Apple has a clear design and manufacturing rhythm to the release of their iPhones. One year they overhaul the look and feel of the phone itself, the next year they overhaul the software. It’s a beat they’ve been following for years now—and it’s one that they should have no reason to stop anytime soon. Fortunately, 2014 is a hardware beat year—and it is in its industrial design that Apple truly shines.
But Apple has never been one to out their phone designs early. They have a way of keeping leaks relatively low, even having reportedly resorted to calling on the local Chinese authorities to enforce their no-leak policies. However, that never stops the rumors from finding their way around the Internet—and this year has been no exception. We’ve heard rumors of large phones, of really large phones, of exotic materials being used, and of innovative new technologies being patented. Unfortunately, as to how Apple will be using a lot of these technologies is still fairly unclear, just as Apple prefers it.
However, rumors about the forthcoming iPhone 6 smartphones hit overdrive earlier this month when iPhone 6 dummy units began to leaked all over the Internet. As a disclaimer, dummy units aren’t tried-and true leaks—they are a compilation of rumors, leaks, educated guesses, and production materials. iPhone case manufacturers often use them to get the size, shape, and button placement of the phone correct so that a slew of cases are ready when the devices hit store shelves. And while that doesn’t ensure that it is one hundred percent accurate, it looks incredibly similar to alleged leaked concept photos from a couple of months ago.
First and foremost, it’s become generally agreed that we’ll be seeing at least version of the iPhone 6 with a 4.7-inch screen size. Rumors about the larger screen size have been circulating for quite some time and the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 dummy unit is finally starting to solidify the speculation a bit. It’s a big step up from the 4-inch iPhone 5s/5c and finally brings the iPhone into the same ballpark as all the Android devices out on the market. There is still speculation as to whether or not there will be two new iPhones this year: this 4.7-inch model and a 5.5-inch model or perhaps just an updated 4.0-inch “6c” model. But for now, we can be fairly certain that some kind of iPhone released this year will have a 4.7-inch display.
One big downside to the look of the iPhone 6 dummy unit is the extremely large side bezels. In fact, compared to phones with similar displays, the proposed iPhone 6 is quite a bit larger—even larger than the previous iPhones. With new devices such as the recently announced LG G3, which features a nearly bezel-less display, that iPhone 6 dummy looks pretty outdated. Apple has never been known for large bezels, however, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the final product cut down on these bezels quite a bit. Another possibility is that the iPhone 6 will have colored edges that curve up onto the front of the phone to hide some of the bezels, as shown in those same alleged concept photos as shown in the gallery above.
Not only does it look like the iPhone 6 is going to be quite a bigger than the iPhone 5s, it also looks like it’s going to be quite a bit thinner. iPhones have always been thin, but the iPhone 6 looks like it will not only be the thinnest iPhone yet, but actually one of the thinnest smartphones ever produced. Measurements are estimated on the iPhone 6 dummy at around just 6.1mm, which just so happens to be the thickness of the 5th generation iPod Touch. That’s a significant downsize from the 7.6mm iPhone 5s, which may mean that the iPhone 6 ends up being lighter than the iPhone 5s as well despite the large screen size.
With the larger display size, moving the power button to the side is an absolute must. Fortunately, the iPhone 6 dummy unit seems to have gotten this right. It’s a relatively small change, but it’s one that will probably catch iPhone users off guard and delight those who’ve ever used bigger Android devices.
Although the specifications on the look and final design of the iPhone 6 may still be up in the air, all signs points towards it having a metal unibody case to match their MacBooks. If this is indeed true, the final result may end up looking a lot of like the HTC One (M8). The iPhone 6 dummy unit in particular has an eerily similar look to this year’s HTC One, although the color and design details of the final product are sure to change.
Another design choice for the iPhone 6 that is beginning to come into focus is the option for rounded edges. The rounded edges you see on the iPhone 6 dummy are indicative of a general design direction Apple has been making to its mobile devices. It started with the fifth generation iPod Touch back at the end of 2012 and has slowly made its way to the iPad Air, iPad Mini, and iPad Mini 2 over the past couple of years. The rounder edges remove the harsher, more industrial look of the iPhone 5/5s/5c and gives the phone a friendlier look, perhaps to complement the soft aesthetics of iOS 7.
Despite that this year Apple is sure to reboot the industrial design of their iPhone line, you can also expect a whole slew of software updates for the iPhone 6. Many of these have already been leaked quite a bit, including new apps like TextEdit, Preview, and a comprehensive fitness-tracking app called Healthbook. Other rumors for iOS 8 include iTunes Radio being pulled out as a separate app (or perhaps it will be integrated into Beats Audio?), as well as significant improvements to Apple Maps.
However, all of these things are merely scratching the surface. Despite how confident we are about certain developments, no rumor should ever be taken too seriously when it comes to Apple. This is a company that always holds its cards close to its chest and is always looking to innovate in surprising new ways.
iOS 8 will most likely be announced at this year’s WWDC (Apple Worldwide Developers Conference), which starts on Monday in Cupertino, Calif. Apple may choose to show off the iPhone 6 then, but it’s more likely that we won’t get a true glance at the next generation of iPhones until later this year in September.