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iPhone 6: what we know, what we don't know, what we'd like to see

Macworld Staff | July 29, 2014
Apple hasn't officially announced the next version of the iPhone, but that hasn't stopped the rumor mill from going crazy over it. Here are the facts, the rumors, and some reasoned guesses about what it'll be like.

Like Serenity, though, I hope that, assuming Apple does offer the next iPhone in two larger sizes, the company lets you get all the best specs and features in either size. It would stink if you got the best only by buying the biggest.

Sapphire is a smartphone's best friend
Caldwell: Much has been made of Apple's recent glassware experiments (and I'm not talking about the dinnerware at Caffè Macs). The company currently uses Corning's Gorilla Glass for its iOS device displays, but there have been quite a few rumors floating around that this may change for a new, stronger option: sapphire.

Apple already uses sapphire crystal for the top layer of its Touch ID sensor and the outer lens of its iPhone 5s camera; the material is second only to diamond in toughness and scratch-resistance, though its price and difficulty to cut have kept it from being used for displays. But that may change: Last November, Apple opened its own sapphire plant, and the company's filed several patents that relate to the creation and cutting of sapphire screens. I'm not prepared to say that the iPhone 6 will absolutely 100 percent have a sapphire screen, but I wouldn't be surprised if we saw more sapphire crystal on the device in the fall.

Moren: If sapphire is anything as tough as it's been reputed, then it's easy to see why Apple would want to replace its Gorilla Glass with the harder material. Broken glass has to be one of the most common types of damage to iPhones (especially the 4/4s models, which have both glass fronts and backs). Not that Apple doesn't mind charging for repairing that glass, but I'm sure they'd like to please their customers by not having to undertake such replacements quite as often.

The real question is whether Apple can get the cost curve down far enough to make sapphire a good value. Given the company's investment in GT Advanced Technologies, it seems pretty clear that the company sees a real future in that material. Whether that will translate immediately into the frontpiece of the iPhone 6 is harder to tell, but I'm betting on yes.

Speed demons
Breen: Should you wish to get into the prognostication business you'll find that you can't lose when predicting that Apple will release faster, more energy efficient, and thinner devices. Given that, the iPhone 6 will likely sport a faster processor, better camera, and (unless a larger screen demands a significant increase in power) better or just-as-good battery life.

Caldwell: Given Apple's obsession with making speedier and speedier A-series chips, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw an A8 make its debut in the new iPhone this fall. Bigger device form factors would also give our friends in Cupertino some room for bigger, higher-capacity batteries--though it's hard to say whether that would just compensate for the power draws of a larger Retina screen or actually add to battery life. As someone who lives with a Mophie Juice Pack on her iPhone right now, however, I'm crossing my fingers for legitimate battery improvements.


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