iPhone 6: what it needs to do to reclaim the top spot

How can Apple once again make the best smartphone in the world? Let us count the ways…

With Apple gathering the faithful to Cupertino on 9 September, it's a near-certainty that the iPhone 6 is almost upon us.

The iPhone 6 is an important phone for Apple; it'll be looking to reassert its dominance of the smartphone market following a stellar crop of phones from the company's biggest rivals. In recent months, the current iPhone 5s has been nudged down into the lower reaches of our smartphone Top 10, so we’ve been racking our brains to come up with the various ways in which its replacement can establish itself as top dog.

READ MORE: Apple iPhone 5s review

A bigger screen

Why does it need it?
Steve Jobs was a well-known detractor of large screens on smartphones, pointing out that the original iPhone screen size of 3.5in made the device small enough to use one-handed. Jobs was right, of course, but the truth is that more and more people are willing to use both hands on their phone as a trade-off for more screen space.

With Android flagship phones regularly topping 5in in display real estate, it’s time for Apple to follow suit and deliver something for the size-hungry.

Will it get it?
Oh yes. Since taking the helm at Apple, Tim Cook has already approved an increase in the iPhone's screen size to 4in, and the iPhone 6 is going much, much further. In fact, it looks liks Apple will launch two iPhone 6 models; a 4.7in iPhone 6, and a 5.5 in model, which may rejoice under the name iPhone 6L.

The iPhone is finally following in its Android and Windows Phone rivals’ footsteps, and that’s largely (no pun intended) a good thing – although we expect the decision to upset the many proponents of one-handed phone use still out there.

More storage space

Why does it need it?
The iPhone 5s comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB options, and that might seem like enough to you in comparison to Apple’s smartphone rivals (the LG G3 has 16GB, the HTC One M8 16GB or 32GB, the OnePlus One 16GB or 64GB). But with most of these rivals offering expandable storage via a microSD slot and Apple remaining resolutely expansion-free, there’s a lack of flexibility there that hurts current iPhone models.

Will it get it?
Quite possibly. Rumour has it 16GB will no longer be an option for the iPhone 6, that the 4.7in version will come in 32GB and 64GB flavours and that the 5.5in version will also offer a 128GB option. As for a microSD slot, we wouldn’t hold your breath: Apple likes to keep its smartphone lines as clean as possible, and an extra slot for cards just doesn’t fit in with that ethos. So, we reckon 128GB might be your maximum.

An improved camera

Why does it need it?
Again, you might be thinking that the iPhone 5s’ 8MP iSight camera, which sports a wide f/2.2 aperture, two-tone flash and physically large sensor, is pretty darn impressive. And you’d be right: it’ll capture really lovely images and video, including buttery smooth slow motion clips, in almost any situation. However, Apple can’t afford to rest on its laurels here, as a handful of competitors have edged ahead in the snapping stakes: the LG G3, Sony Xperia Z2 and Samsung Galaxy S5 are all arguably superior photo performers.

Will it get it?
Hard to say for certain – but we’re leaning towards yes. With the new models being larger, there’s more room inside for Apple’s product engineers to play with, and some sources have said a 10MP or 13MP sensor is on the way as well as a larger f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilisation. The latter is a particularly smart bet, especially as spy shots appear to show a protruding camera lens – and because we know that Apple has patented a special optical image stabilisation method.

Leaked shots of the iPhone 6's internals also show that Apple's managed to shrink its two-tone LED flash down into a single unit, explaining why spy shots od the iPhone 6's rear case only have one circular opening.

More after the break...

A cheaper asking price

Why does it need it?
The iPhone 5s is really, really expensive in comparison to most of its contemporaries, with SIM unlocked 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models priced at S$988, S$1148 and S$1288 respectively. Yes, the 5s is a top notch smartphone, but with almost-as-impressive Android handsets like the OnePlus One going for less than S$400, Apple’s pricing is definitely pushing a number of potential customers into the arms of rival manufacturers.

Will it get it?
We’ve had few indications that Apple intends to lower the price on its flagship phones, and in the past the company has generally kept previous-generation devices around as the option for buyers operating on a tighter budget. Even the iPhone 5c, predicted by many to be “the first budget iPhone”, was basically just an iPhone 5 with a natty plastic body and a decidedly non-budget asking price. The smart money’s on both iPhone 6 models coming with a premium price tag attached.

Image credit: Images Money

A longer-lasting battery

Why does it need it?
Ask the average consumer what they’re hoping for in their next smartphone and they won’t say a 2K screen, a 21MP camera or louder speakers – they’ll say a battery that lasts at least a day on a full charge. Battery life is often one of the last things manufacturers talk about when bigging up their new phone, because thanks to huge screens and life-sapping quad-core processors, most phones will, at some point, have you anxiously scrambling for a charger when it’s really inconvenient. The iPhone 5s has enough battery to get the average user through a day of normal use, but it’s not the best out there.

Will it get it?
If rumours are accurate, it just might. With both iPhone 6 models rocking a bigger body, there’s space inside for a bigger fuel tank, and reports claim it might be a 2,100mAh capacity battery – a big jump from the 1,560mAh battery inside the iPhone 5s. Of course, there’ll be a bigger screen (or rather, bigger screens) to power, so it could be that overall battery life remains roughly the same. We’ve also seen a leaked shot of a 2,915mAh battery, which could be destined for the larger 5.5in model.

Water resistance

Why does it need it?
Two of the iPhone’s biggest competitors, the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Sony Xperia Z2, are both water resistant, and we can’t count the number of times we’ve heard iPhone-using friends and family members bemoaning their dead devices thanks to unplanned dips in the bath, basin or bog. Waterproofing would save a lot of tears.

Will it get it?
Probably not. Much has been written and leaked concerning the iPhone 6’s build, and barely any of it suggests that Apple has decided to seal the phone against the watery ravages of a dunking. There’s still hope, of course, but this is one feature we definitely wouldn’t bet on. Don't count on being able to carry on your game of Candy Crush while you're taking a shower.

Image credit: Lisa Norwood

READ MORE: Apple iPhone 6 preview

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