It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on here, but it’s that time of year again! Apple’s annual, iPhone release event is tomorrow and I’m here to sift through all of the rumors so that you have a clear look at what to expect from Tim Cook and Co. I am going to refrain from posting photos because there have been too many different leaked and mocked up photos that have been circulated by the various tech blogs and they may not be anything more than prototypes. Without further ado, let’s jump into what we know for certain is coming tomorrow:
As has been the case (pun intended) since the iPhone 3G, Apple will be continuing its 2 year cycle of changing up the form factor of the iPhone. This year’s change even borrows a little from previous models. To the delight of many Android owners (who like iOS but want a bigger screen), Apple will be increasing the iPhone’s screen size to 4.7″ (from 4″, possibly made of sapphire glass). Naturally, this is going to make the iPhone 6 noticeably bigger than the 5S and that meant Apple had to redesign how all those components fit together and work. The aluminum backing has been redesigned to cover almost the entire rear of the phone. I say almost because Apple had to figure out how to get cell signals past all that unfriendly aluminum. This is what the glass portions on the back of the 5S are for. For the iPhone 6, Jony Ive has designed these (seemingly plastic) antenna breaks in the aluminum backing. Time will tell what these ultimately look like and how well they’ll perform.
As for the internals, we’ll see many of the typical upgrades. The processor will see a bump from the A7 to the A8 (still with 1GB of RAM), which should be a juicy upgrade in performance based on previous years. For the camera, we could see a bump from 8 to 13 megapixels, but Apple could just as well simply upgrade the lens (aperture; optical image stabilization is very likely) and processing capabilities. I highly doubt we’ll see 4K video capabilities, though. Since the screen is bigger, the higher resolution is going to require a bigger battery to power it. The battery isn’t going to be crazy big like some Android flagships have been getting, but it should assuage the feelings of battery inadequacy that iPhone users have felt for years. We might finally see Apple adopt NFC, but that’s dependent on another possibility that I’ll get to in a bit. All in all, the iPhone 6 should be a worthy upgrade for anyone that doesn’t already have the 5S or absolutely must have a larger-screened iPhone.
We got our first glimpse of iOS 8 back at WWDC in June. Apple has already prominently featured some of the big additions to iOS this year including: third-party keyboards, Extensions, Handoff/Continuity (in collaboration with OS X Yosemite), iCloud Drive, Family Sharing, simple audio/video messages, and the new Health app. Craig Federighi will take this time to re-emphasize these features and likely talk about some others that they didn’t have time for at WWDC. We might get a clearer picture of which carriers are going to be supporting Wi-Fi Calling out of the gate, as well as a look at this new wallet-replacement initiative that we keep hearing about. iOS 8 will come pre-installed on the iPhone 6. Craig spent enough time on iOS 8 at WWDC that this announcement won’t take much time at all.
These are pretty easy to predict at this point because of Apple’s adherence to their established patterns. The iPhone is typically available for pre-order on the Friday following the event, with the actual release being the next Friday. This puts an iPhone 6 pre-order and release on September 12th and 19th, respectively. As for iOS 8, Apple has learned from past mistakes and staggered the release of the iOS update with respect to the iPhone release, which minimizes the hit to their servers so that everyone can upgrade on day one. We should see the update for iOS 8 become available on Apple’s servers on September 17th.
One More Thing…
I don’t know if you know this, but this year’s event is being held in a very unique venue. The Flint Center for the Performing Arts is on the campus of De Anza College in Cupertino. This is the very same venue that played host to both the announcement of the original Macintosh and iMac. Needless to say, Apple wouldn’t have moved the event here if they didn’t have something BIG to announce! It’s even been rumored that U2 is going to be part of the festivities tomorrow. This all seems to point to one of the biggest Apple product releases since the iPad: the long-rumored iWatch! Like the iPad launch, we don’t know much about the hardware right now. Apple has done well at keeping parts from leaking out. While it’s probably safe to say it will be packing an Apple-designed processor (possibly a higher powered version of the M7 found in the iPhone 5S), the screen is somewhat up for debate. Anywhere from a 1.6-2.5″, square or round screen made from sapphire glass has been rumored, with no word on resolution. For reference, the previous-gen iPod Nano (the one that had third-party watch bands) had a 1.5″ screen and the current-gen Nano has a 2.5″ screen. One correlation with the iPhone 6 announcement is the inclusion of NFC, which we will either see in both or neither of them. NFC could be a catalyst for Apple’s wallet-replacement initiative, which will likely be part of the new functionality of the Passbook app.
One thing we haven’t heard much about lately are new iPods. The last major update to the iPod line was back in September 2012, when the current-gen iPod Nano and Touch models were released (a small update to the Touch back in June added the iSight camera and color options to the 16GB model). It’s possible, with the iPhone being redesigned, that the iPod Touch could see a similar redesign. The Shuffle hasn’t been updated since 2010 and storage is cheap enough that they could easily double the capacity to 4GB while keep the price the same. The Classic hasn’t seen a major update since September 2008 (with only a storage upgrade to the current 160GB model in 2009) and is likely to be axed at any point. I, for one, hope it doesn’t and that Apple finally refreshes it with some updated storage (possibly flash) and maybe a redesign. Price drops would be nice, too. These updates would be announced tomorrow if Apple has plans to do anything with its stagnating iPod line.
It’s time I called out a rumored device that I heartily believe will not see the light of day tomorrow: a 5.5″ iPhone 6 (or iPhone Air, as some have called it). One of the most un-Apple things to be rumored this year is the launching of two new sizes of iPhones. Apple has seen that there are some people who would prefer a phone with a larger screen; and they are answering that with the new, 4.7″ iPhone 6. However, Apple will not be giving into the phablet (mini tablet, actually) fad. The main reason for this is that it would be a lot of work for developers to add both new screen resolutions to their apps to keep up compatibility. Apple is all about making their developers happy. I also believe that Apple wants to stay as close as they can to a phone that’s possible to use with one hand; a 5.5″ iPhone would definitely be a two-handed device.
Tomorrow is going to be one of the most exciting Apple events in quite awhile! New iPhone, iOS 8, possible iWatch. I will be live tweeting the event, which starts at 10am Pacific tomorrow. Follow me on Twitter and get ready for some exciting stuff tomorrow!