Here’s What We Know About the iPhone 6 So Far

The launch date of Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) next generation iPhone -- known for now as the iPhone 6 -- appears to be fast approaching. While the exact launch date is unknown to all but to a chosen few, it's probably safe to bank on a mid-September launch. Though the wait seems torturous, we can bide the time by taking a look at everything that we do know about the phone so far, and ultimately what it will mean for investors.

It's bigger
For quite a while there was plenty of speculation around what size(s) the new iPhone would come in. After reports that Apple was testing numerous sizes, the consensus now seems to be that the standard model will come in a 4.7-inch size and that a larger variant will come in at 5.5 inches. No matter what Apple's launch schedule looks like, it's clear that the next iPhone will be larger than the current one.

Although the iPhone 5s due with just a 4-inch screen, it is still the world's best-selling smartphone nearly 10 months after its launch, outpacing Samsung's Galaxy S5 (aka "The Next Big Thing"). Though consumer trends are very difficult to predict, it seems almost like a no-brainer at this point to expect Apple to gain significant share with its newer, larger iPhone models.

It's faster
The next generation iPhone will likely feature a next generation, Apple-designed "A-series" chip. The chip is very likely to be built at Taiwan Semiconductor  (NYSE: TSM  )  on its 20-nanometer manufacturing technology. This should allow for significant performance/density improvements over the current generation A7 chip (and should provide a boost to Taiwan Semiconductor, even if it is temporary). 

The new chip is likely to sport a fresh pair of Apple-designed 64-bit ARM-compatible processor cores, bringing to the table a sizable increase in performance. In addition, though it's not entirely clear yet, the A8 could either sport Imagination Technologies' next generation Series 6XT graphics architecture or a home-grown Apple-designed graphics processor. Either way, graphics performance -- by virtue of the added chip real estate that the 20-nanometer process brings -- should be way up in the iPhone 6 (meaning that games look more realistic and run more smoothly).

It's covered in sapphire?
Ever since Apple signed a strategic supply agreement with GT Advanced Technologies (NASDAQOTH: GTATQ  ) to get its hands on massive quantities of sapphire, it has been speculated that the next generation iPhone will ditch Corning's Gorilla Glass for a sapphire cover glass.

YouTube tech star Marques Brownlee got his hands on what seems to be the front cover for the iPhone 6 -- and it looks as though it really is made of sapphire. Motley Fool senior technology specialist Evan Niu calls this move to a sapphire crystal display cover "brilliant and perfectly timed," and given how nearly unbreakable the display seems to be, it's hard to disagree.

What about margins?
The new iPhone will be jam packed with new features and enhancements relative to the prior generation iPhone, so of course there will be concerns about margins -- at least initially. There's little doubt that the components will be a bit more expensive on balance, and the new industrial design probably won't yield as well as the current, two-year-old iPhone 5/5s design, so -- barring a price increase -- Apple is likely to see a bit of gross margin pressure.

That said, if Apple can drive significantly higher volumes (which is the expectation), then this is more than likely to offset any per-unit gross margin loss.

Foolish bottom line
The next generation iPhone is likely to be the biggest launch that Apple has ever done -- both literally and figuratively. The phone is likely to be compelling enough to keep the vast majority of existing iPhone users that are looking for an upgrade, and at the same time could bring back customers that prefer iOS but had flocked to Android in search of larger screen sizes. If this thesis plays out as expected, then not only will Apple grow its share in the premium smartphone space, but it will solidify its dominance as the world's most profitable smartphone vendor.

Leaked: Apple's next smart device (warning, it may shock you)
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!

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  • Report this Comment On July 19, 2014, at 11:09 PM, marv08 wrote:

    "Although the iPhone 5s due with just a 4-inch screen, it is still the world's best-selling smartphone ... it seems almost like a no-brainer at this point to expect Apple to gain significant share with its newer, larger iPhone models."

    Customers did choose the smaller iPhone despite an array of bigger sized phones being available. While I have no doubts that bigger iPhones will sell well, I am not sure why every pundit is convinced that ALL people actually want them. While "phablets" have been a relative hit in Asia and parts of Europe, other parts and most of the US have avoided them.

    I will look at the 4.7" model and see how well I can operate it with one hand. If usability is as lousy as with all current big phones, I will keep my 5s until it fails and then look elsewhere, even if this means going back to a dumbphone; I have my iPad Air for everything else.

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The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

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Ashraf Eassa

Ashraf Eassa is a technology specialist with The Motley Fool. He writes mostly about technology stocks, but is especially interested in anything related to chips -- the semiconductor kind, that is. Follow him on Twitter:

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