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Apple iPhone 6: The 6 Boring Improvements I Want to See


The iPhone experience is great, but there's always room for tweaks.

It's springtime and love is in the air, but it's still full-on war in the smartphone industry. On the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android side, the two big phones of the moment, Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) Galaxy S5 and HTC (TPE:2498) One M8 (OTCMKTS:HTCXF) have a big task ahead of them -- help their makers thrive, or at least maintain course, in an increasingly strained smartphone market. But of course, what everyone wants to know is -- where does the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 6 fit in here?

Last quarter, Apple shipped 51 million iPhone units, disappointing Wall Street, which expected 55 million. The problem was simple: Apple made too many of the less expensive iPhone 5C units and not enough of the fancy 5S. Whether Apple would have beaten expectations had it gone all-in on the 5S is unknown.

That lack of clarity, combined with the smartphone market's natural slowdown after several years of enormous growth, makes iPhone 6 a product Apple has to get right.

So here are the six things that can make iPhone 6 not only a great product for consumers, but for Apple investors as well:

1. One Big, One Small

On Minyanville's Buzz & Banter (subscription required), I've been closely tracking investor expectations for iPhone 6.

The one universal expectation is the addition of a large-screen iPhone with a display size of about 5.5 inches.

There are rumors of a 4.7-inch screen for the iPhone 5S replacement, which would make it slightly smaller than the Samsung and HTC flagships. My hope is that Apple sticks with a 4-inch screen size.

The bigger model should keep Wall Street happy, but for many people, a 4-inch screen is a great compromise between usability and pocketability.

2. No More Megapixels!

The iPhone 5S camera, like the 5 and 4S, has eight megapixels.

And eight is enough. The Galaxy S5's camera has 16 megapixels and the Sony (NYSE:SNE) Xperia Z2 has an insane 20.7, but for most people's use, all that's going to do is take up storage space.

An uncropped eight-megapixel iPhone photo has a resolution of 3264 x 2448 pixels.

That can more than fill the screen of Apple's 15-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display, which has a native resolution of 2880 x 1800, and it's certainly sufficient for social applications like Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), and Instagram.

Besides, anyone who's truly concerned about camera resolution probably already owns a serious camera.

And kudos to HTC!

The One M8 has just five megapixels, though HTC calls them "ultrapixels." Reviewers are applauding the One M8's low-light performance -- something that can actually be hampered by a high-megapixel count.

So Apple, don't give us more pixels. Just give us better ones!

(Also see: Apple Will Improve the iPhone 6 Camera, but Not With More Megapixels.)
3. Improved Battery Life

Some people love Apple.

Some people love Android.

Some people want big phones.

Some people want little phones.

But what does everyone want?

Better battery life!

In December 2013, I read a great essay in Forbes from Antony Leather entitled Why Battery Life Should Be the New Smartphone Battleground.

I can't put it better than this:

The trouble is, few if any manufacturers seem to have cottoned on to just how much each of us uses our smartphone. They, and sadly many consumers as well, have been obsessed with size and weight but they forget that smartphones are no longer just things we use lightly for an hour a day.

Many of us play games, check out Facebook or news apps, navigate using a Sat Nav app or Google Maps, download, read, and reply to emails and all manner of other things in addition to make cellular calls and send text messages. We'll do these things on the train, at work, while we're in the bathtub and even in bed.

Sadly, while the processing power and features of modern smartphones is more than up to the task, especially with 4G data speeds coming on tap in many different countries, their batteries simply aren't.

Phones are thin enough as it is. Let's make the iPhone 6 battery a bigger priority.

4. Off-Line Siri

If Siri is so smart, why can't it set an alarm clock or set a reminder if my iPhone's not connected to the Internet?

Obviously Siri needs the Internet to bring up sports scores or restaurant locations, but preventing off-line usage seems like a cheap way of ensuring Apple collects maximum data on our Siri search queries.

Many iPhone users spend a great deal of time on subways and planes, and it's possible that off-line usage of Siri could increase total usage of Siri.

In fact, I stopped using Siri altogether because I couldn't set my alarm clock in my bedroom, which seemed to be a bit of a dead spot for wireless service with my iPhone 4S. The 5S has performed much better for me, but it just never occurs to me to start using Siri again.

5. Allow Customization of Control Center

By far, my favorite feature of the iPhone's iOS 7 operating system is the Control Center, which you bring up by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.

But why can't you customize the Control Center screen itself without a jailbreak app?

For example, I'd love to get rid of the Do Not Disturb and Calculator buttons, and replace them with the Podcasts and Reminders.

Or what if someone uses Instagram exclusively instead of the iPhone camera app? Why can't that be in there?

6. Tougher!

Last Thursday, I attended PepCom's Digital Focus event in New York City. I was struck by how nice the HTC One M8 was, and wanted to compare it with my iPhone 5S.

I quickly realized that I forgot what my iPhone looks like because it's been in a case since the day I owned it.

There are rumors circulating that the iPhone 6 will have a completely scratch-proof crystal sapphire screen.

But iPhone screens are already pretty tough.

What I want is for the rest of the phone to be as durable so there's no need for a $30 case!

Covering a beautiful phone with a $30+ piece of plastic just seems wrong.


By default, technical specifications will always get better. And in all likelihood, the iPhone 6 will have a much faster processor and graphics capabilties.

But what really sets Apple products apart is the one thing that actually matters -- the user experience.

Everything else -- NFC capabilities, biometric sensors, 3D displays -- is secondary.

And as good as the iPhone experience is, it can always get better.

So what's on your iPhone 6 wish list? Tell us in the comments below!

Twitter: @MichaelComeau

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