It is said that the sixth generation of Apple’s vaunted iPhone is expected to arrive in Apple stores worldwide in July 2012. Google’s Android, nipping at its heels for years, is expected to overtake Apple’s iPhone in market share this year, putting Apple on the defensive. If there ever were a time for the iPhone to woo and wow potential buyers, now would be it.
With every new iteration, the questions on everyone’s mind are:
- What’s new? (What are the new added features?)
- What does it look like?
- When does it come out exactly?
A “green” iPhone? With a possible graphene touchscreen, case made of naturally-sourced plastic, and ORB (organic radical battery), the iPhone 6 might be hailed as the most environmentally-friendly iPhone yet.
Here’s what we can probably expect: 4G: The iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 are belatedly available on Verizon in the United States, but 4G (LTE) is likely not going to be available until AT&T releases its own 4G service (HSPA+) nationwide, expected in later 2011 at the earliest. The iPhone 6, released in 2012, will likely be the first 4G phone available on both US carriers. This is, admittedly, a disappointment for Verizon users, since its speedy LTE network will have been deployed for well over a year and accessible withcompetitive (read: Android) devices during that time.
The entire front face of the iPhone might be a screen, doing away with the physical home button.
Removing the need for a port-cable connection for charging, the iPhone 6 might employ inductive charging, where the iPhone is placed on a charge mat and the phone battery is charged by induction. You can easily imagine buying mats for your desk, car, and elsewhere where your iPhone is typically lying around losing its charge. Since iOS 5 enabled data sharing over the air, inductive charging might allow the iPhone to finally ditch cords altogether.
iOS 6 will also debut around the same time, and with each successive Apple mobile operating system, increased complexity and added features create strains on the processor. A chip faster than the ubiquitous 1 GHz chip we’ve seen rolled out, or even a dual-core processor, might be unveiled.
Graphene touchscreen on Gorilla Glass.
Graphene is an atom-thick material bonded to a polymer support, reducing its thickness, and which is far more environmentally friendly (no heavy metals needed, like the currently-used indium tin oxide) and, importantly, boasts far quick response times to tracing and drawing on screen. Gorilla Glass, a Corning innovation, resists breakage far better than any other commercially-available glass. Coupled with the faster chip, the iPhone 6 might be the first phone which can capture your signature as fast as you can write it with your finger.
The iPhone app store shows no signs of abating in popularity, and without SD card memory expansion in Android phones, Apple will up the phone storage options available. Expect 64GB and 128GB variants.
The iPhone 6 might be the first to use the organic radical battery (ORB) technology developed by Japan’s NEC, which is more environmentally-friendly than current lithium ion batteries that have dangerous heavy metals. ORB also boasts an absurdly fast recharge time (about 30 seconds) and higher energy density (will be able to pack more power into a smaller battery).
The iPhone 6 might be the first iPhone to cross the 10 million pixel threshold with its camera, unsurprising as high-resolution images have always been a hallmark of Apple’s products.
Near-Field Communication (NFC) chip.
Debuted on the Samsung Nexus S and most likely implemented on the iPhone in the 5th generation product, this newest hardware addition enables contactless communication between a phone and objects similarly embedded NFC capabilities. This should eventually enable things like paying via credit card by holding your phone over a terminal for a second, or paying for things from vending machines using your phone. The technology is similar to Bluetooth although it uses less energy and establishes a connection far more quickly (although at a much closer range – a few inches away instead of yards away).
Form factor improvements.
Apple puts a tremendous amount of emphasis on the sleekness of its products. The iPhone 6 will be no exception, with a modern, lightweight, and thin look. Expect some surprises in terms of shape and, especially, materials, as Apple hopes to push the envelope and fend off attacks from Android handmakers, its largest competition.
Case material improvements.
To round out the environmental friendliness of the new device, more advanced, naturally-sourced plastics might be used in the case. For example, isoplast polymers might replace the previously used polycarbonate case manufactured with BPA (bisphenol-A). The glass back used in the iPhone 4 has had too many breakage issues, although Gorilla Glass makes the glass far less fragile.
Possible innovations and features
Apple usually includes something unique and technologically cutting-edge into each iteration of the iPhone (like the smudge-proof screen in the 3G and glass case in the iPhone 4). Here are some possibilities for the iPhone 6:
- the case could be made of the battery itself (lithium ion polymer), reducing weight and improving battery life
- the button could be phased out, replaced with a virtual button on-screen
- face or thumb recognition as a security measure
- the phone could be a Wifi hub using the carrier 4G connection
- a “pico-projector” – video can be projected a short distance onto a flat surface
- a clear “window phone” in which the phone could be transparent
What do we know so far?
- Toshiba Mobile Display Company is building a $1.2 billion factory to produce LCD panels for the iPhone 6. The factory is scheduled to be operational in the second half of 2011, ready to produce iPhone 6 displays for the 2012 launch.