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iPhone 6 Rumor Roundup: It's Never Too Early

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While it could be another 10 months before it's released, the iPhone 6 is still generating much buzz and theory.

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In a world where US presidential candidates are groomed for a campaign the moment another one is elected, it's not unthinkable for analysts to begin spouting theories about what features the next iPhone will have only a few months after the previous one was released. As they say, nothing stops the ever-churning Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) rumor mill.

In the last few years, the iPhone has fallen behind the technological curve and had its glimmering sheen dulled in the shadow of other fully capable devices. Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) recent entries like the Nexus 5 and Moto X, as well as Samsung's (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) Galaxy S4 and HTC One, all sport advanced features that rival or outpace Apple's offerings, making the iPhone a little less special than when it debuted in a field of also-ran devices. To that end, Apple is now under more pressure than ever to deliver an iPhone with game-changing features that blow Cupertino's competitors out of the water. (See: Why Apple's Reputation Depends on the iPhone 5S)

And already there are some rumors and theories as to what Apple will deliver in the next year. Some predict simple improvements to existing features, while other improvements could redefine what makes an iPhone an iPhone. But a few new features could put the technological edge back in the hands of Cupertino.

Bigger Screen

As Android screens typically hover around five inches and up, iPhones -- especially those prior to the iPhone 5 -- appear positively diminutive by comparison. Well, rumor has it that the upcoming iPhone 6 may be given an expansion to show off those Retina Displays. Prototypes sporting 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens are allegedly being tested, meaning one (or both!) could make its way to consumers' hands. (See: Where's Apple Going With the Next iPhone?)

Curved Screen

Not only is Apple said to be pushing screen size, the company could introduce a curved screen. Like the Samsung Galaxy Round and LG's (NYSE:LPL) G Flex, the iPhone may have a concave screen to better conform to a user's cheek. Additionally, Apple might finally make good on a rumor that the iPhone screen will have a wrap-around design, replacing the sides of the aluminum frame with more screen and providing an extra dimension on iOS interface and interaction.

3-D Gesture Controls

Apple recently confirmed that it has acquired PrimeSense, the company responsible for the motion-sensing technology in the original Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Kinect, for an estimated $345 million. (See: What Will Apple Inc. Do With Its Latest Acquisition?) Although that could mean big, new features for the Apple TV or perpetually rumored Apple HDTV, 3-D gesture controls could make their way to the iPhone. But the features wouldn't just stop with facial recognition or page scrolling based on eye movement: The technology may potentially mimic 3-D imagery simply by sensing eye placement and incorporating the 3-D perspective into the screen. If proven successful, this -- perhaps more than any other rumored feature -- would permanently change the smartphone landscape.

Plenoptic Camera

And the PrimeSense buyout keeps paying off. Using its newly acquired technology, Apple may introduce a plenoptic camera to the iPhone's bag of tricks. Famously shown off in the Lytro camera, the focal point in a photo can be adjusted after the picture is taken, thereby decreasing the depth-of-field and giving the already fantastic iPhone camera a dynamic edge.

Improved Siri and TouchID

Unfortunately, given their bugs and glitches, Siri and TouchID have languished as mediocre party tricks rather than solid, dependable modes of interaction. (See: Apple Inc. Botched a Major iPhone 5S Feature, Users Report) However, with the help of the PrimeSense technology and its ability to recognize a user and spatial placement, Siri could be given a boost in intelligence that will help it gain some footing against Google Now. Also, the next generation of the TouchID sensor may become a tiny trackpad, adding an extra layer to the iOS UI.

Scratches Begone!

Anyone who owned an iPhone 4 knows how fragile that glass back was. Sadly, the aluminum that replaced it in the iPhone 5 was even more vulnerable to scratches. However, rumor has it that the iPhone 6 will not only ditch the Gorilla Glass screen for the scratch-resistant sapphire coating found on the current TouchID sensor, but it will also be completely covered in the protective layer, making the entire iPhone case as scratch-proof as its screen.

Earlier Release Date

Up until the release of the iPhone 4S, Apple maintained a summer release date for each new model. But since 2011, the iPhone has held an autumnal setting for its grand debut. That all might change, however, with the iPhone 6, as analyst speculation puts its release back into the mid-2014 summer season. Considering Android gets a new flagship device every few months or so, a quicker turnaround for the next iPhone will definitely help Apple keep up.

Bigger Price Tag

Regrettably, a quicker iPhone debut isn't without its downside. Given the higher cost of new materials and the declining profit margin in recent models, Apple may be forced to boost the price on the already costly iPhone, which it had done with the new iPad Mini. Although that pesky "Apple Tax" is prevalent across its fleet of devices, maybe the iPhone 6 will pack enough revolutionary features so the few extra dollars will be more than worth it.

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