The annual emergence of a new iPhone is always hotly anticipated and simultaneously shrouded in mystery. Or at least Apple attempts to keep its upcoming devices as secret as possible, without actually being able to prevent some major morsels of information from leaking.

2013 is another significant moment for the iPhone, because it marks a point at which the mobile marketplace is more saturated than ever. There are even suggestions that the popularity of this device is about to plateau, with rivals nipping at its market share. The flagship iPhone is likely to be launched alongside a smaller, cheaper device which is generally expected to be called the iPhone 5C (Apple iPhone 5 Colour). But what improvements will Apple bring to the table with its big hitter this year and are there any things that it should do to win over fans?

Apple iPhone 6 Design

Although last year’s iPhone 5 did slim down and increase in length, it still looks almost indistinguishable from the iPhone 4 and 4S which came before it, particularly from a distance. Apple loyalists are getting increasingly antsy in anticipation of a major change to the look and feel of their favourite mobile, so if they are to be seriously impressed then the Apple iPhone 6 design needs to be a real step forwards. Thankfully there is evidence that it might break away from the norm even if the changes are not too drastic.

Reports from MacRumours suggest that the next iPhone could come in more than two different colours, with leaked shots showing charcoal grey and gold SIM card trays, suggesting that this could well be the case.

Screen

Apple’s upgrade to a four inch screen on the iPhone 5 was welcome, although the use of the same pixel density as its predecessors has meant that it has since been eclipsed by the full HD might of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One.

Reports suggest that Apple could be doubling the resolution for the iPhone 5S/6, even if it does not actually increase the size beyond four inches.

This would give it one of the highest pixel densities on the mobile market and make it unbeatable for responsiveness and user interactivity.

There have also been rumours of an iPhone fingerprint scanner, with an Apple patent filing suggesting that this inclusion will help to improve security for handset users in the next generation or so. A new screen and a fingerprint scanner would definitely prove to naysayers that Apple is not allowing the iPhone range to stagnate.

**Reality Check – **Which Apple devices will be released in 2013?

Hardware

It’s a given that Apple will be adding the new A7 processor to the iPhone 6/5S when it arrives later this year, boosting the power over the previous generation and making sure that it can handle all the new features. By this point the improvements to mobile processors have become so expected as to be quite boring, so Apple needs to innovate in other hardware areas to capture the attention of fans with iPhone fatigue.

One option that could grab the headlines is NFC (near field communication). Adding an NFC chip to the next iPhone will mean that people will finally be able to make contactless payments and indulge in superfast data transfers over short ranges, just as has been possible on various Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone devices for the last year. Apple should also endow the next iPhone with wireless charging capabilities, since this is quickly becoming a must-have feature that would definitely make it more competitive with similarly equipped rivals.

Software

Arguably the biggest addition to the new iPhone and the one which could enhance its saleability, is the iOS 7 operating system. This has already been showcased in part during the WWDC 2013 conference, but Apple still needs to reveal more about the platform.

iOS 7 features a completely redesigned user interface that does away with old icons and adds in a host of new interactivity options, including gesture-based controls and better multitasking. iOS 7 also brings a new version of Siri and a service called iTunes Radio, which is basically Apple’s answer to Spotify. It is all strong stuff and as the iPhone 6 release date approaches we can expect to hear a lot of additional information.

Chances of Success

Whatever Apple does to the new iPhone 6 design and features, it is still going to sell millions of units shortly after its arrival thanks to the reputation of the brand.

What really matters, of course, are the long term sales prospects for this phone. Most indicators point to the idea that Apple is opting for an incremental upgrade rather than a completely revolutionary design. This means the iPhone 6 is probably not coming out until 2014 and instead we will be getting the iPhone 5S this year, along with the iPhone 5C or iPhone Mini for those on a budget. Those who are desperate for change may not be satisfied completely, but if your last upgrade was back in 2011 and you want to swap out the iPhone 4S for a newer device then the next iPhone could be ideal.