The iPhone 6, which will launch this fall, will contain several highly anticipated features, including near field communication (NFC), wireless charging, a better 4G antenna, and a much bigger screen, a source close to the situation tells VentureBeat.
The new iPhone is nearing completion and is now being tested for things like durability, speed, and network performance.
The phone will run the impressive new iOS 8 operating system that Apple announced at its developers conference earlier this week.
Apple was ready to include an near field communication (NFC) radio in the last round of iPhones, but the company pulled the plug on the feature because the nascent mobile payments ecosystem was too stratified and immature.
Apple is now ready to pull the trigger on NFC. An NFC radio has been designed into the iPhone 6 and will enable mobile payments in the way that Android phones using Google Wallet already do.
We’re unclear if Apple has aligned itself with the ISIS wireless payments standard, which is backed by a consortium of credit card companies and banks. It is more likely that Apple will go with its own mobile payments standard, which will compete with both ISIS and Google Wallet.
This may confuse things in mobile payments further, because merchants will likely want to wait until one wireless payments standard becomes dominant so that they’ll have to switch out their point-of-sales systems only once.
Faster LTE radio
The current iPhone 5 series contains a Category 4 LTE radio, which is capable of connection speeds of up to 150 megabits per second (mbps). The new iPhone 6 will contain a much faster Category 6 LTE radio, which is capable of 300 mbps throughput speeds, our source says.
The new radio is not yet an LTE Advanced radio, but it is considered an interim step toward that new frontier in wireless. LTE Advanced provides almost 3.3 gigabits per second peak download rates under ideal lab conditions.
Ideally, we would be able to set our phone down on any charging surface we encounter to get a charge. But the device world is now split along the lines of competing standards. This has made device makers hesitate to commit to one standard or the other.
This situation improved a little bit earlier this year when two of the main standards, the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) and the Power Matters Alliance (PMA), agreed to make sure that if a device works on one, it’ll work on the other, too.
Apple is apparently ready to commit to a standard. Which standard that is remains unknown, but the new iPhone 6 design includes a surface under the shell which connects to an inductive charging surface for energy transfer, our source revealed. These charging surfaces can live on a free standing pad, but are more often built into preexisting fixtures like countertops and dashboard trays.
The iPhone 6 will also include a significantly larger screen that will take up relatively more area on the front of the phone, our source says. The hardware border around the screen will be smaller than on previous iPhones.
Apple was been under pressure to increase the size of its screens in response to consumers’ desire to watch more video on mobile devices. Competing Android phones will large screens have sold well, and Apple can no longer ignore that, our source says.
According to a new report from market research firm Canalys, slightly more than a third of all smartphones sold worldwide in first quarter had five-inch and larger screens. For smartphones with an unlocked price of US $500 or more, 5-inch+ screens represented nearly half of devices.
Some observers have predicted a new iPhone display with a pixel-tripling (3X) mode.
This would triple the “base resolution” of 568 x 320 (1,136 x 640 is twice this), resulting in a 1,704 x 960 resolution for the Apple iPhone 6. This would essentially increase the current resolution of 1,136 x 640 by 150 percent, and would keep the same 16:9 screen ratio found on the iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c.
On a possible 4.7-inch screen, the ppi would be 416; on a 5.5-inch, 356 ppi. The iPhone 5s and 5c have 4-inch screens; the 4s’ resolution is 3.5-inches.
The new screen will also likely get a new scratch-resistant covering.
Nothing’s final until launch
Our source warns that while these features are part of the iPhone 6 design now, Apple has in the past removed major device features at the last minute before debut. The NFC radio in the new iPhone 6, for example, might be at risk of being zapped by Apple at the last minute if it decides the mobile payments ecosystem is still not ready.