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Apple Rumor Roundup: What to Expect From iPhone 6 and iWatch

September 9 marks a high holiday for Apple fanatics, and this year the company is expected to announce even more iThings than ever.
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It's one of the biggest weeks of the year in the tech industry: Apple is holding its annual iPhone unveiling on Tuesday. September 9 marks a high holiday for Apple fanatics, and this year the company is expected to announce even more iThings than ever.

While Apple always keeps its mouth shut ahead of product announcements, leaks and rumors begin months ahead of the event. Here are some of the loudest and most credible whispers.

iPhone 6, times two

For the past three years Apple has unveiled the new iPhone at a fall event; a smartphone-focused announcement is all but confirmed. This year is expected to be a bit different, though.

This year, it is strongly rumored Apple will announce two flagship phones: a 4.7-inch and a 5.5-inch, both markedly bigger than the current 4-inch screen. The 5.5-inch "phablet" (phone + tablet) will feature a one-handed mode option, according to the New York Times.

As ever, both iPhone 6 models will feature beefed-up hardware compared with their predecessors:

  • A gem of a screen: Apple has reportedly been working on ultra-durable sapphire crystal screens, which would help protect the iPhone 6 from scratches and cracks that ruin the pricey devices.
  • Mobile payments: Paying for everyday items with our smartphones rather than cash or a physical card simply hasn't caught on yet. Companies like Google and the company formerly known as Isis (just recently renamed "Softcard") have pushed near field communications (NFC) -- a technology that lets phones swap information with nearby devices -- as the future of mobile payments. But NFC hasn't taken off, thanks in large part to Apple holding out. Now, the iPhone 6 is expected to include an NFC chip, according to the Wall Street Journal. That would be a massive boost for NFC proponents, as the giant Apple already has a reported whopping 800 million credit cards on file through iTunes.
  • Improved guts and add-ons: Among other improvements the iPhone 6 is expected to include a new, speedier A8 processor and a better camera.

iWatch-watch to end, finally

At long last, the rumors about Apple's smartwatch plans will be confirmed on Tuesday, according to Re/Code. The so-called "iWatch" may end up stealing the iPhone show from the iPhone itself, thanks to years of pent-up expectations and the excitement around wearable devices as a whole.

The iWatch -- which, like the iPhone 6, is rumored to come in two sizes -- will likely be linked to the HealthKit app that Apple previewed during its iOS 8 unveiling earlier this summer. HealthKit can track heart rate, sleep patterns, and blood pressure and other stats, and it can also bundle data from other trackers for viewing in a single place. Users can also give doctors at certain health facilities access to the data, if they choose.

The watch isn't expected to go on sale until 2015, but it's important for Apple to make a strong entry. Companies like Samsung, Sony, LG and Motorola have been busy releasing watches. Even designers including Ralph Lauren and Tory Burch have waded into wearables, focused on making the devices fashionable enough to attract mainstream consumers.

Apple wants the iWatch to be fashionable, and it's courting the fashion set by inviting industry bigwigs to the September 9 event. "This suggests Apple is serious about tapping into the fashion world, which often sits on the sidelines," a Marie Claire editor told Reuters this weekend.

Finally, like the rumors around iPhone 6, the iWatch is also expected to sport a sapphire screen and a NFC chip. Re/Code reported Apple at least considered a $400 price point.

As always, dozens of other rumors abound, including a report that Apple will announce the next iPad Air as well. But with strong rumors of two iPhone 6 models and a brand new smartwatch, Tuesday is already slated to be one of the most packed fall events in Apple's history.