iPhone 6 (Martin Hajek 010)

Apple has apparently decided on the design of its next iPhone and specifications are said to include a 4.8-inch display, according to an analyst with Cowen and Company who must have been following our non-scientific poll which had the majority of respondents opt for a 4.7-inch form factor.

The phone should additionally include the latest 802.11ac networking, also known as Gigabit Wi-Fi, for three times greater wireless transfer speeds. Apple currently supports Gigabit Wi-Fi in the recently refreshed AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule wireless appliances and across its Mac Pro, MacBook and iMac families…

Timothy Arcuri of Cowen and Company (via AppleInsider) wrote in yesterday’s note to clients that Apple has internally “locked down” the iPhone 6 design with Gigabit Wi-Fi and a 4.8-inch screen. Samsung’s Galaxy S4 and HTC’s One both support 802.11ac Wi-Fi networking. He does not expect the phone to exceed five inches due to Apple’s “unwavering principle of one hand use.”

That Apple only now locked down the design suggests it’s still months away from bringing a larger-screened iPhone to market. Given Tim Cook’s annual refresh cycle, the iPhone 6 should get introduced in Fall, in line with past three iPhone generations.

Acuri acknowledged as much, estimating that Apple will launch the iPhone 6 in September 2014. He’s also expecting some “key software innovations” such as a long-rumored mobile payment solution from Apple leveraging the existing iBeacons, Touch ID and Passbook technologies.

Aside from hardware tweaks and design changes, Arcuri also said that Apple is planning “key software innovations” with the next major release of its iOS platform.

He expects the company will leverage iBeacon, Touch ID and Passbook as part of a push into new services with mobile payments.

This sounds very compelling.

With the iPhone 5s and iOS 6 and 7, Apple has cleverly laid groundwork for mobile payments with Touch ID, Passbook and iBeacons. These technologies could allow Apple to integrate loyalty programs and digital coupons with a secure payment system.

A user’s payment information could be securely stored on the Secure Enclave module as it’s physically isolated from other components. Currently, Secure Enclave stores non-identifable fingerprint data of an iPhone 5s user.

Apple A7 chip (Secure Enclave 001)

Touch ID could be used to authenticate payments and iTunes billing could take care of actually charging your credit card on file.

How all of this might come together is up for the debate, but one thing’s certain: if Apple chooses to enter mobile payments with a solution of its own, it’s going to be seamless – as in, it’ll “just work”.

Are you excited about the next iPhone replacing your wallet?

Mockup via Martin Hajek.