The 4.7-inch display
When the iPhone debuted in 2007, its 3.5-inch screen was the big kid in the schoolyard. By the time the iPhone 5 arrived in September 2012, however, its upsized 4-inch display was unremarkable in size, having already been surpassed by numerous Android and Windows Phone models. Well, rumor has it the iPhone 6 will come in two flavors, including a “smaller” unit with a 4.7-inch display. It’s no surprise that Apple is finally joining the game. The HTC One X, LG Optimus G, Motorola Razr HD, Samsung Galaxy S3 (actually 4.8 inches), and other phones went this big about two years ago.
The larger iPhone 6 model reportedly will have a 5.5-inch display, placing it smack-dab in phablet land. The phone/tablet hybrid, of course, isn’t new. Its origins date back a few years to oversized mobile phones such as the Dell Streak/Mini and the first-generation Samsung Galaxy Note. The Android-based Dell phablet came in 5- and 7-inch models. It didn’t last long; critics slammed it for being bulky, acting buggy, and having a lousy display. The Galaxy Note, despite withering early reviews, proved a global hit with consumers seeking an all-in-one mobile device. The original Note had a 5.3-inch screen; the latest Note 3 model measures 5.7 inches, and some devices have passed the 6-inch mark.
Battle of the thinnest
The iPhone 6 is expected to be Apple’s thinnest smartphone to date, with some reports claiming its svelteness will rival that of the 6.1-millimeter iPod Touch. (By comparison, the iPhone 5s is a relatively chunky 7.6 mm.) But even if the iPhone 6 matches the iPod Touch’s boney build, it won’t be the world’s thinnest phone. Two Android handsets from China are thinner, in fact: The 5.5-mm Gionee Elife S5.5, and the 5.75-mm Vivo X3. And the iPhone 6 may tie for third place with the Huawei Ascend P6, which is just under 6.2-mm thick. Each of these phones is ridiculously thin, of course, so any “world’s thinnest” boast might seem silly, particularly if the slimness impacts the performance of other essential tools, most notably the camera.
Full HD resolution
The 5.5-inch iPhone 6 reportedly will have a full HD display, or 1,920-by-1,080 pixels (401 pixels per inch). The 4.7-inch model is expected to have a 1,334-by-750 pixel display (326 ppi). Good specs, certainly, but not enough to earn Apple high-res bragging rights. Today’s smartphone with the highest screen resolution is the LG G3, which starts shipping this month. The G3’s 5.5-inch display has an amazing 2,560-by-1,440 resolution (538 ppi). If you’re shopping for 4K smartphones, sorry — looks like you have to wait until next year.
Here’s an April rumor that seems increasingly unlikely as the iPhone 6 launch date nears: The device will feature a curved display with rounded corners. The perceived benefits are that a curved shape would fit better in the human hand or a rear pocket, and would offer better viewing angles. If true, the iPhone 6 wouldn’t be the first curvaceous smartphone. The LG G Flex is a curvy phablet with a 6-inch OLED screen, and the Samsung Galaxy Round shows the time and other notifications when you tilt the phone to one side (when the home screen is off). Bottom line: Don’t expect a curved iPhone 6. A recent flurry of images from Apple-centric rumor sites show a more conventional, flat design.
Optical image stabilization
A report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, a prolific and generally reliable source of Apple rumors, says the larger (5.5-inch) iPhone 6 will include optical image stabilization (OIS), a feature that reduces image blur by shifting the camera lens to adjust for movement of the device. OIS would be a first for iOS devices, but not for smartphone cameras. For instance, the Nokia Lumia 1020, which debuted in July 2013 and is best known for its jaw-dropping 41-megapixel sensor, features OIS. So did the now-discontinued Nokia Lumia 920, which arrived in November 2012. One challenge for Apple is how to improve the iPhone’s camera while reducing the device’s thickness. In April, 9to5Mac reported that some analysts believe Apple has chosen an ultra-thin frame over OIS. Might it achieve both?
At long last, NFC?
Another year, another prediction that Apple will add near field communication (NFC) technology to the iPhone. NFC hasn’t exactly fulfilled its potential at becoming the next big thing in mobile payments or data sharing. It’s pretty much been a dud, in fact, despite being embraced by a wide mix of merchants, banks, and Android device vendors. Apple, quite conspicuously, has been absent from the roster of NFC backers; rather it has been promoting its Bluetooth Low Energy-based iBeacon technology as a mobile payment solution. But that may change with the iPhone 6, according to MacRumors, including KFI Securities’ analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. If the rumor is valid, an NFC-enabled iPhone would come three years after early adopters like the Android-based LG Optimus Net (above).