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Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, stands in front of a slide showing the evolution of the Apple iPhone over its first five years at an event in San Francisco, Wednesday Sept. 12, 2012. Apple is poised to introduce a new iPhone on Sept. 10, 2013 that could come in a gold color and have a fingerprint reader as the "home" button. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Oh My Tech!: Will the next iPhone be worth waiting for?

By Vince Horiuchi

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Feb 20 2014 07:35 am • Last Updated Feb 21 2014 02:19 pm

I received gift cards for Christmas to buy the iPhone 5S. In a previous column you wrote about the probable upgrades to the next iPhone over the current one. In your opinion will the upgrades be worth waiting for? — Ann Parkinson, Sandy.

Ahh, the "Timing Question." Do you keep waiting for the newest upgrade of that gadget you want, or do you pull the trigger now only to have a newer upgrade come out two weeks later, or worse, it’s discounted just after you buy it?

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But when it comes to the iPhone, deciding on what to do is a little easier. First, a new version of the phone only comes out once a year, and the way the release cycle has been established, it’s usually around September. Second, the updates have followed a specific pattern: Whenever the next phone is given a new number, for example "iPhone 4", "iPhone 5," it will be a bigger upgrade that usually includes significant new features. Whenever it’s labeled with an "S," such as the "iPhone 4S"or the "iPhone 5S," the update is usually incremental with only minor improvements such as a speed increase on the processor or a better camera.

Such was the case with the iPhone 5S which only got a better processor, more features added the camera, and a new color, gold. But the case, design and size of the screen remained the same.

Whether you should wait another six months for an iPhone 6 largely depends on timing. Do you really want or need a new phone now? If so, then having that phone for an extra six months may trump any new features you might get if you were to wait for the iPhone 6 in the fall.

But make no mistake: The new iPhone 6 will likely have big changes. Here’s what’s been churning out of the rumor mill:

The proposed iPhone 6, or whatever it will be called, is expected to be big, and I don’t just mean in terms of anticipation. The phone likely will grow in size — finally.

For the last couple of years, other handsets, particularly Android-based phones, have been growing in screen size, from 4.7 inches diagonally to a whopping 6 inches with the recently-released LG G Flex. The increase in sales with the phones have proven that many consumers want a bigger screen. Yet, the iPhone has remained relatively small at 4 inches diagonally.

Count me as one of those customers who would love to see an iPhone with a bigger screen and a higher screen resolution to go with it. The bigger screen is what had me forego the iPhone last year and get an HTC One Android-based phone, which has a larger 4.7-inch screen. Eventually, I gave up on the Android phone because I much preferred the elegance and ease of use of the iPhone’s operating system.

This year, all evidence suggests that I’ll finally get what I want — Apple will finally allow its phone to grow up.

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There have been reports that Apple is testing at least two different sizes of screens, one around 4.7 inches diagonally and another that is more than 5 inches. Some pundits believe that Apple won’t release two new sizes but only one, and if they do, I would bet on the smaller 4.7-ish display. Hopefully, Apple will also raise the screen’s resolution along with the size.

The new phone also will have the requisite faster processor, which is an upgrade that happens with every new version. There’s also the strong rumor that the camera’s resolution will finally be bumped up from its current 8 megapixels to something that is around 13 megapixels. Apple has been bullish about improving its camera by upgrading the quality of the senor and its ability to let in light rather than the number of megapixels, which is a smart move. The iPhone 5S camera is still the best of any mobile device, regardless of how many megapixels there are.

So if you wait for an iPhone 6, be prepared for the biggest upgrade the iPhone has seen in quite awhile.

If you have a tech question for Vince, email him at ohmytech@sltrib.com, and he’ll try to answer it for his column in The Salt Lake Tribune or on its website. For an archive of past columns, go to www.sltrib.com/Topics/ohmytech.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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