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iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S: What to expect

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Will the next iPhone be worth the upgrade?

The iPhone 6 is coming. We’re surely just weeks away from its launch, and it could prove to be one of Apple’s most interesting phones to date.

Set to change the iPhone design even more than the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 did by making the screen bigger and changing the body shape, Apple could be set to take some really big risks this year. But how does it compare to the current model, the iPhone 5S? Here are the changes we’re expecting to see this September, when the phone is hotly tipped to launch.

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5s: 5.5-inch and 4.7-inch versionsBlue line

The big news for the 2014 iPhone is that we are apparently going to get more than one version. Two different sized iPhones are rumoured, and they are both bigger than the current 4-inch iPhone 5S.

The version we’ve seen leaked all around town is the 4.7-inch iPhone 6. There have been front glass panels leaked, case components shown off and even full-on dummies used by case manufacturers to prep their accessories ahead of time. All these leaks point towards a 4.7-inch iPhone.

A 5.5-inch iPhone 6 has also been rumoured, although there are suggestions it may be delayed, and that we won’t see it alongside the 4.7-inch version in September.

What will a 4.7-inch iPhone feel like? Quite different from the current iPhone 5S, by the looks of it. Apple doesn’t appear to be using a razor-thin bezel like the LG G3, meaning the phone will be a bit wider than the current iPhone. To date Apple has always been very careful to avoid making its iPhone feel in any way inaccessible – even small hands can hold them easily enough. Things are changing.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S

iPhone 6 3
Images courtesy of Marques Brownlee

It would be just about impossible to make a 5.5-inch iPhone that everyone could use comfortably one-handed. However, there are suggestions that the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 will be predominantly for the Asian markets, where such large phones are a bit more popular than they are here in Europe. That’s not to say people in the UK and US don’t love a big mobile, though – you only need to look at the sales of the Galaxy Note 3 to know that. 

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5s: A bump up to 1704 x 960 resolutionBlue line

In order to keep the iPhone 5 display Retina-sharp while making the screen larger, Apple will have to significantly bump-up the resolution of the iPhone 6. The most commonly – and believably – rumoured spec is a 1,704 x 960 pixel screen.

This sounds like an awkward resolution, but is actually just 1.5 times the number of pixels vertically and horizontally, compared to the iPhone 5S. The current model has a 1136 x 640 pixel screen. By keeping the resolution fairly consistent with the older models, Apple will be able to make all previous iPhone apps compatible with the new models – they’ll just need to be scaled upwards.

Why not use a Full HD 1080p display? It would involve upping the resolution in, for example, a game by a factor of 1.69. And as this is much less regular than the 1.5x upscale we’ll see in the iPhone 6, you’d see many more scaling artefacts. In order words, apps not designed specifically for the screen would look rubbish.

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5s: Sapphire glass is inBlue line

We’re also expecting to see a different kind of glass used for the front of the iPhone 6’s display. Apple doesn’t talk much about the kind of tempered glass used in the iPhone 5S. We know it’s toughened, we just don’t know exactly who is behind making it. In previous iPhones, Apple has admitted to using Corning’s Gorilla Glass.

However, a great deal of the rumours surrounding the iPhone 6 discuss whether or not it is going to use Sapphire Glass. Who’d have thought everyone would get so excited not about the screen but what sits on top of it?


SEE ALSO: iOS 8 vs iOS 7 - What's New?



Sapphire Glass is made by GT Advanced Technologies, and is a rival to Gorilla Glass 3, which is used in a great many high-end phones at present.

What’s the big deal? The hope is that Sapphire will prove to be more resilient because it is somewhat harder, more scratch-proof than Gorilla Glass 3. There’s an obvious counter-argument – that your phone screen’s real issue is not scratching, but shattering. How many shattered iPhones have you seen out on the street? We’ve seen loads.

This is Corning’s defence, as its Gorilla Glass 3 is actually more resilient under pressure than the harder Sapphire glass. However, it’s not quite that simple. Shattering is often caused by scratches weakening the glass, making it more susceptible to shattering when you do eventually drop the phone. Who’s right? We’ll have to wait and see, but Apple rarely chases technologies without there being something pretty worthwhile behind it.

Apple has a history with Sapphire Glass too. It’s used to cover the camera lens and Home button in the iPhone 5S, but not for the phone’s front as it was simply too expensive until now apparently. A few phones have used Sapphire Glass, but they tend to be ridiculously expensive like the £7,000 Vertu Ti. Hopefully the iPhone 6 won’t be quite that pricey.

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5s: Slightly altered design, with added curvesBlue line

The iPhone 6 may end up with harder glass than the iPhone 5S, but the design is actually a lot softer. Where the iPhone 5S has quite hard edges, the iPhone 6 has curved ones, which should help mitigate the larger size of the phone a bit.

While some have compared the leaked prototype dummies of the iPhone 6 to the HTC One M8, it’s also quite similar to the design of the current iPod touch. For the last couple of years, it has used a curved aluminium body. Now the iPhone is getting in on the design.

SEE ALSO: iPhone 6 Concepts - Best and worst we've seen


iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5s: Around 6mm thin, iPod touch thin

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An important part of the new iPhone 6 blueprint is that it’ll get the phone get even slimmer. The current iPhone 5S is 7.6mm thick but a leaked dummy unit suggests the iPhone 6 will be about 6mm thick.

That’s incredibly slim, although not without precedent. The aluminium-bodied Huawei Ascend P7 is 6.2mm thick, showing that metal phones this slim are possible.

There are two main concerns when you try and make a phone that slim, though – battery life and overheating. With not that much space to work with, slim phones tend to have issues with both. However, we expect Apple will put plenty of effort into filling every available spare bit of the phone’s insides with battery.

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5s: Apple A7 to A8 CPUBlue line

While there are going to be plenty of huge differences between the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6, processor power is actually one of the more conservative upgrades. The issue is that Apple already made a big leap in moving to a 64-bit architecture with the iPhone 5S.

Apple’s A8 CPU, rumoured to be what will power the iPhone 6, will be a dual-core 2GHz processor according to BGR, up from dual-core 1.3GHz in the iPhone 5S.  However, it’s also worth noting that the scale of the architecture has altered too.

We could reportedly be moving form a 28nm architecture to a 20nm one, which is what will let the phone be efficient enough to offer decent stamina while being just 6mm thick. It will bring extra power too, though, which is what will help the phone keep up with and surpass the iPhone 5S while increasing resolution.

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S: Camera to get 13-megapixel upgradeBlue line

There have been relatively few rumours about the iPhone 6’s camera, but a recent one from July is pretty juicy. It suggests the phone will have a 13-megapixel main camera sensor, up from the iPhone 5S’s 8-megapixel one. Apple has resisted increasing sensor resolution for an age now – the iPhone 4S had an 8-megapixel sensor way back in 2011.

Why now? It’s down to the kind of mobile sensor that’s now available. The sensor the iPhone 6 is rumoured to use is a Sony IMX220, its latest generation of chip, which we may also see in the Sony Xperia Z3.

This is a 1/2.3-inch sensor that’s even bigger than the ones in the Lumia 930 and Galaxy S5. It’s pretty massive, for a phone. The iPhone 5S has a 1/3.06-inch sensor.

The leak also suggests the iPhone 6 will be able to record video at 3,840 x 1,080 pixel resolution. However, as this is effectively two 1080p videos sandwiched together it seems far more likely that the phone will be able to shoot in resolutions up to 4K, much like the top Android phones.

iPhone 6 vs iPhone 5S: iOS 8 is comingBlue line

The hardware is going to be upgraded across the board, but what about the software? Apple has already unveiled iOS 8, the software that’ll be released alongside the iPhone 6 if we take the past as an indication.

iOS 8 will come to the iPhone 5S as well as the iPhone 6. But we have plenty of new features to look forward to. These include Apple Healthkit, interactive notifications, new predictive texting and group threads in text chat for iMessage.

Healthkit is a system that records information from the phone’s sensors and any external sensors like smart bands, for viewing in the Healthkit app or to pass onto other apps. Elsewhere, new interactive notifications will let you do things like reply to text messages without actually having to leave the app you’re in – you’ll be able to do it all from the notifications bar.

Early Verdict: Worth an upgrade?

As we hoped, the iPhone 6 is looking set to be a much more conspicuous upgrade than the iPhone 5S was. With an exciting new camera, a larger screen and a rather different design in the offing, the iPhone 6 could really shake things up.

Will it still be as easy to hold as the iPhone 5S? This is our biggest worry about the iPhone 6, but we’ll have to wait until September to see if it’s an issue or not.

Next, read our pick of the top iOS 7 tips and tricks

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