If there is one thing Apple loves, its secrecy. The Cupertino-based company is famous for keeping product releases hush-hush until a week or so before it is released to the public. That being said, entire communities have formed around the sole purpose of uncovering and revealing Apple's secrets about upcoming products. Recently, these communities have focused on the iPhone 6, which should be released sometime toward the end of September or early October. The purpose of this post is to review the prevailing rumors around the web as well as to explore some of the more obscure ones.
What We Know (Sort Of)
Screen size, screen size, screen size. That is the prevailing rumor in regard to the iPhone 6. From various sources and leaks from companies involved with Apple's manufacturing supply chain, it appears that Apple will produce two different sizes of the iPhone 6. The rumors point toward both a 4.7" and a 5.5" screen. Compared to the 4" screen of the iPhone 5, 5c and 5s - this would be a 17.5% and a 37.5% increase, respectively. Recent rumors also suggest the possibility of Apple naming the larger model the iPhone 6L. This screen size upgrade makes sense for Apple as they attempt to capture a portion of the consumer market that prefers the larger screens on popular Android phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the new HTC One.
image courtesy of MacRumors
Another rumor that we can be fairly certain will be a reality in the iPhone 6 is a faster processor. Historically, Apple upgrades the processor in the iPhone with each update. I do not expect the 6's processor to be as significant of an upgrade as the upgrade from the iPhone 5 to the iPhone 5s - which bumped the processor from a 32-bit to a 64-bit architecture. However, we should expect to see the A8 processor (the iPhone 5s runs an A7) in the new phones. Some common rumors point toward a 2.0GHz processor, which would actually be a sizable increase compared to the 1.3GHz A7 in the iPhone 5s. According to appleinsider.com, Samsung will handle the manufacturing of the A8 chip, but it is possible that Samsung will share the production of the A8 with TSMC, a Taiwan-based semiconductor company that has manufactured chips for Apple in the past.
The Less Prevalent & More Obscure Rumors
This rumor is one that I'm particularly intrigued by and would love to see in the upcoming iPhone. While these wireless-charging rumors were more prevalent earlier this Spring and Summer, they have settled down recently. Essentially, wireless charging would consist of a hub that is connected to a wall jack. That hub would wirelessly connect to an iPhone and charge it as long as the phone is in range and the hub is plugged-in. This rumor originally surface in 2012 when Apple filed a patent for "Wireless Power Utilization in a Local Computing Environment."
Apple would not be a first mover in the smartphone industry in respect to wireless charging as several manufacturers including HTC, Nokia and Samsung have implemented a wireless charging standard, Qi Wireless Charging Technology, in their phones. However, this standard relies on a third-party charging hub by Qi that is not included with purchase of the phone. If the iPhone 6 wireless charging rumors are true, it will be interesting to see if Apple choses to implement the Qi standard or produce their own wireless charging technology in-house. My money is on the latter.
Reversible USB Lightning Cable
When Apple released the iPhone 5 in September of 2014, it introduced a new charger - the Lightning cable. Along with faster charging, a big feature of the new cable was that it could be inserted into the iPhone both ways - contrary to the previous 30-pin charging cable. While it might sound gimmicky, this feature actually relieved a lot of frustration amongst consumers. One recent rumor is that Apple will extend this reversibility of the charger cable to the USB end as well. Apple filed a patent in July of this year for a reversible USB connector and since then, a few videos and photos of the reversible cable have surfaced, including the one below - courtesy of Sonny Dickson. Whether this cable will include any other features besides reversibility is unknown, but a few rumors suggest that it will support high-definition audio playback.
Currently, Apple uses Gorilla Glass in the production of the iPhone screen. Gorilla Glass is a toughened and rugged glass manufactured by Corning Inc. Rumors surfaced earlier this year indicating that Apple will be switching it's glass manufacturing sourcing from Gorilla Glass to Sapphire Glass. Sapphire Glass is manufactured using actual sapphire crystal but all the impurities are removed, which makes the end-product transparent instead of the typical purple, red, or yellow hues that sapphire crystals are commonly associated with. Sapphire Glass is toted to be scratch-proof and far more durable than Gorilla Glass. For the Sapphire Glass production, Apple is looking to GT Advanced Technologies Inc. It is a for-sure thing that Apple has invested in Sapphire Glass furnaces and production of the glass is already underway. Whether Apple will be using Sapphire in the upcoming iPhone 6 or if they will use it for other product screens remains unclear.
NFC stands for near field communications. NFC allows smartphones to make short-proximity, wireless connections with other devices. It is commonly used in contactless payments systems and is integrated in many new credit cards issued by Visa, American Express, Wells Fargo and more. Other uses for NFC include establishing a Bluetooth connection with other devices and the ability to share files and media between two NFC-enabled devices. Samsung, Nokia, Blackberry and Sony have implemented NFC chips in smartphones in the past. This rumor of NFC chip integration has been prevalent in previous iPhone releases and it is no different this year. This year, however, the rumors carry more weight considering that Apple is also rumored to be working on a mobile payments system in conjunction with Visa. Here is a video, courtesy of practicalNFC, that describes how NFC works in the Android environment.