4 iPhone 6 Rumors This Week: Launch Details, Specs, and More
It’s been another exciting week of rumors and reports for Apple’s upcoming iPhone 6, the next-generation smartphone that’s widely expected to come in two screen sizes — 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch — larger than the current iPhone 5s and 5c. This week brought rumors about the details of Apple’s launch schedule, which many now consider all but confirmed, the new models’ battery capacity, and details on possible improvements like faster WiFi, the speedy A8 processor, an improved Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and an NFC chip. Here are four rumors that have made their rounds this week.
1. iPhone 6 Launch Date Reported
The source: Multiple reports on Tuesday — starting with one by Re/Code’s John Paczkowski and then corroborated by unnamed sources at The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg – said that Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 6 at a large media event scheduled for September 9. That’s the second Tuesday of the month — the same day of the year that the iPhone 5s and 5c debuted last year. The reports reiterated rumors that the iPhone 6 will be released in a 4.7-inch and a 5.5-inch model, and will feature faster A8 processors, but didn’t comment on whether or not the two models will be released simultaneously.
The background: The reported date of the press event for the iPhone 6 is consistent with the timing of Apple’s launches of previous iPhone generations, which have all seen September debuts. None of the reports gave a specific date as to when sources expect the iPhone 6 to go on sale, but noted that a new phone is typically announced in early or mid-September and then offered to consumers within the space of a few weeks. Forbes noted that if Apple makes the phone available to the public on the same schedule as with previous releases, the iPhone 6 would be available to own on September 19, the Friday of the week following the public announcement.
The reports also didn’t comment on the much-rumored production issues that Apple may be facing with the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 model. A number of rumors have suggested that the larger model will not be released at the same time as the 4.7-inch version. While some earlier rumors pushed the release date of the 5.5-inch model back as far as 2015, a shorter delay and less dramatically staggered debut could be consistent with last year’s launch of the iPad Air, which was available for sale 10 days before the second-generation iPad mini with Retina display went on sale.
Additionally, the launch of the iPhone 6 is expected to begin Apple’s cycle of updating its other product lines. A variety of reports have Apple preparing to launch both new products and entirely new product categories, such as one that would be defined by the rumored iWatch, a fitness and health-oriented wearable device expected to integrate with iOS 8′s new Health application.
2. 4.7-Inch Model Could Feature 2,100 mAh Battery
The source: A new rumor about the iPhone 6′s battery life might give some hope to Apple devotees hoping that their new iPhone will last a little longer between charges. ESM-China analyst Sun Chang Xu posted on Chinese social media site Sina Weibo that the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 will feature a 2,100 mAh battery, rather than the lower capacity battery previously believed to be intended for the model.
The Weibo post was spotted by G for Games, which noted that a previously leaked photo suggested that the 4.7-inch model would be equipped with a 1,810 mAh battery. But according to Sun Chang Xu’s supply chain resources, units with the less powerful battery were used for testing purposes only — and sources believe that the final phone will reportedly ship with the more robust battery.
The background: The move to a 2,100 mAh battery would represent a 45.8 percent increase over the 1,560 mAh battery with which the current iPhone 5s is equipped. While some of the increase is likely necessary just to keep performance on par with the iPhone’s current battery life — the display of the iPhone 5s measures only 4 inches, compared to the expected 4.7 inches of the new model in question — it’s possible that Apple is looking to improve the battery life. But it’s important to note that other enhanced features are very likely to also drain battery life, and whether a larger battery will actually bring improved battery life isn’t clear.
The increase in battery size would rely on an increase in internal space, created either by the larger display or by a decrease in the size of other components. It’s impossible to know which battery the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 will ship with, and the decision was likely a careful one for Apple. The company’s choice of battery for the iPhone is by nature an area fraught with compromise. A more robust battery takes up more space, leading to a thicker and heavier phone, while a battery with more modest capacity will sacrifice usage time for the sake of a thinner phone.
3. Faster WiFi, A8 Chip and Improved Fingerprint Reader “Confirmed”
The source: Apple may be bringing faster WiFi, an improved fingerprint reader, and an A8 chip to the iPhone 6. In a response and purported confirmation of a variety of rumors on the iPhone 6, VentureBeat quoted a source who confirmed Apple’s plans to release a 4.7-inch model and a 5.5-inch model, and said that the 4.7-inch model would be ready to ship by mid-September, while the 5.5-inch model will be ready to ship several weeks or up to a month later.
Apple has been rumored to be switching to sapphire glass for the iPhone 6 screens, but VentureBeat’s source refuted those reports, and said that the new screens will be made of an unspecified material that’s slightly harder than Gorilla Glass, though not as hard as sapphire glass. The source also confirmed that the phones will include a multi-core A8 chip, which will reportedly run at 2.0 GHz per core (as compared to the current A7 chip that runs at only 1.3 GHz per core.) Additionally, the new iPhones are believed to support 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and come equipped with Qualcomm’s latest MDM9x35 modem and an NXP near field communication chip — which the source rather questionably claims Apple will use to support mobile payments.
Apple will also reportedly improve the Touch ID fingerprint reader in the new phones for faster read times, fewer false rejections, and better security. Lastly, the source said that Apple is experimenting with a technology that would form a “handshake” between iPhones and Beats headphones via a chip to authenticate the headsets using the Lightning connector.
The background: VentureBeat’s report that Apple will release the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 in mid-September is corroborated by this week’s reports that the phone will be unveiled on September 9. The reported delay in the release of the larger, 5.5-inch model is also generally consistent with a range of other rumors and reports, though cites a shorter delay than many of the others.
The claim that Apple will not use sapphire glass for iPhone 6 screens is consistent with a recent report by TrendForce, which said that Apple won’t be prepared to release large numbers of phones with sapphire glass due to low ingot yield rates and other production issues. However, the volume of sapphire production at Apple’s Arizona facility points to the heavy use of the material for a product beyond the rumored iWatch, so it’s unclear whether we can really rule out the possibility that the material will be used for one model of the iPhone 6.
The source’s report that the iPhone 6 will feature an NFC chip is consistent with a purportedly leaked logic board, which pointed to the possibility of NFC integration, and the chip manufacturer was unknown prior to VentureBeat’s report. But the claim that Apple will use NFC as a protocol for a mobile payments solution is questionable. Apple’s introduction of a digital wallet has long been rumored, with some suggesting that Apple will adopt the NFC technology. But more recent reports suggest that Apple is more likely to use a Bluetooth or WiFi-based solution instead, and build out its iBeacon technology.
Regarding the tech to facilitate a handshake between the iPhone and Beats headphones, the report sounds similar to the Lightning-enabled headphone standard that Apple announced at its recent Worldwide Developers Conference. The protocol would see compatible headphones used for deeper system control, direct analog audio out, and even power.
VentureBeat’s sources haven’t been particularly reliable in the past, and the source consulted for the current report also qualifies his or her claims with a note that the features may not make it to the final version of the iPhone 6.
4. 5.5-Inch Model Could Get a Faster Processor Than 4.7-Inch
The source: AppleInsider obtained a report by Cowen & Co. analyst Timothy Arcuri, who predicted that the larger model of the iPhone 6 could feature a faster processor than the smaller model. Though Arcuri didn’t provide details on the specifications, the move would be consistent with the disparities in Apple’s past product launches, such as the difference between the 1.39 GHz of the iPad Air’s A7 processor and the 1.29 GHz at which the processor in the iPad Mini with Retina display is clocked.
Arcuri also noted that the processor in the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 model could ship with a larger die, which could indicate that that model will feature additional on-die silicon, for example, a larger array of graphics processing cores. It could also simply suggest that the two chips, widely believed to be A8 chips, are being manufactured at different facilities or using different processes. Arcuri also believes that the two iPhone 6 models could come equipped with different touch modules.
The background: From the simple standpoint of differentiating the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 from the 4.7-inch, including a faster processor in the larger model seems to make sense.
A previous rumor reported by the Korea Economic Daily and picked up by AppleInsider claimed that Apple would split the manufacturing of the iPhone 6′s next-generation A8 chips between Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and Samsung. At the time, it was thought that Samsung had received an order to produce between 30 and 40 percent of the system, and sources explained that difficulties in the fabrication process of the system-on-chip prompted Apple to turn to Samsung.
That was after Apple was rumored to be switching away from Samsung once the contract between the two expired, but before further rumors surfaced that Apple had awarded TSMC the full contract, instead of splitting the production between TSMC and Samsung.
Samsung has supplied Apple’s A-series chips since the 2007 launch of the first iPhone, and has also manufactured components such as displays and RAM modules. Since 2007, the two have become rivals and engaged in a fierce patent dispute. Though Apple is looking to move away from Samsung as a supplier, Samsung is reportedly one of the few companies capable of producing the advanced components needed for Apple’s devices.