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Myths and facts about the new iPhone

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Apple’s annual iPhone release announcements consistently shape up to be one of the biggest events for the smartphone market, and this year looks to be no different.

The company is expected to announce information about the new iPhone within the next few months, and the new phone is already known to feature improvements to the processor, fingerprint sensor and camera. While Apple traditionally keeps most information about upcoming product launches under wraps, a good deal of reports have already circulated online about what to expect in the next iPhone release. Here are some of the rumors circulating as well as an estimated probability of each rumor being true.

95 Percent Chance: The new series line will be named iPhone 6
95 Percent Chance: The new series line will be named iPhone 6 Derek Letellier

95 Percent Chance: The new series line will be named iPhone 6

Since the iPhone 4, Apple has kept a consistent naming pattern for its phones. The company released numbered updates every other year with the iPhone 4 in 2010 and the iPhone 5 in 2012. The company isn’t expected to break the pattern and will most likely release this year’s model as the iPhone 6.

80 Percent Chance: Apple plans to debut a larger iPhone with a new screen resolution
80 Percent Chance: Apple plans to debut a larger iPhone with a new screen resolution Derek Letellier

80 Percent Chance: Apple plans to debut a larger iPhone with a new screen resolution

Most of the recent leaks involving the new iPhone suggest that the screen will get larger, but the exact size is still unclear. Several reports indicate that Apple is testing out a larger, 5.5-inch iPhone while other sources point to 4.7 inches. If either rumor is correct, the larger screen may drastically change things for the iPhone going forward, with the biggest implication involving its resolution.

Apple could keep the same dimensions as the iPhone 5 models, but a larger screen operating at the same resolution would mean the phones would no longer be within Apple’s Retina capability. While this change would be the most simple because it does not require changes in apps to function on a larger screen, the loss of Retina would mean the display would be less crisp and look more like pre-Retina displays such as the iPhone 3GS and older.

The more likely scenario is that Apple would change the phone’s resolution just as it did with the larger screen on the iPhone 5. When Apple switched to the 1136 X 640 resolution in the iPhone 5, app developers had to release updates to change resolutions. While apps without the update will continue to function, those apps will only use part of the screen.

60 Percent Chance: Apple will release multiple models similar to last year's iPhone 5C/5S debut
60 Percent Chance: Apple will release multiple models similar to last year's iPhone 5C/5S debut Derek Letellier

60 Percent Chance: Apple will release multiple models similar to last year's iPhone 5C/5S debut

While Apple released multiple model iPhones last year in order to offer a cheaper version in the 5C and a more expensive premium version in the 5S, the struggling sales of the 5C make it less likely that Apple will continue this strategy.

However, Apple may have a different reason for offering multiple models rooted in the rumored larger phone. Conflicting reports on the size of the next iPhone may be occurring because Apple may release two versions of the iPhone 6, one with a 4.7-inch display and another with the larger 5.5-inch screen.

It’s possible that Apple plans to offer different sized iPhones to better compete with Samsung. Currently, Samsung sells two different Galaxy smartphone models: the normal-sized S series as well as the larger Note series phones, stylized as “phablets,” or devices with features in-between phones and tablets. It’s possible that Apple's phablet iPhone could be delayed until the holiday season or even into the next cycle.

40 Percent Chance: The iPhone 6 will be announced as early as June
40 Percent Chance: The iPhone 6 will be announced as early as June Derek Letellier

40 Percent Chance: The iPhone 6 will be announced as early as June

Some reports suggest that Apple is aiming for an announcement of their next-generation iPhone at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June. The company announced iPhone updates at the conference up to the iPhone 4, but new iPhone models since then have been unveiled between September and October due to manufacturing delays.

If Apple does indeed unveil a bigger or thinner iPhone requiring a new battery, that product most likely will come after WWDC. This rumor would make the most sense if Apple plans to debut two iPhones this year, with the smaller of the two models being announced at WWDC and the larger "phablet" phone coming later in the year.

20 Percent Chance: Apple will release biometric EarBuds to monitor heart rate
20 Percent Chance: Apple will release biometric EarBuds to monitor heart rate Derek Letellier

20 Percent Chance: Apple will release biometric EarBuds to monitor heart rate

A leaked report earlier this month suggested that Apple will incorporate biometric sensors in the next version of its EarPod headphones that come standard with the iPhone. The new earbuds could detect a user's heart rate and would interface with the Healthbook app launching with iOS 8. However, the author of the report indicated a few days later that the information was fabricated.

While that particular report turned out to be a hoax, the rumor had some believability because of patents filed by Apple in the past. Still, with no corroborating leaks suggesting the existence of this feature, it’s unlikely to be included with the iPhone 6.

50 Percent Chance: The iWatch will be released this year alongside the iPhone 6
50 Percent Chance: The iWatch will be released this year alongside the iPhone 6 Derek Letellier

50 Percent Chance: The iWatch will be released this year alongside the iPhone 6

The rumor of the existence of an iWatch, a watch that interfaces with the iPhone, has been kicked around for years. Many tech experts expected a release last year to complete with Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatches, but 2013 came and went without a release.

While it’s not certain if Apple is even developing a smartwatch, Samsung’s own foray into smartwatches last year failed to meet expectations, and its $300 price tag alienated some potential customers. Samsung released the Gear 2, a second version of its smartwatch, to mixed reviews and limited fanfare last month.

It’s possible Apple learned from Samsung’s mistakes, made changes and will release its own version this year, but rumored manufacturing issues make a 2014 release far from certain.

50 Percent Chance: Apple will raise the price of iPhone 6
50 Percent Chance: Apple will raise the price of iPhone 6 Derek Letellier

50 Percent Chance: Apple will raise the price of iPhone 6

According to Jefferies analyst Peter Misek, Apple wants to raise the price of its new iPhone models by $100. The price increase could give Apple more flexibility to create a phone with enough features and innovation to differentiate from other smartphones.

However, Misek also said carriers are hesitant about a price increase, especially if consumers who have to shell out an extra $100 for an iPhone decide to turn to less expensive Android and Windows Phone devices. The proposed price change appears to still be in the negotiation stage, so it’s still up in the air as to whether or not the price will change.

100 Percent Chance: The phone will launch alongside iOS 8
100 Percent Chance: The phone will launch alongside iOS 8 Derek Letellier

100 Percent Chance: The phone will launch alongside iOS 8

Apple has in recent years used its annual WWDC to debut advancements of its iOS and OS X operating systems, and that won’t change this year. While iOS’s official reveal will come next month, its release will coincide with the release of the next iPhone. Some already leaked features include split-screen multitasking on iPad, a Healthbook app and improvements to the Maps app.

40 Percent Chance: The next iPhone will feature optical image stabilization for higher resolution photos
40 Percent Chance: The next iPhone will feature optical image stabilization for higher resolution photos Derek Letellier

40 Percent Chance: The next iPhone will feature optical image stabilization for higher resolution photos

When Apple last month hired Ari Partinen, the former photography lead at Nokia, the company took a big step towards improving the camera on iPhones, which underwhelms compared to Nokia’s 1020.

Partinen’s contributions likely won’t be seen until 2015 at the earliest, but Apple may have another camera improvement planned for the iPhone 6. Patent applications by Apple suggest the company plans to add hardware that enables the phone to take photos with optical image stabilization. The hardware would allow the camera on the phone to take photos with a higher quality and resolution while retaining 8 megapixels like the iPhone 4S and newer.

While Apple wants to improve its camera, there’s a strong possibility that it may save any major overhauls for future iPhone models. Adding the hardware for optical image stabilization as described in the patent application could make the phone bulkier, which would contradict the thinner approach Apple seems to be taking. While Apple will probably make some improvements to the camera, those improvements seem less likely to feature a major hardware feature like optical image stabilization.

30 Percent Chance: the new iPhone will come with updated EarPods
30 Percent Chance: the new iPhone will come with updated EarPods Derek Letellier

30 Percent Chance: the new iPhone will come with updated EarPods

Apple’s rumored acquisition of Beats indicates its looking to bring more life into its music features, which have lost ground to competitors like Spotify and Pandora. It’s likely that Apple will add high-definition audio playback in iOS 8 in an effort to jump start its music business.

Apple will need to couple better audio playback with the right hardware to take advantage of the new feature, and it’s possible they’ll upgrade the EarPods that come standard with iPhone 5 series phones. However, such an upgrade may be too expensive to come standard with all iPhones, and the most likely route Apple will take is to update its premium in-ear headphones or release new headphones under the Beats brand. 

60 Percent Chance: Apple will equip its iPhones with Near Field Communication
60 Percent Chance: Apple will equip its iPhones with Near Field Communication Derek Letellier

60 Percent Chance: Apple will equip its iPhones with Near Field Communication

Much like the long-rumored iWatch, many tech specialists expected Apple to add NFC support to its iPhones years ago. NFC, or Near Field Communication, is a communications system that transmits data by “bumping” two supported devices together. Another major feature of NFC is the ability to use it as a mobile payment system where users could tap their phones to send money.

This year may be the year Apple adds this functionality according to a report by Brightwire. The report states that Apple secured a deal with China UnionPay that will allow users to make payments on the next-generation iPhone. Apple also filed a patent application in January for NFC, which supports the rumored agreement.

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