2014 promises to be another landmark year in the iPhone’s evolution.
Sure, there’s no major OS overhaul a la iOS 7 with its controversial whizzy graphics and 'flatter' design. And there's ostensibly nothing as seismic as the introduction of a plastic addition to the iPhone family coming this year either.
But there’s still plenty to get excited about if you’re a committed member of the iArmy. Or even if you're a floating voter.
This time around, after all, rumours suggest there'll be not one but two supersized iPhones, as we move away from Steve Jobs’ kneejerk scepticism of larger handsets and enter an era marked by Tim Cook’s ready embrace of the phablet form factor.
We’ve also got the Health app to look forward to, which promises to set new standards for quantified self and fitness apps. And we’ve yet to see how the forthcoming iPhones tie in with the iWatch too.
But that’s not all. A subtle redesign with that recall the curves of iPhones of past is incoming. As are relocated and redesigned buttons, an ultra slim look and the already-confirmed improved Siri support that was announced at WWDC.
Here, we’ve rounded up all the juiciest iPhone 6 rumours in one place to ensure you don’t miss any of the chatter currently lighting up tech blogs. And we’ll tell you when it’s landing on shop shelves and how you should expect to pay too.
iPhone 6 specs rumours
What’s under the hood this time around? What are the spec-sheet sells? How's big's the screen? What time is love? How soon is now? Enough with the questions, already. Here’s what we think we know.
There are two versions/screen sizes again
Last year saw the simultaneous launch of two iPhones for the first time. The premium iPhone 5S. And its plastic pal the iPhone 5C, aka the so-called 'cheap iPhone' that wasn’t so cheap after all.
For 2014 Apple is sticking with its two-phones sales model. But the big difference is that they’ll feature screens that are positively supersized compared with previous iterations.
Leading the charge, it seems, is a model with 4.7-inch display. That's 0.7-inches larger than the iPhone 5S.
It’ll apparently be accompanied by a variant with a 5.5-inch screen, making it Apple’s first-ever phablet in a bid to take on the beefy superphones that have enabled Android to muscle its way to the number-one spot for smartphone marketshare.
The displays aren't just supersized. They're super-strong too
Clips leaked on YouTube testify to the next-gen iPhone's display's ability to take a knocking and come out rocking.
Highlights for us include the screen being assaulted with a Stanley knife and smashed with a hammer with no discernable damage.
It's only when the iPhone 6 screen, which it seems owes its beefiness to a sapphire-glass build, is run over by a car that it gives up the ghost.
But sapphire doesn't feature
A 'source with knowledge of [Apple's] plans’ cited by Venture Beat reckons that although the screen will be tougher than Terry Butcher, it won't be due to sapphire.
The tech giant will, it seems, instead run with an unnamed material that's more robust than the current iteration of the Gorilla Glass found in the iPhone 5S
They'll be a revamped camera
Evidence points to the oval TrueTone flash from the iPhone 5S making way for a more rounded, rear-mounted flash for 2014. Whether that’ll also mean more megapixels hasn’t been made clear.
However, latterly we’ve heard tell that Apple will once again stick with eight-megapixel lens that featured on the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C.
That suggests that what camera enhancements that do happen will follow last year’s model. Think: a larger aperture to let more light in and increase in pixel size.
Hang on. It's actually got a 13-megapixel camera
Chinese Sony fansite Digi-Wo claims a Sony Exmor IMX220 camera sensor will be on board with 13-megapixels to get creative with. That'd be a very welcome boost indeed.
It’s waterproof a la Sony's Xperia Z2
This one’s a bit of a stretch. But in June when Jonathan Ive told the New York Times that he had been experimenting with new materials, he revived long-standing talk that we could be in for a LiquidMetal handset.
Coated with a special water-resistant layer, this potentially game-changing alloy could bring the iPhone in line with the Xperia Z2 and Samsung’s Galaxy S5 and save Apple a fair bit in replacement handsets too.
How likely it is to happen is another matter. Not least because the material’s inventor Atakan Peker long ago admitted that using liquidmetal would require massive changes for Apple’s factories' production lines to be able to work with it.
Given that there’s been nary a hint of a rumour about such a thing, we think this one isn’t happening. For now, anyway.
32GB and 64GB versions will happen. But there's no 16GB edition
If this comes to pass, it would mark the first time the entry-level iPhone has more than 16GB of storage.
But just because a 16GB option may not be up for grabs from launch doesn't mean it won't happen ever. We reckon a cheaper lower-storage edition will land at a later date, just as was the case with the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.
Optical image stabilisation tech is on board
This is purportedly reserved for the top-end 5.5-inch edition of the iPhone 6 and will be used a key differentiator from the 4.7-inch model. Other than screen size, obviously.
Given that optical image stabilisation, which is already on board select Nokia Lumia efforts, is far superior to auto-focus, it'd be a very welcome addition to the iPhone's camera.
Enhanced biometric security is coming
Although Touch ID is much better than Samsung's equivalent, it's not perfect. Not in the light of reports that the sensor that scans your pawprints is prone to wearing out.
With that in mind, we're told that the next iteration of Touch ID will be more durable and less prone to wearing out in the face of the extensive use it'll be subjected to. Samsung should probably take note.
We're going to need a bigger battery
When it comes to smartphone batteries, might is always right. And so it's not surprising that leaked images sourced by Nowhereelse.fr suggest the iPhone 6 will be home to a more powerful 1810 mAh cell were greeted gratefully by tech fans.
By way of comparison, the iPhone 5S packs a pretty puny 1560mAh battery.
All that extra power sounds good, doesn't it? It does. You're not wrong.
But the bad news is that the iPhone 6's larger 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens will expend more power than the iPhone 5S's four-inch screen. That could mean the larger battery won't actually mean longer battery life.
Good news: you're going to get a bigger battery
Citing supply-chain sources, analyst Sung Chang Xu reckons a 2,100mAh battery is on board the 4.7-inch iteration.
Apparently, the comparitively puny 1,810mAh cell was for a test unit and is no indication of what to expect when the finished iPhone 6 shows its face.
The Apple logo will light up for notifications
This one comes from our own sources, with the help of lord of the leaks Sonny Dickson. It stems from images we unearthed that show a market-ready rear housing for the iPhone 6.
Assuming it happens, the logo on the rear of the iPhone 6 would become illuminated to notify users of emails, social networking updates and other pressing matters. Just as importantly, owners could be kept in the loop even when their handset is face-down on a table.
Or maybe it won't
A report in August indicated that the embedded logo will actually be made of scratch-resistant liquid metal alloy, seemingly kyboshing predictions that it would light-up for notifications.
We think it'd be a shame if it didn't happen, though. And given that light-up logos have already featured on iMacs, it'd be a very on-brand thing for Apple to implement too.
Reversible Lightning Connectors are a thing
Photographic evidence of the cables and retail packaging along with tell-tale patent filings mean this looks a dead-cert.
In a nutshell 'reversible' in this case means users can plug the new cables into a USB slot any way up.
According to Apple's regulatory filing, this is intended to cut down on 'user frustration' and minimise accidental damage caused by blindly prodding around USB ports.
1GB of RAM only
A leaked schematic from Chinese Apple repair firm Geekbar suggests that the iPhone 6 will have just 1GB of RAM.
To put that in some kind of context, that's the same amount as the iPhone 5, 5S and 5C. And is four times less than Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 is supposed to be packing.
On paper that's a bit disappointing. Any yet, it's not really any cause for concern.
Because iOS is so efficient compared with its Android rivals, it's more than capable of delivering a super smooth performance with much less RAM.
NFC. But this time it's for real. Maybe
Well connected blogger John Gruber has it on good authority that contactless payments are finally coming to the iPhone this time around.
This would allow you to pay for small-ticket purchases by swiping your iPhone over a reader. As Android smartphone users have been able to for ages.
We've heard this before, of course. And it didn't come to pass. But we've got a feeling it really is happening in 2014.
iOS 8 and all that entails
Apple always, always updates iOS to coincide with the launch of its new-gen phones. So it’s almost inconceivable that it won’t do so this time.
In case you missed our news coverage of World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) back in May, the freshly baked OS adds the excellent-sounding Health app and gives iMessage a very welcome overhaul.
You also get the QuickType keyboard, complete with predictive typing and better contextual awareness, and easier access to yours snaps via the iCloud Library.
Want a closer look at iOS 8? Take a scenic tour of the platform in our need-to-know guide
iPhone 6 design rumours
What’s the next-gen iPhone going to look like? Read on for what's being mooted.
It’ll feature rounded edges and a relocated on/off button
The skinny is that this time design don Jonathan Ive and co will ditch the squared-off look that Apple handsets have sported since the iPhone 4S and go back to the future with more curved edges that resemble the iPhone 3GS.
According to insiders, Apple has also relocated the iPhone 6’s on/off switch from its time-honoured spot at the top of the device. This will now sit on the side.
It’s much slimmer
Word is that the iPhone 6 will come in at around 6.1mm thin and that to reflect its super slim dimensions, Apple could name the handset the ‘iPhone Air’.
To put that in some kind of perspective, the iPhone 5S is a pretty slimline bit of kit but comes in at a positively beefy 7.6mm. But before you get in a tizz about that, it's worth noting leaked photos show the iPhone 6 is also much taller than before. Swings and roundabouts, then...
The bezels are smaller
Photos show that Apple has trimmed the strip around the screen this time. This should mean it’s able to squeeze in larger display without making the handset itself any larger.
The volume buttons are different too
These will stay where they are, but will be slightly redesigned. The result will it seems be volume buttons that are more rectangular and pill-shaped than the current-gen model.
The rear portion is smaller for easier one-handed use
Photos we picked up from Sonny Dickson suggest that the rear part of the front panel (that's where the home buttons sits) will be smaller than previous editions.
This change, although ostensibly minor, could allow Apple to incorporate a larger screen while still enabling users to access the whole display with one hand.
Given how important the principle of one-handed use has been to Apple in the past, we think this one is nailed-on.
iPhone colour options rumours
Are this year’s handsets “for the colourful” too? Doesn’t look like it.
Both phones will come in grey, gold and black
Every leak and mock-up of the iPhone 6 in its 5.5-inch and 4.7-inch incarnation has shown in it space grey, champagne gold or white.
That strongly suggests that, despite improving sales for the iPhone 5C, the rainbow-bright hues it introduced to the Apple smartphone pallette are being consigned to the techbin of history.
iPhone price rumours
How much for this wonder device, then? Hmm, that’s up for debate too.
Apple will charge extra for the 5.5-inch model
Analyst Tavis McCourt claims we should expect to pay $100 more for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 if we opt to pick it up SIM-free and off-contract.
The premium is apparently to cover the cost of that extra screen space and the larger battery needed to keep the display alive.
Will that levy dampen would-be buyers’ enthusiasm, though? Not likely.
In a survey, McCourt found that one-third of those asked would be happy to stump up the extra outlay.
But before you start budgeting accordingly it's worth nothing that until now Apple has managed to keep prices steady from year to year. Which casts talk of a $100 premium in a somewhat dubious light.
When will Apple launch it?
This is a lot less clear than you might imagine.
Both phones will be unveiled in September, say some people
If all goes to plan it makes sense for Apple to unveil both phones simultaneously – just as it did last year – in September. But, as ever, it seems it’s not that simple.
The 5.5-inch iPhone 6 won’t go on sale until later, say others
For months, it’s been claimed that the iPhone 6 in its 5.5-inch edition has been beset by manufacturing challenges.
Said to relate to reproducing the eye-stroking effect of iPhone’s high-density Retina Display on a larger screen, the problems are said to have prompted Apple to delay the larger phone’s street date until some time after.
How much later? Well, some tech-watchers reckon it might drop towards the end of the year. Worse yet, and you'd best brace yourself now for here cometh the chill wind of dread news, others posit it might even be delayed until early 2015.
Not true. They’re now on course to hit shop shelves simultaneously
Those manufacturing problems? Apple has licked them and both phones will go on sale simultaneously, says analyst Brian White.
The Cupertino giant is thought to have found a way to replicate the Retina Display. How we don't know, though.
Meanwhile, a related issue of getting enough screens ready has seen it enlist Innolux to supply screens.
The display-maker will purportedly share responsibility for manufacturing displays with long-time partner Sharp, which it’s claimed struggled to meet Apple’s standards.
It's all happening on September 19th
Citing industry sources acquainted with Chinese site Tencent, GforGames reckons both phones are due for launch on September 19th.
That date was corroborated by separate report wherein German carrier Deutche Telekom is also rumoured to have told its customers that the handset will drop that day.
Ahem. I think you'll find September 15th is when it's all going down
Chinese language site China.com reports that both phones will be showcased on the 15th and won't hit retailers until the 25th.
For what it's worth, though, we should warn you that not many western tech sites afford this date much credibilty.
Or is it the 9th?
Re/code, which has never got an iPhone launch date wrong, claims the handset will arrive on the 9th.
Given the site's track record and the close ear it keeps to happenings down at Apple, who are we to doubt them?
It really is the 9th. And that's official
A press invite sent out in late August confirmed the IPhone 6 is landing on Tuesday 9th. Batten down the hatches, fanboys. It's happening.
Safety probes at Chinese factories mean we can expect shortages whenever it tips up
A production suspension at a Foxconn plant in China, where iPhones are polished and manufactured, in August prompted a rash of speculation that the phone's release may be hamstrung by supply shortages.
That's a best-case scenario. At worst, Apple may even be forced to delay the iPhone 6 release.