Mobile

Apple's iPhone 6 line will sport faster Wi-Fi, improved fingerprint reader, A8 chip confirmed (exclusive)

An iPhone 6 mockup based on leaked schematics

Above: An iPhone 6 mockup based on leaked schematics

As anticipation builds in front of the announcement of the new iPhones this fall — yes, that’s multiple phones — new details about the devices are emerging.

As rumored, Apple will release two new phones this fall, one with a 4.7-inch screen and another with a large 5.5-inch screen, a VentureBeat source with knowledge of the plans says. Reports Tuesday said Apple will announce the new phones at an event September 9.

However, the 4.7-inch model will be ready to ship mid-September, our source says, while the 5.5-inch model is likely to ship several weeks or even a month later.

We’ve also heard rumors that the new screens will be made of ultra-durable sapphire glass. Our source says the screens are made of an extremely hard material that’s slightly harder than Gorilla Glass but not as hard as sapphire. That corroborates an earlier video report showing that the purported iPhone 6 screen is harder than previous models’ screens but softer than sapphire crystal.

Our source confirms that the upcoming iPhones will contain the new A8 chip. The A8 will run at a frequency of 2.0 GHz per core and will create noticeably faster response time and graphics rendering in the new phones, the source says. By comparison, the A7 chips in the iPhone 5 run at only 1.3GHz per core.

The new phones will support a faster flavor of Wi-Fi, 802.11ac. As in earlier iPhones, the Wi-Fi chip will come from Broadcom. Apple is said to have been working on its own Wi-Fi chip, using a team of engineers that it hired away from Texas Instruments, but our source believes Apple hasn’t been able to get the kind of range and performance from its own chips that it needs.

The cellular modem in the phone is the latest version of Qualcomm’s MDM9x35. Our source believes that this modem will remain in future generations of iPhones, at least until Verizon retires its CDMA technology. The new modem will support Category 6 LTE, a faster wireless technology that allows top speeds of 300 megabits per second.

A socket is reserved for a near field communication (NFC) chip that will make the new phones able to do mobile payments (finally), our source says. Apple will populate the socket with a chip made by NXP. The NXP chip’s element and radio reserve enough memory to encrypt, decrypt, and sign data packets coming from financial applications on the phone.

The fingerprint reader in the new phones will boast some minor improvements to speed up read times, cut down on false rejections, and improve security for mobile payments and biometrics.

Our source adds that Apple has also been playing around with some technology that would form a special “handshake” between iPhones and Beats headphones. This consists of a chip that would authenticate Beats headsets on iPhones using the Lightning connector. Whether or not that feature materializes is anybody’s guess.

Our source stresses that the above represents the picture of the devices today and that, in the past, specific features have disappeared from the shipping product in the final weeks before launch. So this may not be the final spec list for the shipping phones.

But for now, this is the most complete picture we have yet of the next-generation iPhones.

More information:

Apple designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company's best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Apple software includes t... read more »

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