KGI on iPhone 6: no sapphire, barometric pressure sensor, programmable power button and more

iPhone 6 (retail box, Martin Hajek 004)

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities is on a roll today. After detailing his expectations for an iWatch, the analyst in a note issued to clients today also summarized his thoughts concerning the upcoming iPhone 6 devices which are expected to be unveiled next Tuesday at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino, California.

As per AppleInsider, which has obtained a copy of Kuo’s report to clients, rumored sapphire protection won’t be an option for this year’s iPhone refresh. Moreover, both 4.7 and 5.5-inch models should be available in a 128-gigabyte storage flavor and will include a new barometric pressure sensor to support indoor navigation applications, as well as new health-related functions related to spirometry.

Wrapping up his report, Kuo wrote that the iPhone 6 device should also feature a programmable power button for integration “with specific applications”.

We heard before that the flagship iPhone 6 models should offer 128 gigabytes of storage like the iPad Air, basically doubling the current maximum capacity of 64 gigabytes found in the iPhone 5s, but Kuo is now saying the option won’t be exclusive to the bigger model as previously suspected.

For the sake of completeness, technical drawings that were recently leaked by GeekBar have indicated that Apple may continue to offer the 16-gigabyte version as an entry-level option, but strangely enough skip the 32GB tier altogether.

iWatch and iPhone 6 mockup (Martin Hajek 002)

The analyst is adamant that both 4.7 and 5.5-inch models will get announced next Tuesday, but cautioned that the 5.5-incher shouldn’t be expected until later this year (the 4.7-inch model will arrive in mid-September, he said).

As for the “programmable power button” (now relocated to the right side of the device for one-handed operation), I’m liking the idea of being able to assign the button to specific applications, though I have no idea how this feature might work.

“We now further predict that the power key could be programmable to be integrated with specific applications, giving more input options in addition to being a power switch,” wrote the analyst.

iPhone 6 concept (Packaging, Martin Hajek 001)

As for the sapphire-strengthened screen, I’ve always doubted that 2014 iPhones will use the precious gemstone to protect the screen simply because Apple’s partner GT Advanced only recently began ramping up production of thin sapphire sheets.

Speaking of which, PatentlyApple discovered a European Apple filing weeks ago which details a multi-step ion implantation process to strengthen the sapphire glass after mechanical shaping.

iWatch and iPhone 6 mockup (Martin Hajek 007)

Curiously enough, Kuo’s report makes no mention of a rumored mobile payment feature that Re/code and other major publications insisted are in tow via an NXP-made NFC chip discovered on a leaked iPhone 6 circuit board.

And as MacRumors points out, Kuo is claiming that Apple may actually abandon sapphire protection for the iPhone 6’s rear camera lens protection, citing drop test issues. Sapphire’s hardness is only second to diamond and even though it’s more scratch-resistant than glass, the material shatters more easily on impact versus the traditional cover glass manufactured by Corning.

Drone view (Flint Center 003)

Last week, Apple issued invites for a media event set to take place next Tuesday, September 9, at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Apple’s hometown of Cupertino, strongly hinting at the importance of the upcoming announcements.

The firm has also constructed a mysterious building on the Flint Center grounds, pictured above. As drone images released this morning hinted, the structure is taller than the Flint Center itself.

What do you make of this report?

And, what are your expectations regarding iPhone 6 tech specs.

Reports Kuo released today:

[AppleInsider, MacRumors]

Mockups via Martin Hajek.