With the iPhone 6 ready to launch, here's what it needs to succeed

With the iPhone 6 ready to launch, here's what it needs to succeed

Summary: Apple's latest smartphone will be out the doors later this month. But for Apple to succeed it has to appeal to both consumers and business customers. Here's what it has to land with, in order to take off.

SHARE:
iphone-6-hero
(Image: CNET)

We have a time, and a place. We don't have the new iPhone 6 yet, but it's on its way — with its debut set to launch later this month.

Read this

Apple announces September 9 event for iPhone 6 reveal

Apple announces September 9 event for iPhone 6 reveal

It's time to meet the new iPhone, and maybe a long-awaited wearable device.

Apple on Thursday sent out invites to the media confirming the (previously rumoured) event on September 9. We're expecting to see for the first time the new smartphone. We may also get our first peek at the long awaited wearable, dubbed "iWatch" by pundits.

Apple watchers see this latest launch as the most anticipated release in years. Not least because we're expecting an overhaul to the device's design, but it's also widely slated to be the thread that ties Apple's future yet-to-be-launched ecosystem together.

Why? Because whatever else Apple has up its sleeve, the iPhone will be the single point that brings your health wearable, dubbed the iWatch, and your home automation — as well as other devices considered part of the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution, like bathroom scales, thermostats, and even your car.

At more than half the company's first quarter revenue, Apple is more focused on keeping the iPhone refreshed than any other device it has in its roster. At its last earnings call, the company's iPhone gravy train began to wane.

Here's what Apple has to get out there in order to appease the masses. 

A larger, slimmer, more robust design

healthkit
(Image: ZDNet)

The iPhone 5s took its inspiration from three iterations before it — starting with the iPhone 4. Although some improvements have been made (think "Antennagate"), the design of the iPhone 6 is expected to have a similar feel to the iPhone 3GS.

It's not that Apple has stopped innovating, but with much of the same design over four device versions, something has to finally give. 

Expect a redesigned device, without Apple going all-out on something crazy, like LG did with the G Flex's curved display. Apple needs to keep things fresh without going overboard. But there's no doubt we'll see something larger in size than the iPhone 5s, perhaps even slimmer and stronger. There have been reports that the iPhone 6 may land with a sapphire screen to make the display less vulnerable to bumps and scratches.

All-day battery life — this time for real 

No matter which way you use your iPhone, many have complained of poor (or less than optimum) battery life. Particularly for business users out of the office, on assignment, or in the field, your smartphone keeps you connected to what's going on at the office.

Battery life has always been a problem for iPhone users — even when you're running the latest stable version of Apple's iOS software. While most users want their battery to run all day, come rain or shine, more often is the case that by lunchtime your iPhone is back in the dock, charging up for the remainder of the day. That's even sooner if you're a heavy user, or you're in an area with an underdeveloped cell infrastructure. 

Apple recently announced an iPhone 5 battery replacement program. Though not every device has suffered, and is not said to affect later iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c devices, it shows even the more recent smartphones have struggled with keeping their power for the full day.

Expect some improvements to the iPhone 6's battery life, but until we see it in person, we won't know how big of a deal it will be. 

A larger, but not oversized screen

Apple's screen sized bumped from the iPhone 4s to the iPhone 5. And the iPhone user base was better for it. Adding less than half-an-inch to the device's height, a world of new possibilities opened up for those who browsed, emailed, messaged, and video-called on the go. 

And while other mobile manufacturers have made the jump to "phablet"-sized devices, Apple has fallen behind. But after months of leaks and rumors, there's enough to suggest that a new sharper, brighter, and larger display will make its debut with the iPhone 6.

Read more from CNET

iPhone 6: Sorting through fact and fiction around Apple's upcoming smartphone

iPhone 6: Sorting through fact and fiction around Apple's upcoming smartphone

What will Apple include, and skip, in the next version? We parse the rumors.

Among the latest reports, 9to5Mac's Mark Gurman — a reliable source of pre-release Apple news — suggests a new sharper 1704x960 resolution display is in the works. This would give a resolution density of between 356-416 pixels per inch, significantly higher than the 300 pixels per inch limitation of the human retina. 

Meanwhile, Apple pundit John Gruber suggests two-sized iPhones may arrive next week, saying there is "too much smoke… for there not to be a fire." He reckons we could see a 4.7-inch display with "double" the Retina resolution, and a 5.5-inch display with three times the resolution of the iPhone 5s. 

Recent Apple v. Samsung documentation showed the company was pushing for a larger device to compete with the larger "phablet" range of devices, notably from its main Korean smartphone maker rival.

The key issue here is the "holdability" factor. Can one reasonably hold the new iPhone — even the 5.5-inch device, comfortably in one hand? Sans a physical keyboard (which Apple would never do, unlike BlackBerry which made its name with its smartphone keyboards), many still text and email with one hand. Can Apple find the size sweet spot without upsetting the masses? 

Health and connectivity

Finally, the software. Apple's next iPhone is a tale of two parts: the physical handset, and the software that comes with it.

iOS 8 is packed with a number of new features, building on the successes of iOS 7. Don't expect much to change visually, but it does land with a few productivity punches that aims to make life easier in a number of ways.

Three of the major features are:

Health: One of the major breakthroughs reportedly on deck for the new software is a health-oriented app. It's part of a major push by the Cupertino, Calif.-based company to get into health and fitness tracking. It's reportedly set to include bloodwork, heartrate monitoring, blood pressure — metrics that have yet to be added to any smartphone — and other activity, including nutrition intake. Apple has already made some strategic hires in the medical field to fill roles in this division. How this fits into a highly anticipated smartwatch remains unclear — or if we'll see an "iWatch" wearable this year also remains under wraps.

NFC for mobile payments? The latest reports point to near-field communications (NFC) landing in the next iPhone. Apple missed the beat on NFC, often used for making wireless payments in cabs, coffee shops, and other retail outlets. But with a rumoured software wallet landing in the next version of iOS 8, it's looking increasingly likely that Apple will finally make its debut in the next-generation smartphone. Wireless payments may not benefit most business customers much, but it could help in keeping track of those minor expenses one makes throughout the week.

Touch ID improvements: It's also expected that the fingerprint software will improve significantly, after receiving additional features and updates in the latest iOS 7.1.1 update. The biometric technology may open up to other in-built Apple apps, such as iTunes and authorized mobile payments partners. 

touch-FULL
(Image: CNET)

Will it appeal to the enterprise?

At this point, at any point a new iPhone is in the works, the enterprise gets a little giddy. But over the years as Apple has begun to wake up to the growing base of enterprise customers — particularly the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) users — the iPhone maker has increasingly had to, and aimed to appease its unintended customer base.

There are a number of improvements for the enterprise customer in iOS 8, which will land when the iPhone 6 is launched, including better mobile device management (MDM), encrypted backups, greater enterprise Wi-Fi support, and complex passcodes. 

But most business users won't even use these features. They're for the back-end. At the end of the day, so long as the device itself works well, runs smoothly, lasts for the full day, and comes with the benefits to improve both our home and work lives, Apple's next iPhone should be a success.

Topics: Apple, Enterprise Software, iOS, iPhone, Mobile OS, Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

40 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
    • Not all - my iPhone 5 is way, way, way better than the Moto Droid 2 Global

      Being a real person who doesn't change phones more often than my two year contract term allows, I've only had two smart phones. A Motorola Droid 2 Global - where the battery regularly was below 20% before 4 pm. And an iPhone 5, where my battery often has 40 to 60% left by 5:30 pm.

      So for me, the iPhone 5 has been great on battery life.
      Wm. Brown
      • crap is better than crappier

        if it's not the worst, you can find something crappier to compare it to.
        way of the apologist
        warboat
        • I don't need to compare.

          I have an iPhone 4S, over 2 years old. I manage my batter life by turning off WiFi unless I am using it. I get 7.5 hrs usage and 1 day, 14 hrs standby before I get to 10% battery left and I plug it in to charge.

          Sorry, but those stats work great for me so any complaints from the Windows faithful are falling on deaf ears. I will probably even skip the iPhone 6 and wait for the iPhone 6S before upgrading.
          NoMore MicrosoftEver
  • No signs it's getting better, either

    Same battery. More efficient chip will be offset by higher performance, causing similar amount of battery drain. Bigger screen will offset any other efficiencies Apple can squeak out. My guess, the new iPhone's battery will be as bad or worse than the 5s'.

    As to the other innovations: "It's not that Apple has stopped innovating." Yeah, it kind of is. What was the last new thing Apple brought to the table...Siri? They bought that. The iPhone is still riding the wave of success set off by "pinch-to-zoom," as far as I can tell.

    Everywhere Apple goes these days, Android has gone before. Sometimes, Apple does it better than their competitors (fingerprint ID), and sometimes they don't (notification center), but there's very little that's looking new in the i6. NFC? Been there, done that.

    I guess we'll see. But the days of Apple's relevance seem to be rapidly waning. They're really second fiddle now.
    x I'm tc
    • Do you truly believe what you are saying?

      We have an Android phone in our home. The myriad of half-baked features and navigation that goes round in circles is enough to drive a person nuts unless they have significant time to figure it all out. No thanks, my life is busy enough without being devoted to the complexities of a damn phone.

      If you really look at what is happening and the numbers you would realize that Apple isn't even in the same race. So be happy with your Android device, but don't achieve it by bashing Apple too much. Good hearted rivalry is fun. But, remember, the overwhelming majority of Apple customers are really really happy and don't really give a crap what folks like you say.
      CowLauncher
      • Do you have Android 2.0?

        Your comment suggest you have a very old phone and/or very old android. I've use the Navigation in the US, China, Cambodia, Africa - and it always stuns me with its accuracy. You should probably stick with Apple - or buy one of those old people phones with the big buttons. either one should work just as well for you. :)
        larsonjs
        • I think you missed it.

          We don't care. iPhones work great for the segment that actually buys them (like me). Go tell someone else how impressed you are with your phone cuz I don't care (nor do many others so please give us a break).
          NoMore MicrosoftEver
          • Typical fanboy...

            Doesn't care about reality.
            siskol
        • I actually work in media production and technology

          My iPhone tells me when there is an upgrade available and with a click it backs up and installs. Done and done. Not a peep from the Xperia since we have had it… Who knows what's going on there. With my career and life, I don't have time to chase down phone updates. To me the kind of product thoughtfulness Apple provides in their gear and services shows real sophistication and I appreciate and value that. Maintaining my devices is not a hobby for me, where it might be for others.
          CowLauncher
  • What do you want to see?

    Anything you're particularly looking forward to? Is there anything you absolutely need in a new smartphone? Or is the iPhone 6 launch not important or interesting to you?

    (Please refrain from personal attacks, flaming, or anything that isn't helpful to the discussion. We're all friends here...)
    zwhittaker
    • Sorry Zack

      I really do honestly believe that Apple is so far behind the curve that what they do isn't interesting other than the fact that it is Apple, the most profitable tech company in the world. In talking with current Apple users, I think that apple may get more pushback than they think from the larger screens. Many of my friends DO NOT WANT a larger screen. They really like the 5S. I think their crazy, but it is what they want! If I were advising Apple, I would suggest a current size screen and a 4.7" screen for those who want to move up. I have a Note 3 and love it, but I'm not sure mainstream Apple users are ready for something that large.
      larsonjs
      • Never underestimate the stupidity of Apple fanboys...

        "Many of my friends DO NOT WANT a larger screen."

        Yeah, like they didn't want smaller tablets, which they thought they were useless (because God-Steve said so.) And yet when Apple copied the idea and released the iPad mini, they bought it in droves, actually even more than regular iPads. My prediction: Apple fanboys will buy the iPhablet by the millions and claim that Apple got the bigger phone just right, unlike anything non-Apple.

        These people are soooooooooo predictable, it's not even funny anymore.
        siskol
    • Couple of current misses that would help

      More RAM and ability to redefine default apps.
      RAM - in our enterprise iOS are relegated to report/email/calendar functionality. Android is the same but allows the ability to execute training, document revision/signing and other functions.
      Default Apps - too many of iOS functions are limited or predicated on interacting with other iOS devices. Then add maps, email and other limited functions that many would replace with more robust or protected selections.
      rhonin
    • more than a 2013 phone with a 2015 price tag.

      I'm sure the new iPhone will sell very well, but I'm not interested in buying a phone that adding features other phones have already had for years.

      Apple would really have to deliver some sort of very special features or services to catch my attention at this point.
      Emacho
  • A lot of fluff - as any vaporware review is

    Bigger screens - yeah everybody wants one, unless you like to slip your phone into your pocket.

    Longer battery life - of course, who doesn't want it, unless you think thinner is more important.

    Thinner - of course, but not if you want the batter life.

    Improved finger print sensor - sure, why not?

    So really it is all about the software.

    I don't think it will be momentous, but that is fine. Make it work. Keep it reasonably affordable. That's all I need.
    Wm. Brown
    • you need the slimmest iphone...

      so that you can buy a fat case to protect the glass impact zones and a fat battery case to bring it back to half inch thick and half pound weight.
      often see iphone users with their iphone 5/5s tethered to a battery pack with a cable, and they carry it around like it's standard practice.
      never see a Samsung phone being carried around with a cable attached to a battery pack.
      warboat
      • Yes I have to carry a cable for samsung note

        I wanted a phone with bigger screen for online training purposes, bought Samsung Note. After few months the battery started acting up. Had to buy a backup battery, so as phone does not go dead in middle of nowhere.

        Was expecting a bigger iPhone, did not saw coming any time sooner, bought IPhone 5s. Wish this time around the rumors are true :))
        kb.kanore@...
        • I've had Note 1, 2 and 3

          If the battery goes crappy, you change it. Simple. Cheap.
          The worst you do is carry a spare battery in your wallet or pocket.
          You don't carry it around with a juicepack tethered to the phone so you can get thru a whole day like some iphone 5 users.
          warboat
  • holding out an upgrade

    To see what this is all about.
    I have 4 (!) devices that will be off contract by October, so upgrades are due.
    ray746
  • Really?

    Every iPhone launch has been a success. It doesn't matter anymore.
    Cun Con