by Chris Velazco, August 26, 2014 at ENGADGET.com
Look, going off the sheer number of leaks we’ve seen the past few months, there’s no way you didn’t know Apple was planning to unveil a horde of new gadgets next week. Hell, the folks in Cupertino are even counting down to the event (and the livestream that goes with it) on Apple.com. If all those rumors and reports hold true, two iPhones and two wearables will take the stage next week, so let’s take a moment and dissect what we know (and what we think we know) about Apple’s newest batch of gear.
In a concession to how people’s smartphone tastes have shifted, Apple’s been working on not one, but two iPhones: a 4.7-inch version and an awfully phablet-esque 5.5-inch model for those who think iOS 8 really needs some room to breathe. Debates have raged over whether Apple will cover those displays in ultra-durable sapphire crystal (no more battered screens!), but KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts the company won’t take the plunge — instead saying they’ll offer 128GB versions of the new iPhone instead. Naturally, our fingers are crossed for both. The New York Times also points out that iOS 8 will include a one-hand mode for folks who can’t quite wrap their mitts around these bigger phones.
Look beyond those screens and you’ll notice a completely different body — the last time Apple revamped the iPhone’s look this dramatically, we got the angular iPhone 4. Time almost seems to be running in reverse, as leaked component photos and videos point to a thinner, rounder unibody aluminum affair that’s actually very evocative of the original iPhone. One of the possible side effects of that slimdown is a sleep/wake button that now lives on the phone’s right edge and a camera pod that juts out slightly. Speaking of, we’re not quite sure how robust those shooters are (most guesses are either eight or 13 megapixels), but yet another component leak may confirm that the 5.5-inch iPhone has optical image stabilization. Many of the most compelling images of the new iPhones (or what we think are the new iPhones) have come from longtime leaker Sonny Dickson and a high-end Russian accessory maker called Feld & Volk. Meanwhile, some new Russian leakers have apparently slapped some Apple bits and bobs together to give us what may be the closest thing to the official iPhone 6 we’ve seen so far.
So yes, dramatic redesign. Fine — how about what’s inside? There isn’t much known about the iPhone’s new 64-bit A8 processor, but a little sleuthing by MacRumors suggests that it might come paired with 1GB of RAM (just like the 5s before it). Yet more poking around with components revealed that 16GB of storage is still the baseline (well, for the 4.7-inch model, anyway). Oh, and both the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have said the new iPhones will come with NFC chips that are meant to work with a new payments system Apple has been slaving away on. That’s, well, huge. Thanks to iTunes, Apple is sitting on top of a seriously silly amount of people’s payment information — turning your iPhone into your wallet (CNET lays out a few interesting possibilities) might wind up being one of the most lucrative things Apple could do.
So, when can you get these things? The ceaseless whispers from the rumor mill says they should officially launch a few weeks after the event, and many expect the 4.7-inch version to start at the usual $199 with a contract. That means — you guessed it — the bigger version would probably start at around $299 on-contract and the 5s would assuredly slide down the price scale to $99.