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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.

Return of the "c"?
Caldwell: Before 2013, Apple relied on its previous-year models to serve as the lower-cost entry point for the iPhone; then, last year, the company introduced the iPhone 5c. Internally the same as the 5 with a candy-colored plastic outer shell, the 5c caught a lot of flak from financial analysts for not meeting demand the way they might have hoped. But not only is it silly to base a product line's future on analyst response, Apple's own Tim Cook spoke very highly of the 5c during the company's most recent financials call, describing the model as having "the highest growth during the quarter we just finished, of the three [iPhone] tiers."

I wouldn't buy a c-model myself, but I know plenty of friends who would. Last year's iPhone in a colorful package makes a pretty good smartphone for most of the population--especially if it features Touch ID. But there's also a financial argument to be made for just keeping the iPhone 5s around and not fitting its internals into an "iPhone 6c."

Breen: Apple slaps an initial after the model number every other year--iPhone 4 then 4S, iPhone 5 and 5s and 5c. I expect this year's model will be a straight 6 with the company possibly maintaining the older 5 models.

Your virtual wallet
Caldwell: The industry has been talking about the possibility of an iPhone digital wallet initiative since 2011, when Near Field Communication (NFC) began to make a splash in the smartphone world. Since then, we've seen Apple roll out Passbook, which can hold things like loyalty cards and airline passes, and heard no end of rumors about iBeacon's potential in local store interactions.

I certainly wouldn't be surprised to see more of your wallet accessible via iOS 8 and a new iPhone: Apple's been laying the groundwork with Passbook and by opening up Touch ID's security measures to third-party apps, and the company already lets you store credit card information inside iCloud Keychain (you just have to memorize your security code). And I've been paying for items in many places around Boston thanks to apps like LevelUp.

Moren: Don't bet the farm on NFC. Rumors have had Apple adding the wireless technology to their iPhones for years, and it's never panned out. The simple truth is that the infrastructure just isn't there, and there are plenty of other ways to handle mobile payments, including things like Passbook. While mobile payments remains a volatile space--especially in the wake of events like the Target hack and other security vulnerabilities--it's still a nascent one, as well. These days, people are pretty comfortable buying things through apps, but we still haven't quite reached the pay-with-phone levels you'll find in countries like Japan. I'd expect a play from Apple on this at some point, but perhaps not this year.


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