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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.

Time for some more memory
Frakes: Speaking of memory, the current iPhone sports a measly 1GB of RAM. Now, that's nothing to sneeze at--or at least it wasn't a few years ago. These days, however, more and more apps, especially games and media apps, are memory hungry, and pairing 1GB of memory with a beefy processor such as the A7 feels like tying one of the iPhone's metaphorical hands behind its back. A good number of the iPhone's competitors currently ship with 2GB of RAM, and processor geeks point out that iOS can't fully take advantage of the iPhone's 64-bit processor without 4GB. Here's hoping that the next iPhone levels up when it comes to RAM.

The co-processing train
Caldwell: The iPhone 5s's M7 co-processor was a welcome surprise when it debuted last year to help track user motion and walking data without killing battery life. Since then, we've also seen similar features from Android smartphone manufacturers that help with audio processing and step-counting. While I doubt Apple's next iPhone is going to become co-processor central, it certainly makes sense to me to develop some sort of low-power processing engine for things like Siri--especially given iOS 8's "Hey Siri" feature.

The best pocket camera
Breen: I think a point-and-shoot camera must have once frightened the iPhone development team as children. How else can you explain Apple's desire to make the vast majority of these things obsolete? What with better resolution, more shooting options (including video), and the ability to tweak camera settings to a far greater degree in iOS 8, it's getting more and more difficult to argue that carrying a separate easy-does-it camera makes sense. The iPhone 6 will undoubtedly bring camera improvements because that's part and parcel of iPhone upgrades.

Caldwell: True, Chris. Apple has long used its top-of-the-line iPhone to push forth new camera features--both in its software and hardware. The iPhone 3GS offered tap-to-focus and SD video; the iPhone 4 made that video HD and added a front-facing camera; the 4s upped picture quality and gave its lens a wider aperture; the 5 tweaked low-light capabilities and gave us panorama shots; and the iPhone 5s brought slow-motion video and a better LED flash to the table.

All of that says to me that the next top-level iPhone will almost certainly have some sort of camera improvements. A better sensor is the obvious bet--Apple's competitors have almost all risen above the 8-megapixel sensor in the iPhone 5s, and it wouldn't be too much trouble to swap it out for a 10- or 12-megapixel component. I also expect to see iOS 8's new Timelapse feature demonstrated during the iPhone announcement--like Slo-Mo before it, it's a neat little software feature that could very easily demonstrate the power behind Apple's next handset.

 

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