Two weeks. That’s how long we have left until Apple is expected to officially announce the iPhone 6 on 9 September. But until then the leaks keep coming and this week they cover two areas that had seemingly been shrouded in secrecy: the camera and the phones’ exact dimensions… and one appears to have a major effect on the other.
Dealing with the dimensions first, the iPhone 6’s 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens are now an open secret but French website iGen has managed to fill in the other blanks which will be crucial to determining whether either of the new handsets will remain usable with one hand.
iGen claims the screenshots came via Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn and they show three code names: the ‘N51’ (the current iPhone 5S), ‘N61’ (believed to be the 4.7-inch iPhone 6) and the ‘N56’ (said to be the 5.5-inch ‘iPhone 6L’).
As expected, the N61 is substantially larger than its 4in predecessor with its footprint increasing from 123.83 x 58.57mm (4.87 x 2.3 inches) to 138.14 x 66.97mm (5.438 x 2.63 inches) though the thickness is reduced dramatically falling from 7.6mm (0.299 inches) to 6.9mm (0.27 inches).
Interestingly the weight of the N61 is listed as ‘Unknown’ but there is a 48% increase in overall volume so Apple will need to pull off some miracles with the 4.7-inch iPhone’s density to keep it very light, especially considering the shift to a metal chassis.
We can make an educated guess as the 5.2-inch Samsung Galaxy S5 was a very similar size when lined up to 4.7-inch iPhone 6 dummy units and weighs 145g (5.11oz) – though it has a plastic chassis.
As for the N56 5.5-inch iPhone 6 phablet, the surprising news here is it appears to have been developed in two different prototypes simultaneously. The ‘Proto 1’ is listed as 158 x 77.12 x 7mm (6.22 x 3.03 x 0.275 inches) and 168.5g (5.94oz) while the ‘Proto 2’ is 158 x 77.79 x 7.1mm (6.22 x 3.06 x 0.279 inches) and substantially heavier at 184.6g (6.51 oz).
Whichever version makes it to production, given the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has a larger 5.7-inch display and weighs 168g (5.93oz), both 5.5-inch iPhone 6 variants are heavy.
What the schematics also show us are the new iPhones rears and both have protruding cameras: 0.77mm for the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 (N61) and 0.677mm and 0.77mm for the two 5.5-inch iPhone 6 (N56) variants. If correct, this will be the first time any iPhone has had a protruding camera.
Whilst a protruding camera is ungainly, it has immediately been backed up by a leak from Chinese website ithome which shows the same feature on what it claims is a prototype (image below). Having seen the ring of the protruding camera of the Nexus 5 scratch easily in my long term review, Apple will again need to pull off some engineering miracles here as it becomes a primary point of impact when putting the phone down.
Should both leaks be on the money, however, it would show Apple is determined to make the new iPhones as thin as possible. A desire so strong that Reuter’s last week claimed it had delayed iPhone 6 manufacturing in both June and July as Apple failed to fit a single layer display backlight film instead of the usual two.
Apparently the single backlight film was “not bright enough” and it may explain the pair of 5.5-inch iPhone 6 prototypes, with the larger version as a dual layer fail-safe.
Either way what is clear is the iPhone 6 is the most radical iPhone redesign to date and it presents Apple with an array of manufacturing challenges – especially as it is apparently being made in conjunction with the iWatch.
Will Apple pull it off? With major rivals incoming and the September 9th launch imminent we will know very soon.