iPhone 6 specs, release date, price, news and rumours

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iPhone 6 conceptUS, (Pal Telegraph) -Our iPhone 6 release date, features and price rumours article is updated on a regular basis, so check back to keep up with the latest information. Updated on 23rd April 2013 with new information on production delays.

If all of the rumours and speculation turn out to be true, it would appear that the next Apple smartphone will be an iPhone 5S, an update to the existing iPhone 5. All of the major changes are likely to come next year with the release of the iPhone 6.

Regardless of names, there’s plenty to suggest that Apple needs something brand new, as the iPhone 5 wasn’t met with the same rapturous applause of the previous releases, both because of the hardware and the problems with Apple Maps. With the competition getting a lot tougher, such as with the Samsung Galaxy S4, it could mean that Apple needs to up its game with a brand new phone.

iPHONE 6 RELEASE DATE

Initial reports where that the iPhone 6 would be with us this spring, following an earlier release date of the iPhone 5S. However, recent doubt has been cast on this, with now 2014 seeming more likely for the latest smartphone.

The main problem at the moment appears to be that the iPhone 5S is going to be delayed.

Peter Misek, an analyst at Jeffries, recently visited Apple’s Asian manufacturing partners to find out what was going on. While there he found an advisory note warning that the iPhone 5S was facing pre-production issues. The exact problems weren’t detailed, but it appears as though there are problems perfecting the mass production process for the iPhone 5S.

This will have a knock-on effect for other Apple products. So, a delay in the iPhone 5S also means that the iPhone 6 will be delayed, with Misek now saying that there’s no chance of seeing the new smartphone until 2014.

That’s something that analyst Glen Yeung agrees with, as reported on Newsday. According to Yeung, the iPhone 5S is going to suffer from “volume production issues”. This is likely to have a knock-on effect with other Apple products, including the iPhone 6.

There have also been other rumours about key Foxconn staff leaving, causing the problem. According to reports, important members of staff have left, which could be one of the reasons for a delay. However, we don’t buy this at all. Foxconn’s a massive company that simply can’t afford to create manufacturing delays because a couple of members of staff have left. Apple simply wouldn’t tolerate this kind of problem, either.

We can believe that technology problems and supply chain issue can cause delays, but we’re not entirely sure that Apple can afford these problems and it appears to be doing everything it can to make sure that production goes ahead. Recent reports have shown that Foxconn has been taking on 10,000 production workers per week since the last week of March in order to meet orders.

iPHONE 6 SCREEN

Apple has always been known for its high quality screens and it’s going to be interesting to see what it can do with the iPhone 6. What’s particularly interesting is Apple’s definition of its Retina screens. Simply put, it means that you can’t see individual pixels when you use the smartphone from a normal distance. In other words, using the same screen size as the iPhone 5 would mean that there’s no point in upping the resolution. So, it could be that Apple’s now going to up the screen size to get more resolution. This would make a lot of sense, particularly because large-screen Android phones are proving so popular at the moment.

Larger screen competition also means that Samsung, Sony and HTC are all producing phones with Full HD resolutions of 1,920×1,080. Apple really needs to keep up if it wants to win specifications wars.

One option is to ditch its definition of Retina and simply update the screen resolution, in order to compete on specifications alone. However, a more sensible thing to do would be to go for a larger screen size, do that more pixels are required.

Currently doing the rounds are the rumours that the iPhone 6 will have a 4.8in screen, which would make the phone similar in size to the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One. At this screen resolution, Apple could then move to a Full HD (1,920×1,080 resolution) or even go beyond.

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.

Apple can also do what it can to keep the size of the phone down. A thinner screen, as discussed above, will make a 4.8in iPhone 6 feel less chunky. Ditching the home button, as rumoured, would also mean that the phone can be made a bit shorter, using the front of the phone purely for the screen. To see what a 4.8in iPhone 6 with no home button would look like, check out the concept video below.

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.

Sharp has also started manufacturing a super-sensitive touchscreen, which you can write on with a pencil and even operate with gloves on. Given Apple’s relationship with Sharp, rumours have linked the new technology to the iPhone 6.

The new screen technology has eight times the sensitivity of existing models, is scratch resistant and is also thinner than existing screens. In other words, it would be hard to see why Apple wouldn’t want this technology.

iPHONE 6 FLEXIBLE DISPLAY

It’s also been rumoured that Apple is investing flexible screen technology, which would allow it to create a new smartphone that looks completely different to any previous iPhone.

Recently, Apple posted a job advert for an engineer with experience with flexible screens.

The job summary said: “Apple Inc. is looking for a Display Specialist to lead the investigation on emerging display technologies such as high optical efficiency LCD, AMOLED and flexible display to improve overall display optical performance.”

This follows a patent application for a phone with a wrap-around AMOLED screen. With both the job advert and patent filing, it could mean that the iPhone 6 is the most radical redesign of the iPhone we’ve ever seen. However, from experience, we’d say that working with a completely new technology and getting it right, as well as proving reliability, would mean that flexible displays are likely to be used in later models.

iPhone 6 flexible screen
The iPhone 6 could have a flexible wrap-around screen

iPHONE 6 CAMERA

One of the most important part of any smartphone is the camera, with people generally preferring their phone over a compact camera. With the competition putting a lot of effort into the quality of their cameras, Apple has slightly fallen behind, with the iPhone 5’s quality not matching that of the Samsung Galaxy S4 or HTC One.

Recent rumours, reported by MacRumours have stated that the iPhone 5S will get a 12-megapixel sensor, up from the 8-megapixel version on the iPhone 5. It stands to reason that the iPhone 6 will get the same, or better, sensor.

Upping the sensor resolution can introduce problems with noise, though, as there’s less light per pixel. Apple will be keen to counteract problems like this, so a lens with a faster aperture would make sense. Currently the iPhone 5 has an f2.4 lens, but an f2.2 or f2.0 lens would mean better low-light photography.

iPHONE 6 STORAGE

In terms of storage, 64GB has been the top model for a couple of years, so we’d expect the top model to now be 128GB. This has been predicted by Misek, who believes that the iPhone will offer more storage than before. Whether or not this means a new top-end model or whether the entry-level 16GB model hasn’t been confirmed, but we’d expect Apple to ditch the low-end and stick with its current pricing.

The rumours of a 128GB version would seem to be true, as we know that Apple now has that capacity, thanks to the recent launch of a 128GB iPad 4.

The new model doubled the maximum capacity of the previous high-end iPad (64GB). This update was said to be about increasing the variety of uses for the tablet, with Apple stating that more storage was good for large files for use in applications such as CAD and music production. It’s also a more useful amount of storage for photos and videos.

The update to the iPad 4 was a completely new model with a new price, so we’d expect the same range of capacities and prices to be available from the iPad 5: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB. With Apple now using 128GB storage in its tablets, the question is whether or not it will provide the same range of capacities in its iPhone and iPad Mini range, too.

Given that the capacity is now available to Apple and that the smartphone market is even more competitive, we’d say that a 128GB version of the new phone is more than likely.

IPHONE 6 INDOOR MAPPING

Apple has recently bought indoor location tracking start-up WifiSLAM for $20m, fuelling a rumour that the iPhone 6 will have indoor mapping.

Apple has bought the company outright, so it’s likely that its technology will be integrated directly into iOS products, rather than being available for third-party use.

While GPS is brilliant, it requires line-of-sight to satellites, meaning that it doesn’t work accurately indoors. WifiSLAM’s technology is designed to use alternative radio beacons (WiFi networks, RFID tags or specialist transmitters) to track people inside a building.

That may sound a little odd, but inside large buildings, such as museums, shopping centres and airports, the technology could be really useful.

It may be that the iPhone 6 gets this technology, so that it’s in-door ready. However, as indoor mapping requires additional technology to work properly, it could be a while before a lot of buildings are supported.

IPHONE 6 LUMINANCE SHOCK

Not all of the new features destined for the iPhone 6 are about making it faster, more attractive or improving the screen. Some, such as the mooted luminance shock eye protection, are about making it more comfortable to use.

Luminance shock is when you’re say in a dark room and a message or notification pops-up on your phone, shooting the screen to full brightness, temporarily creating a vision impairment. Now Apple has won a patent for a luminance shock avoidance.

According to the abstract supplied by Apple, “The algorithm receives the state of the display (e.g. on or in standby mode), and can optionally receive an ambient lighting value from an ambient light sensor and a user-selectable manual brightness adjustment setting to determine whether luminescence shock avoidance should even be triggered, and if it is triggered, how much should the brightness level of the display be limited.”

In other words, the phone will use the ambient light sensor built into the phone to see how dark it is. It will also monitor to see if the phone’s turned on or not. If the phone’s off and the room is dark, the algorithm kicks into action when an alert comes in and only raises the screen to a pre-set brightness level, avoiding luminance shock.

The patent then goes on to explain how, after a set period of time, the handset would then raise the brightness of the screen to the set brightness level, slowly ramping it up and giving your eyes time to adjust.

Apple’s patent also describes using a gamma shift to change the screen to red wavelengths, which the eye is less sensitive to, moving it away from the blue/green light.

One of the key things about the patent is that it’s a luminance shock avoidance algorithm, which means that Apple can implement it in software. That means that the iPhone 5S could get it, as well as existing iOS devices, such as the iPhone 5 and iPad 4.

NFC

One of the omissions from the iPhone 5 was NFC, but with the technology starting to appear in most new Android phones, we’d expect this in the in iPhone 6. With Apple pushing its Passbook App, for storing store cards, tickets and coupons, integrating this with NFC would make a lot of sense. An Apple phone with NFC would also help push the technology, as retailers are more likely to take it seriously with this handset on board.

iPHONE 6 SMART BEZEL

One of the things that attracts people to the iPhone is its ease of use and simplicity. However, iOS has barely changed since launch, so Apple could well introduce new ways to interact with its phones in order to stay ahead of the competition.

Patently Apple managed to dig up information on a new patent for a smart bezel. This will use a secondary display system, which could be embedded around the primary screen or even on the back of a device to provide new controls that light up when needed.

According to Patently Apple, “Apple intends to use the secondary display to introduce a new set of illuminated indicators that would be able to morph into various controls for work and play. Illuminated gaming and productivity controls could be built into the face-side of the bezel and/or selected back-side areas of iOS devices like the iPad.”

Apple iPhone 6 smart bezel
Smart bezel will use a secondary display system that illuminates controls when they’re needed

That sounds pretty cool to us and could negate some of the negative point of iOS, such as having to scroll all the way to the top of an SMS thread to call the contact.

iPHONE 6 PROCESSOR

Judging what Apple will do with the processor is harder, but we’d expect an updated model in the iPhone 6. Currently the iPhone 5 has a dual-core Apple A6 processor, but a quad-core Apple A7, using ARM Cortex A15-based cores, sounds plausible to us.

It also seems more than likely that Apple will use ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture. This allows a processor to have low-power cores that save on battery life, when not much CPU power is required, switching to full-power cores when more intensive tasks are required. Apple’s always been hot on battery life, so this move would make sense, particularly as it’s something that ARM’s really pushing at the moment.

There are already quad-core phones from Apple’s competitors and there’s now the Samsung octa-core Exynos 5 chip. However, it’s important to note that more cores doesn’t been better performance and the iPhone 5 is still the smoothest and fastest smartphone that we’ve used, despite having ‘only’ two cores.

With that in mind, Apple will only use the hardware that its phone requires, rather than going all-out to get the most number of cores into a phone.

The latest information suggests that the Apple A7 processor is now being finished by the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing company. It appears as though, the final design will go in March, then move to risk production in May-June.

With that kind of schedule production of the new chip would happen in 2014, meaning that this processor will definitely be for the iPhone 6, while the iPhone 5S is more likely to get some kind of tweaked A6 processor.

Recent rumours have suggested that the iPhone 6 process will be manufactured by Intel, rather than Samsung.

With Intel’s core market of desktop and laptops contracting, the company is looking to expand its business by offering contract manufacturing. It makes a lot of sense, as Intel has the capital investment in global fabrication plants, which means it should be able to offer competitive prices. It also means that Apple can move away from Samsung, reducing its reliance on its main competitor.

This shouldn’t be read as a move to Intel-based technology, though. Although Intel has a smartphone chip, it hasn’t been used in a lot of phones, with manufacturers preferring ARM. ARM has the dual benefits of low power requirements, which are important on battery-powered devices, and the fact that it licenses its technology, so manufacturers can easily build their own custom chips.

iOS 7

One of the constants of the iPhone has been iOS 6, which as barely changed. In fact, with iOS 5, which was introduced with the iPhone 5, the OS barely changed, bar the introduction of the disastrous Apple Maps app.

With Android offering Widgets and Windows Mobile 8 a cleaner interface, it’s fair to say that iOS is starting to look a bit dated. We’d bet money on Apple working on a successor with a different interface, but whether or not this is iOS 7 and whether or not it will be released with the iPhone 6 is yet to be seen.

The odds of iOS 7 being ready on time have slipped, with news that the project is now behind schedule. According to recent reports, Apple has had to take developers away from OS X 10.9 in order to get its mobile OS back on track. So, where does that leave us? Well, the smart betting is that iOS 7 will be released with or shortly after the iPhone 5S, iPad 5 and iPad Mini 2. Current information has the iPhone 6 releasing next year, so we wouldn’t be surprised if it were to get a tweaked version of iOS 7, perhaps with some unique features for this handset.

iPHONE 6 CONCEPTS

Working off the discovered patents and leaked information, a lot of iPhone 6 concepts have been released. At the moment, the most interesting one is from InventHelp’s Nickolay Lamm.

“I feel that the sales success of the iPhone 5 overlooks the fact that it was a pretty boring phone,” Lamm said. “I looked at all of Apple’s recent patents and chose four which Apple may include in the iPhone 6 or later version. I then hired a 3D graphic designer to illustrate each of these patents so that the illustrations were as realistic as possible. I gave him very specific guidelines to follow.”

The shot below shows a possible version of the phone, along with the Smart Bezel highlighting controls on the screen. The finished iPhone 6 will most likely look different, but it’s interesting to see how Smart Bezel could work.

This iPhone 6 concept shows how the new phone could look, complete with its smart bezel

iPHONE 6 PRICE

Apple typically releases its new models at the same price as the old ones, and we can’t see it introducing a more expensive phone into this tough market. If that holds out, then, and assuming that the 16GB model is dropped, we’d expect the 32GB model to cost £529, the 64GB model £599 and the 128GB model £699.

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