In only nine days, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) will introduce two new iPhone models at a special media event on Sept. 10, including the high-end iPhone 5S and the company's long-rumored budget iPhone, which has been given many names including iPhone 6, iPhone Light, and iPhone 5C (based on a single leaked photo of its plastic packaging). We believe Apple will simply call it "the new iPhone" (much like the iPad line, after last year's third-generation iPad release) and distinguish this year's high-end offering with the extra "5S" moniker, but for clarity's sake, we'll call the budget iPhone "iPhone 6" for now.
Most attention will deservedly fall on the iPhone 5S, which will feature the newest technologies from Apple, but many still want to know what will make the budget iPhone distinctive. We've been following the rumors for more than a year now, and we have a great picture of what users can expect from Apple's lower-end smartphone when it is released this month.
But before we discuss some of the features of the iPhone 6, here's a little background: Most analysts believe the concept of the iPhone 6 is to offer a cheaper iPhone for people in lower income brackets and emerging markets (including China and India -- two largely untapped markets for Apple) who can't readily afford the newest high-end iPhone. Apple is particularly interested in China, as proven by multiple recent visits by Apple CEO Tim Cook to the headquarters of China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE:CHL), the largest telecommunications carrier in the world with 703 million subscribers. Many believe Apple has chosen to produce and release the cheaper iPhone 6 so it can strike a deal with China Mobile, and join the company's vast TD-LTE network.
Now, without further ado, here are five features of the iPhone 6 you should expect to see at Apple's Sept. 10 unveiling.
1. Plastic (and less scratchy) form factor. The iPhone 6 is expected to release with many of the same features of the iPhone 5, but the key difference will probably be the form factor. Reportedly, the anodized aluminum body of the iPhone 5 will be replaced by a cheaper, albeit sturdier and more scratch-proof, polycarbonate shell. In January, iLounge editor-in-chief Jeremy Horwitz said the iPhone 6 will release as a "cross between the iPhone 5, the fifth-generation iPod touch and -- wait for it -- the iPod classic." With a 4-inch screen like the iPhone 5, a tapered bottom like the latest iPod touch and a rectangular shape like the iPod classic, the budget iPhone 6 is expected to be made substantially of plastic but will feature a hybrid plastic and metal chassis. The right side of the iPhone 6 will likely feature a flat, centered SIM card tray like the iPhone 5, with the locations of the camera, microphone and rear flash located about where they are on the latest-generation iPod touch.
2. Same iPhone 5 specs, same iPhone 5 performance. We believe Apple will release the iPhone 6 with most of the same specs as the iPhone 5, including a 4-inch Retina display at 326 ppi, an A6 chip, a FaceTime HD camera and an 8-megapixel rear side camera; the 8-megapixel camera has already shown up in allegedly leaked photos of the iPhone 6 components.
3. Five candy colors. The major difference between last year's iPhone 5 release and this year's budget iPhone 6 -- besides the new polycarbonate enclosure -- will likely be its availability in five colors (red, green, yellow, blue and white), as opposed to the two silver and slate color options from the iPhone 5. Alleged photos have depicted the iPhone 6 with a black front face on all models regardless of rear shell color, which seems likely, but don't be surprised if Apple includes white or color front-face options when it is released next month.
4. Pre-loaded with iOS 7. Phone hardware tends to get more attention than its software, but the operating system running on the iPhone 6 is just as vital to the iPhone experience as the phone itself. This year, Apple has completely revamped the style, icons, textures and features of the iOS ecosystem to provide a familiar but entirely new experience altogether. The release of iOS 7 will provide a big cosmetic and feature-ridden upgrade with plenty of new tools and features, and could quite possibly be Apple's most successful iOS release to date. Most notable among the new iOS 7 features: The helpful Control Center that contains quick access to important settings; the built-in parallax that shifts the background image in response to one’s movements; a new way to multitask apps; the AirDrop feature for sharing photos or documents with other iPhone users in the area; and much more. For more on iOS 7, check out our visual guide on iOS 7 to learn more about the new design, some surprise features we discovered in the very first iOS 7 beta release, plus our collection of 80-plus screenshots of iOS 7.
5. It'll be cheap. Obviously, the selling point of this particular iPhone release won't be its form factor, or its specs, but rather its price (plus its availability in five colors, which will help the iPhone 6 stand out). Many originally predicted Apple would release the iPhone 6 at the same price as the iPhone 4, which is currently being sold for $0 with a two-year contract in the U.S., or for about 3,000 yuan (roughly equivalent to $490) in China. This week, these iPhone 6 price rumors seemed to be confirmed by a prominent poster on China's social network Sina Weibo, "C Technology," who also claimed the iPhone 6 will release at the same price as the iPhone 4. KGI Securities' Ming-Chi Kuo, who has an excellent track record with forecasting Apple's product pipeline, also predicted (via MacRumors) the iPhone 6 would release at a price between $450 and $550 off-contract, which would line up with the newest set of rumors.
If these price rumors are indeed accurate, Apple will likely be changing its price strategy across all iPhone lines. With the new iPhone 5S price said to be $199 with a two-year contract, last year's iPhone 5 may drop its price to $99 on-contract, and the iPhone 4S from 2011 may sell for the equivalent of the plastic iPhone 6 at $0 on-contract. Some rumors predicted that Apple would eliminate the iPhone 5 from its iPhone lineup with the release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 5S, but given how we believe the iPhone 6 won't release with all of the same specs as the iPhone 5, we believe last year's iPhone model still will "deserve to exist" and won't be discontinued just yet. This may be the first year, however, that Apple removes the popular iPhone 4 from its U.S. lineup.
Apple iPhone 6 Coming: When Is The Release Date?
We originally predicted that Apple would reintroduce iOS 7 on Sept. 10 and release the operating system a week and a day later on Sept. 18. Since Apple tends to release its newest iPhone two days after the release date of its newest iOS, we predicted Apple would release at least one of its two new iPhones on Sept. 20.
Kuo recently said (via MacRumors) that Apple would release its iPhone 5S after the budget iPhone 6 in September due to supply constraints, but we believe Apple will be able to launch both new iPhones on the same release date -- Sept. 20. Apple has reportedly restricted vacation time for employees between Sept. 15 and 28, while T-Mobile has implemented vacation blackouts between Sept. 20 and 22, according to TmoNews. All rumors seem to point to a single Sept. 20 release date for both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 5S.
What do you think of the iPhone 6? Would you consider purchasing an iPhone 6 over Apple’s high-end iPhone line, even if that means sacrificing some key user features to save some money? Do you think Apple will bundle the release dates of the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 together? Give us your thoughts of the iPhone 6 in the comments section below.