4 New Apple iPhone 6 Rumors: Batteries, Sapphire, Haptics, and Chips

John Moore/Getty Images

John Moore/Getty Images

It seems that as the expected September launch date for Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) next-generation iPhone models draws nearer, the number of iPhone 6 rumors and component leaks is steadily increasing. The Apple rumor mill was especially active this past week with the emergence of several big iPhone 6-related stories. Here are the latest iPhone 6 rumors making the rounds this week.

1. The iPhone 6 Battery Will Feature Minor Capacity Boost

The source: As you may have heard, Apple’s upcoming iPhone 6 is widely expected to be released in two versions with larger screen sizes of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches. The significant screen size upgrade is expected to give Apple’s iPhone sales an extra boost this fall since the largest iPhone screen size currently available is only 4 inches. However, Apple customers who may have been hoping for an equally dramatic boost in battery life may be disappointed.

According to Chinese tech site IT168 via GforGames, the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 model will feature a battery with a capacity between 1,800 and 1,900 mAh, while the 5.5-inch model will come equipped with a 2,500 mAh battery. Although this will give the smaller iPhone 6 version about a 15 percent larger battery capacity than the current iPhone 5S/5C batteries, the device’s larger screen may offset any potential gain in overall battery life. The 2,500 mAh capacity battery used for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 is also smaller than the batteries used by many similarly sized competitors. For example, the 5.5-inch LG G3 features a 3,000 mAh battery, while the 5.7-inch Samsung (SSNLF.PK) Galaxy Note 3 uses a 3,200 mAh battery.

The background: Although the rumored iPhone 6 battery capacities are smaller than those used by several other Android-based smartphone makers, it is also possible that Apple is using other methods — such as software improvements — to improve the device’s battery life. Just as Apple has found ways to improve image quality without boosting the iPhone camera’s pixel count, the Cupertino-based company may have also found alternative ways to extend battery life without making the iPhone 6 unnecessarily bulky.

2. Expert: Leaked Sapphire Front Panel ‘Could Well Be’ Legitimate

The source: Earlier this week, Sonny Dickson, Marques Brownlee, and several other Apple leakers posted videos of what was purported to be a sapphire cover for the 4.7-inch iPhone 6. As seen in the video above, the screen appears to withstand significant bending and scraping without developing any cracks or other visible damage. Although it is impossible to confirm if the part depicted in the video is genuine, its credibility was bolstered on Friday when sapphire expert Professor Neil Alford of the department of materials at Imperial College, London told The Guardian that the part “could well be” legitimate. Alford also revealed that Apple had discussed sapphire with him and other experts in the field about eighteen months ago.

The background: Apple’s interest in sapphire was first revealed last November when GT Advanced Technologies (NASDAQ:GTAT) announced in its quarterly earnings report that the iPhone maker had made a $578 million investment in a sapphire manufacturing facility that it runs in Arizona. Additional research done by PTT Research analyst Matt Margolis suggests that Apple now has the capacity to produce enough sapphire for both of the iPhone 6 models as well as the iWatch. The recent sapphire cover videos and Alford’s comments appears to offer more evidence that Apple is indeed introducing sapphire screens in the new iPhone models.

John Moore/Getty Images

John Moore/Getty Images

3. The iPhone 6 Will Feature Advanced Haptics

The source: According to supply chain sources cited by China’s Laoyaoba website via GforGames, Apple’s iPhone 6 may include an advanced haptic feedback technology. While most smartphones already offer a basic form of haptic feedback via one simple vibration, the iPhone 6 will provide various subtle levels of vibrations based on what applications are running and which part of the screen is being touched. The sources also noted that the new haptic feedback motor would be up to three times more expensive than the motor used in previous iPhone models.

The background: Although this feature is not as revolutionary as a sapphire screen or a fingerprint sensor, the advanced haptic technology in the iPhone 6 will be yet another feature that will help set Apple’s devices apart from most of the other smartphones available on the market today. As noted by MacRumors, Apple has previously explored the use of haptic technology in various patent filings, including a filing from 2009 that described a multi-touch display screen with localized tactile feedback.

SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images

SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images

4. Apple Has the Technology: The A8 Processor Will Better, Stronger, Faster

The source: According to a report from China’s CNBeta tech blog via GforGames, Apple’s next-generation A8 processor will push frequencies past the 2.0 GHz threshold. On the other hand, the sources also indicated that Apple would stick with the 64-bit dual-core configuration that is currently used in the A7 processor, rather than implementing a quad-core configuration as some sources had previously reported.

The background: Assuming this report is accurate, it appears that the A8 chip will offer a significant performance improvement over the still impressive A7. As noted by MacRumors, iPhone 5S and iPad mini with Retina display have achieved a per-core clock speed of 1.3 GHz with the A7 processor, while the iPad Air has achieved 1.4 GHz.

An improved performance won’t be the only processor change implemented by Apple this year. According to insider sources cited by The Wall Street Journal, chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (NYSE:TSM) will be manufacturing some of Apple’s A8 processors via a 20-nanometer fabrication process. This is a departure from previous years when Samsung was the sole provider of Apple’s A-series chips.

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