iPhone 6: what we want to see, what you want to see
We reveal the features we - and the PC Pro readers - would like to see in the iPhone 6
Whether it's called the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 or something completely different, Apple’s next-generation iPhone must lay down a marker.
Apple’s share of the smartphone market isn’t slipping away as drastically as its share price, but there’s no question that the competition is continuing to improve while Apple stands still. Nokia is delivering compelling Windows Phone handsets at both the budget and high end of the market, while the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One bolster the Android market with Full HD screens, Apple-rivalling handset build (in the case of the HTC One, at least) and an ever-more attractive operating system.
This article was updated on 2 April 2013 to include readers' suggested features
Here, we outline the steps we think Apple must take to reinvigorate the iPhone, to make it the aspirational handset once more. And from the comments on this article, we've now incorporated the features that you would like to see, too.
Please feel free to keep adding your suggestions in Comments at the foot of this article.
What we want to see
iOS is looking tired. The 4x4 or 4x5 grid of icons has been aped, bettered and left behind. The homescreen must work harder: a little number indicating how many unread emails or tweets you have isn’t helpful enough; you shouldn’t have to unlock your phone and drag down the notifications panel to find out if that message is spam or from your boss if you miss the initial alert.
Jonathan Ive must make the iOS homescreen more than a glorified app launcher
The Android homescreen has become an attractive dashboard of vital data, while still offering fast access to apps. The Windows Phone homescreen bristles with Live tiles delivering useful updates and calendar reminders. BlackBerry 10’s Hub is an invaluable one-stop shop for catching up on messages from several different streams. Jonathan Ive must make the iOS homescreen more than a glorified app launcher.
Better battery life
The iPhone’s battery life may be no worse than many other smartphones, but the fact that a market even exists for third-party battery slices should embarrass Apple. Battery life simply isn’t good enough: even a moderate amount of gaming, tweeting and listening to Spotify can force you to plug the device back into the mains before the day is out. A smartphone that you’re frightened to use isn’t that smart.
Apple is as hamstrung by the limits of lithium ion batteries as every other phone manufacturer, but could it sacrifice a little of the styling, making a thicker iPhone with a bigger battery that would truly last all day? We suggest that’s a sacrifice many would be willing to accept.
Apple’s hunt-and-peck Qwerty keyboard is now brutally inefficient compared to rival offerings. Alternatives such as Swype, which allow you to swish your finger over letters instead of typing each one individually, largely avoid the fat-fingered typos that regularly slow you down on an iPhone. Likewise, the word-prediction system on the BlackBerry Z10 is far more intelligent than that of the iPhone, which stubbornly continues to insist on autocorrecting entries even after you’ve rejected them once.
Apple either needs to improve its on-screen keyboard, or get out of the way and let third-party developers offer their own alternatives in the App Store.
Resist the big-screen rush
Android manufacturers are seemingly obsessed with making screens bigger. The Samsung Galaxy S4, Sony Xperia Z and HTC One are all 5in or thereabouts, creating handsets that are not only cumbersome to use with one hand, but harder to slip into trouser pockets – especially if you like to put a protective case on your smartphone.
“My readers-gripes inbox suggests that 4.2-4.3in is the sweet-spot for a huge chunk of the population, and the manufacturers are ignoring this when it comes to high-end kit,” according to our Real World mobile expert, Paul Ockenden. We hope Apple isn’t dragged into believing bigger is better, too.
More, cheaper models
It’s no longer enough for Apple to have one, premium iPhone model. Nokia, HTC and others have proven that it’s possible to deliver compelling smartphones that free on contracts staring from as little as £20 per month. Apple won’t want to enter a race to the bottom, but neither can it sustain the level of smartphone sales it’s built up over the past four years by continuing to deliver only the most expensive smartphone on the market. (Yes, it continues to sell older iPhone models at a discount, but there’s a psychological barrier to buying last year’s model, even if the hardware remains competitive.)