The iPhone upgrade cycle used to run like clockwork. Every year we get a new iPhone, and this year we’ll see either the iPhone 5S or the iPhone 6. But when will it arrive?
Will the iPhone 6 be the Apple phone of 2013, or 2014? We don’t know as yet. But here’s everything we do know about the next iPhone to date.
This article is based on rumour. We’ll update it as more information becomes available.
Updated March 2013
iPhone 6 Name
For a clue as to whether the next iPhone will be called iPhone 5S or iPhone 6, we only have to look to the past. No “numerical” generation of the iPhone series has gone without an iterative “S” brother. The iPhone 3G had the 3GS. The iPhone 4 had the 4S.
Will the iPhone 5 have the 5S? It’s likely it will, pointing towards a 2014 release of the iPhone 6.
However, Apple might do something completely different too.
With the latest iPad, Apple effectively ditched the numbering of its full-size tablet. It’s not called the iPad 4, rather the iPad with Retina Display. Some have argued this was to dull the negative reception it might get from iPad 3 owners – that tablet was launched just six months prior to the current model.
Will the iPhone be known simply as “iPhone” from 2013? We honestly hope not, but it’s a possibility.
Some analysts have also suggested that both the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 will launch in 2013 – the former being the budget alternative to the iPhone 6.
iPhone 6 Release Date
The most important question with any iPhone release is – when are we going to get it? Apple’s last phone launch happened in September 2012.
There are a few points this year that are obvious dates for the next iPhone to arrive. WWDC takes place in June, and is a developer conference where big Apple announcements have previously been made. February 2013 was a former rumour, but it’s a bit late for that one to come true. There’s also the 12-month-post-iPhone 5 mark in September.
Rumours indicating both of these dates are pretty common, but we’ll have to wait for the event invites to ship out for a solid indication of what’s really going on.
iPhone 6 Screen
What screen will the iPhone 6 have? At this point, it’s about as clear as the display of a smashed iPhone.
Last year, rumours of an iPhone Math edition surfaced. This is reportedly a code-name for the iPhone 6, and is a device that sports a 4.8-inch screen. That is much larger than the 4-inch display of the current iPhone 5.
Some have dismissed the iPhone Math as a concept device that may never see the light of day. For every iPhone released, there will be dozens of prototypes in Apple’s labs that never see the light of an Apple Store.
The technology that should be on your watch list for any future Apple devices is IGZO. This is a Sharp-designed screen technology that’s optimised for high energy efficiency and ultra-high screen resolutions. The rumour was published by MacRumours in late 2012, sourced by an industry analyst.
iPhone 6 Storage
One of the most likely changes in the next generations of the iPhone is an increase in storage. No, you won’t get a memory card slot but it’s likely that Apple will start offering a 128GB iPhone.
Without even referring to analysts or rumour sites, Apple has already foreshadowed this change with the 128GB iPad. There are other clues, though. Hidden references to a 128GB exist within iOS 6.1, and they’re not specific to the iPad. However, it’s also possible that Apple will leave the 128GB storage for iPads alone in 2013.
iPhone 6 CPU
The CPU that will feature in the iPhone 6 depends largely on when it’ll be launched. For now we’ll assume that there will be an iPhone 5S, making the 6 edition another generation away.
According to repeat rumour offender DigiTimes, Apple is working on a new chipset architecture for the iPhone 6, leaving the current Apple A6 to rock it in the iPhone 5S. The big change in the planned Apple A7 processor is that it uses a more advanced manufacturing process.
The Apple A6 chipset uses a 32nm architecture, where the A7 reportedly is 20nm. Nm stands for Nanometre, and relates to the size of the components in a CPU. The lower the number, the more transistors that can fit into the space of the chip – giving more theoretical power potential.
What’s just as important in a phone SoC (system on chip) is the GPU, which we know less about. The new chipset will start going in production this year, to feature in devices late in the year, or in 2013. Unless DigiTimes is just making it all up, of course.
iPhone 6 iOS 7 Software
Where Apple gets the most flak these days is for its software. Recently, Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins spoke out to say he thinks iOS is dated next to its rivals. Although you’d expect Heins to say that as an Apple rival, he does have a point. iOS hasn’t really changed that much since the system was introduced in 2007.
MG Siegler, Apple correspondent for TechCrunch has received insider word that “some fairly significant changes to the design within some key apps and system-level elements, but overall, don’t expect a hugely different iOS.”
Although Apple has not released any teaser information about what to expect from iOS 7, the man in the driving seat is a good indication of what we’ll get. Jonathan Ive is in charge these days, and he is all about minimalist style. He was the lead designer of the hardware of the MacBook pro, iMac, Macbook Air, the original iPod and… virtually all of Apple’s hardware.
Ive is likely to remove any slightly cheesy elements from iOS to give it a more stark, stylish look. The question is whether this is enough – a pared-back approach may suggest that the workings and features of the system may not change all that much.