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What Apple needs to offer with the iPhone 6

It's never too early to start speculating, so here's a laundry list of items that Apple should introduce in next year's model.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read
The iPhone 5S is here. Time to think about the iPhone 6.
The iPhone 5S is here. Time to think about the iPhone 6. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

The iPhone 5S, unveiled Tuesday, adds some cool new features to Apple's lineup but is still just an incremental upgrade over its predecessor. What should Apple add to the iPhone 6 to entice consumers?

Bigger screen
Apple bumped the size of the iPhone's display to 4 inches last year, but that now seems tiny compared with the competition. Samsung, LG, HTC, Nokia, and other device makers are trying to outdo each with bigger screens. Apple has never played the game of follow the leader, but 2014 seems ripe for an even larger iPhone screen. Apple should avoid the huge "plablet" size favored by some companies but still outfit the iPhone 6 with at least a 4.5-inch display.

Wi-Fi 802.11ac
Apple tends to wait until a market matures before diving in. It did equip its latest MacBook Airs and AirPort routers with the new flavor of Wi-Fi. Other companies have introduced routers and networking gear with Wi-Fi 802.11ac. But the market is still just taking off. That should start to change after the IEEE approves the new Wi-Fi specification later this year. As with any new Wi-Fi version, the standard will take some time to grow. But Apple should jump on it with its next-generation iPhone.

Rumors that Apple would adopt NFC (near-field communications) -- most often talked about in connection with mobile payments, but potentially useful for a lot of things -- have bounced around the past couple of years. But the technology is still a no-show. Again, Apple likes to wait until a market has ironed out all the kinks before it jumps in. A lot of companies have been dabbling with NFC, and several rival smartphones support it. Still, NFC has a way to go before it reaches true consumer adoption. Apple is likely waiting for that to happen, but next year may be the right time to finally offer it. Apple's support of NFC could go a long way in helping drive the technology.

Higher-pixel camera
Apple enhanced the camera for the iPhone 5S but it's still stuck at 8 megapixels. Nokia and other companies have been playing the megapixel game, one that Apple has so far resisted. But with consumers craving beefier smartphone cameras, next year may be time for Apple to boost the megapixel count to lure in more of those potential Lumia buyers.

128GB version
The iPhone still maxes out at 64GB, not a bad amount for a smartphone. And iCloud can take the burden off some of that local storage to house your music, videos, and files online. But people who like to store their items locally or who keep their iPhones for several years could always use a jump in storage. In January, Apple added a 128GB option for the iPad. How about the same option for the iPhone?

Better battery life
Battery life remains the No. 1 mantra of iPhone owners and of smartphone users in general. Our phones always seem to run out of juice before the day is over. Part of the problem is that many of those cool new features in our smartphones add to the battery drain. Apple's specs for the iPhone 5S and 5C show slight gains in the number of hours for standby time. But once the phones reach consumers, we know people will start to complain about battery drain. Whether through better chemistry, better hardware, or better software, Apple should take the lead and boost battery life in the next-gen iPhone.

That's a short list of expected and desired features in the iPhone 6. Have some of your own? Feel free to add them in the comments section.