSNLF) expected to unveil a new Galaxy S5 smartphone on February 24, the pressure will be on Apple to respond. Of course the same thing happened last year, with the Galaxy S4 announced in March.
With the new flagship Samsung smartphone selling at a brisk pace, the iPhone 5 approaching mid-life and no comment from Apple on its plans, tech websites went to work seeking out prototypes and talkative suppliers in the hope of figuring out what to expect from the next iPhone.
They were right on some counts — the Touch ID sensor and gold case option, for example — but missed on some predictions like a bigger display and a cheap $300 option.
What are the predictions for the next iPhone? A faster CPU and new version of iOS are givens, but what else is Apple up to? Ciccarese Design Studio has some ideas, based on this concept image.
Here’s our roundup of Apple iPhone 6 rumors that might just be plausible.
Apple iPhone 6 Rumors: Bigger Display(s)
If there’s one rumor that’s a virtual lock to be true, it’s that the iPhone 6 will feature a bigger display. Consumers have been demanding Apple upsize the iPhone — count me among the group that held off on buying an iPhone 5s because of this — while competitors have relentlessly driven the average smartphone display size up.
Sony (SNE) made a splash at CES for its Xperia Z1 Compact phone, with a 4.3-inch display. When competitors are releasing smartphones with displays bigger than anything you offer and marketing them as compact models, it’s time to take action.
The rumor part of this equation comes down to how many iPhones Apple will release, the size of the display (s) and the resolution. Consensus among Apple iPhone 6 rumors seems to be on two iPhones, one with a 4.7-inch display and the second a 5.5-inch phablet to compete with the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy Note series. This concept from Ciccarese Design shows the current iPhone 5s beside renderings of larger iPhones.
Resolution gets trickier — Apple has always been reluctant to introduce new display resolutions (that complicate developing apps), and has stuck with Retina and non-Retina for iPhones, but current Retina (1136 x 640) at bigger sizes will look pixelated. Bets are on going with full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution.
To support the expected larger displays without killing battery life, Apple could switch to IGZO display technology –it’s not as bright as the current iPhone 5s LTPS display but supports higher resolutions and uses less power.
Apple iPhone 6 Rumors: Sapphire Glass, Throwing a Curve?
Apple is building a sapphire glass plant in Arizona in partnership with GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT). Apple’s investment means ramping up supplies of the scratch and shatter-resistant synthetic crystal, which it currently uses to protect the iPhone 5s camera and Touch ID sensor.
With the release of curved glass phones like Samsung’s Galaxy Round and the LG Flex, there has also been speculation the iPhone 6 might incorporate glass that curves down at the edges and possibly might include pressure-sensitivity sensors.
Also circulating in the Apple iPhone 6 rumors posts are claims that Apple is planning to bake solar charging capability into that sapphire screen. Although GTAC does offer solar products, this one seems like wishful thinking (at least for 2014) — but if the rumor turns out to be true, it would give Apple some serious battery life bragging rights.
Apple iPhone 6 Rumors: Camera Gets a Boost
People tend to look at megapixels as a cut and dry measurement of a camera’s capability. So there was disappointment last year when Apple kept the iPhone 5s at the same 8MP as the previous model. This was also the same year that Nokia (NOK) released the Lumia 1020 — with a 41 MP camera, making AAPL’s decision even tougher to swallow for some.
However, Apple had tweaked other camera specs (a physically larger image sensor, dual LED flash and a faster aperture) for better quality photos.
AAPL is going to want to keep the momentum it has going as one of the best mobile photography platforms and that means the status quo won’t be good enough. So far, Apple iPhone 6 rumors have Apple getting even more aggressive with aperture for better low-light performance and possible optical image stabilization to reduce blur.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if the resolution got bumped up to double digits, just to prevent competitors from being able to claim Apple’s sitting still after multiple years at 8MP.
Apple iPhone 6 Rumors: iPhone Air?
The last iPad release saw the Apple tablet get seriously thin and add “Air” to its name to emphasize this sleek new appearance.
The current iPhone 5s is already pretty slim, but the Apple iPhone 6 rumor mill is swirling with claims that AAPL plans to shave it down even more, resulting in an iPhone 6 that’s only 0.24 inches in thickness (compared to the current 0.30 inches), as illustrated by this concept render from FUSEchicken. The iPhone Air!
Could this one be true?
The iPhone 3G/3GS were 0.48 inches thick, the iPhone 4/4s hit 0.37 inches in thickness and the iPhone 5/5s are 0.30 inches. The trend is pretty clear and so long as Apple can technically slim the iPhone 6 even further without compromising the structural strength, then the iPhone Air is a distinct possibility. The bigger question might be whether Apple calls it that or sticks with iPhone 6.
Apple iPhone 6 Rumors: Release Date
This is the one that investors will be watching eagerly. Apple’s iPhone sales have begun to drop in the months preceding an expected fall release of a new model. This slowdown can wreak havoc on AAPL.
The Apple iPhone 6 rumors have been all over the map on this one. Some people see Apple switching back to a summer release this year to minimize the number of customers lost to the new Galaxy S5 and to minimize the volatility in iPhone sales during the waiting period. They’re looking for the iPhone 6 in June.
Others are predicting Apple will opt for a split release, unveiling a phablet-sized iPhone 6 in June and waiting until September for the smaller (but still larger than iPhone 5s) version.
The safe bet is a continuation of the fall release date Apple’s been following the past few years, but if Tim Cook is feeling shareholder pressure to shake things up and prevent APPL from taking a hit from sagging iPhone demand over the summer, then a June release is a distinct possibility.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.