Apple’s next iPhone iteration is expected to land this December, and while it’s easy to refer to it as the iPhone 7 the reality is the Cupertino firm is likely to give us another step change in the form of the iPhone 6S.
I’m also expecting a larger model to arrive too, which would take over from the iPhone 6 Plus, and it’ll probably be imaginatively named the iPhone 6S Plus.
There’s already a whole heap of rumors swirling round about the next iPhone, so I’ve gathered them all together and split them up into handy bit sized chunks for your enjoyment.
iPhone 7 concept
The big changes are quite simple: there are two cameras on the back, not for 3D pictures, but to have the ultimate HDR mode with hyper-clear sharpness.
The sides of the phone have been used to allow for stereo speakers – holding the phone in landscape mode for watching movies will leave them unencumbered for brilliant, bass-filled sound. There’s also a touch sensitive panel for the volume, rather than having to mess around finding buttons – a simple slide up and down the side will save your ears.
The home button is the biggest loss, with touchID moving to the screen rather than a dedicated button. This means more space for screen real estate, with the much-needed 1080p resolution finally arriving.
Actually, that’s not the biggest change: you’ll note there’s no headphone jack any more. This seems likely for all Apple smartphones in the future as the company aims for thinner phones, shoving the audio out of the Lightning port or over Bluetooth.
The main problem I can see is this: all this stuff will munch that battery right down, already a slight problem for the Cupertino brand. Hey, they can’t solve everything…
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Apple’s next flagship iPhone
- When is it out? Very likely December 2015
- What will it cost? A lot, at least $649
Apple iPhone 6S / iPhone 7 release date
According to a leaked Vodafone email the iPhone 6S will be arriving in December, which comes as no surprise at all, given that December is when new models typically launch. However it gets a bit more specific with a date of December 25.
On the other hand an earlier report pegs the iPhone 6S / iPhone 7 as launching in August. Apparently the change (if true) is due to an excessive component yield. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo – who has a track record that’s better-than-average but not perfect – thinks an August announcement is likely as well. I’m not convinced though.
According to GSM Dome Apple has started ordering camera sensors from Sony for the iPhone 6C, which follows news that Samsung is reportedly already producing the A9 processor that is expected to be included in the iPhone 6S, so all of the iPhone 6S/7 models could be ahead of schedule.
But while an August launch would be nice December 2015 is still my best guess for the iPhone 6S, as previous models have launched in that same month.
Apple iPhone 6S / iPhone 7 design
The front panel for the iPhone 6S has supposedly been snapped coming off the production line in China and it looks much the same as that on the iPhone 6. It’s not a big surprise: we never expect big design changes on the S models of the iPhone.
This follows the first photos of what might be the iPhone 6S, or at least of its case, leaked a little while back which again suggest it will look identical to the iPhone 6.
However while it might have the same dimensions, a patent suggests there’s a possibility that it could lose those plastic strips we know and hate. A Liquidmetal body is once again a possibility too, as Apple has extended its exclusivity deal with the maker.
On the other hand we’re also hearing rumours the iPhone 6S / iPhone 7 might feature the lightweight and strong Series 7000 aluminium alloy it uses on the Apple Watch Sport. The iPhone 6S could be putting on weight too, as a new report suggests it will be 0.2mm thicker and 0.15mm taller than the iPhone 6, which could mean the camera lens will no longer protrude from the back.
A set of schematics have also emerged which again claim that the iPhone 6S is set to be 0.2mm thicker than the iPhone 6, but will otherwise look pretty much the same as last year’s handset.
The extra depth could be due to Apple including Force Touch technology behind the screen.
It could be getting a new colour scheme as well, as the gold version will apparently be more yellow than it is on the iPhone 6, the space grey version may be getting darker and a rose gold version is said to be on the cards, as well as a pink model.
There are numerous Apple patents in the wild which point to weird and wonderful designs, but haven’t yet come to anything, such as more than one for a phone with a curved display, a little like the Galaxy Note Edge. It’s possible that we could see that in the iPhone 6S, but we’d be very surprised, as it would be a risky move and Apple has only just redesigned its handsets.
Apple iPhone 6S / iPhone 7 screen
The iPhone 6S will probably remain at 4.7 inches, with a 5.5-inch iPhone 6S Plus option too and possibly even a 4.0-inch iPhone 6C model.
As well as being available in a smaller size, the screen might get tougher, as rumours suggest that Apple has teamed with Foxconn to produce sapphire displays for the iPhone 6S.
Such screens were rumoured for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but production difficulties seemingly got in the way. Hopefully this time we actually will get them as it would bring better scratch protection and higher visibility to the screen.
Sources spoke to Chinese site Feng and revealed the iPhone 6S is set to get a 1080p display whilst the iPhone 6S Plus will jump up to 2K. We don’t know much about the site – let’s hope Apple has a solution for battery life to tackle the amount of extra juice this is sure to eat up.
Apple iPhone 6S / iPhone 7 rivals
As the only flagship iOS device the iPhone 6S will be in the fortunate position of not having any direct rivals. But look towards Android and it could have quite a lot of competition. The HTC One M9, LG G4, Sony Xperia Z3+ and Samsung Galaxy S6 are high end alternatives and are likely to have dropped in price considerably by the time the iPhone 6S launches.
Both also sport a premium design, making them every bit as aesthetically pleasing as the iPhone 6. Speaking of the iPhone 6, that too could be a rival, since the iPhone 6S will probably have the same look and may not have many new features.
Samsung is bound to have another Note up its sleeve, with the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 likely to be a serious iPhone 6S Plus rival.
Apple iPhone 6S / iPhone 7 camera and battery
Someone who claims to work for Foxconn has revealed that the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus will have 12MP rear cameras and support 4K video, as well as 240fps slow-motion footage.
The front-facing cameras will apparently be 5MP and could also benefit from a flash, 1080p video, slow motion video and a panorama mode if hints found in the iOS 9 code are to be believed.
We’ve heard rumors of that 12MP boost before too and Apple has acquired a company which creates smartphone cameras designed to match DSLR quality, so we could also see a big jump in image quality on the iPhone 6S.
That lines up with earlier reports from Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, who said the iPhone 6S will have “the biggest camera jump ever”, featuring a two-lens system which apparently brings it up to DSLR quality.
There’s even an outside chance that the camera might include a lens swap feature, making it even more like a DSLR, as back in early 2014 an Apple patent for swappable lenses was uncovered.
But don’t hold your breath for these features, as the original two-lens rumour has had doubt cast on it by a separate source, claiming that it won’t happen as it would apparently require a radical redesign of the chassis – something we’re not likely to see until the following year.
The battery may be in for a boost though, as Apple is seemingly going on a hiring spree for battery-related positions.
Apple iPhone 6S / iPhone 7 OS and power
Apparently the iPhone 7 could have a new Qualcomm made LTE chip, which would both double its 4G speeds and lead to longer battery life, as the chip is more efficient than the one found in the iPhone 6.
Recently China Mobile revealed its plans for a new LTE-Advanced network, which will allow Cat 6-enabled products to use super-fast LTE-A mobile internet, and Apple was mentioned as part of the announcement.
Although Apple has not spoken about its LTE-A Cat 6 ambitions, the inclusion of its logo by China Mobile could have been an accidental reveal of Apple’s plans for the iPhone 6S.
The iPhone 6S will clearly ship with iOS 9 and we know all about Apple’s upcoming software now too. Expect improvements to Siri and Apple Maps, a new keyboard and battery life extending smarts among other things.
The iPhone 6S will of course come with a new processor, probably dubbed the A9 and we’re hearing again that Samsung is in the frame to build the chip, which will apparently be 15% smaller, 20% more powerful and 35% more power efficient than the Apple A8 processor found in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
It will also be better to flick around, thanks to the mooted upgrade in the specs – 2GB of RAM would certainly soup up an already zippy phone and it’s an upgrade which has now been rumoured a second time and a third time, so it might well happen. That said, the obvious worry is whether developers hoovering up that extra power will cause Apple to return to its usual battery woes.
Apple iPhone 6S / iPhone 7 other features
The iPhone 6S could get three innovative features if rumours are to be believed. First up there’s Force Touch. This is something we’ve seen on the Apple Watchand it allows the display to differentiate between different strength presses, responding in different ways.
According to Bloomberg a Force Touch iPhone 6S is already in production, whilesources speaking to Apple Insider and echoed by The Wall Street Journal andChina Times have previously talked about it, so it seems likely that the likely feature will make it across to the iPhone 6S (or possibly just the iPhone 6S Plus).
Next up we might see Apple ditch the home button, with new technology allowing the Touch ID fingerprint scanner to be integrated into the screen. Then there’s the Apple SIM, which first appeared in the iPad Air 2 and allows users to switch network without changing their SIM card. Network freedom would be great, but we’re not convinced that carriers will support it.
Apple iPhone 6C
However the iPhone 6C could prove more popular as it’s expected to have a 4.0-inch screen, making it not just cheaper but also smaller than this year’s other iPhones.
We may already have caught a glimpse of the iPhone 6C in red and while its existence still isn’t confirmed a number of rumours have pointed to one, so it’s looking likely, though analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is unconvinced.
If the iPhone 6C does exist it’s rumoured to have curved screen edges, a little like the iPhone 6, but with a design that has more in common with the iPhone 5S (or the 5C, since it looks to be plastic).
It’s unlikely that the iPhone 6C will share many specs with the iPhone 6S and indeed a report from DigiTimes suggests it will ship with an A8 processor (as found in the iPhone 6) and will also include Touch ID and NFC (for Apple Pay).
Apple iPhone 6S / iPhone 7 cost
There aren’t yet any rumours associated with the cost of the iPhone 6S, but we can take an educated guess that it won’t start at less than £539 / $649 / AU$999, since that’s what you’re looking at for an iPhone 6.
The only possible exception to that is the iPhone 6C, which likely will be a little cheaper if it exists. If anything though the iPhone 6S might be even more expensive, since it’s likely to be jam-packed with high-end tech.
1. A smaller screen
We know, we know. Everybody’s been going “Apple should totally make bigger phones”, and now we’re effectively saying “O noes! Apple your phones are too big!” But bear with us on this one.
For many people the iPhone 5S is the perfect size, big enough for apps but not so big you need a friend to help you carry it. If you tend to use your phone as a phone, bigger screens can be counter-productive, especially if you have small hands or just don’t like holding something enormous to the side of your head.
We think an iPhone 6S or iPhone 7 with the same screen size as the 5S would be a winner, not instead of the larger models, but alongside them. The good news isrumours suggest this is exactly what we’re going to get.
2. Wireless charging
Wireless charging remains one of the most frustrating technologies around, because while it’s here, it works and it feels like living in the future, it isn’t as widely supported as we’d like.
It’s rather like Google Wallet’s NFC payments in that respect: the idea’s sound but maybe it needs a fruit-themed firm from Cupertino to get on board before it’ll really take off. An iPhone 6S or iPhone 7 with wireless charging would be great, especially if the same charger worked for the Apple Watch too.
3. Lightning cables that don’t die
Some members of the Ephemeroptera family, such as mayflies, have a lifespan of just one day. That means they last approximately eleventy billion times longer than Lightning cables.
We know that spontaneously self-harming cables should be covered by the warranty, but if the iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 Lightning cables could be toughened up to save us those trips to the Genius Bar we’d be delighted. If Apple won’t give us wireless charging, it could at least eliminate the weakness in its chargers.
4. No more 16GB models
iOS 8 adoption has stalled, and we reckon it’s largely because people with 16GB iPhones don’t have enough free space for the 5.7GB over-the-air update and don’t want to use iTunes because, well, iTunes.
When your software updates are too big for your entry level products, your entry level products clearly don’t come with enough storage. How about starting at 32GB for the iPhone 6S and 64GB for the iPhone 7? We can’t store everything in iCloud, even when it’s working properly.
5. The same camera as the iPhone 6 Plus
The iPhone 6 Plus camera takes better photos than the iPhone 6 camera because it’s stabilised.
The necessary bits and pieces add a whopping 0.2mm to the thickness of the device, and we can promise Apple that the number of people who wouldn’t buy an iPhone 6S or iPhone 7 because it was 7.1mm instead of 6.9mm is as insignificant as that 0.2mm difference.
6. More RAM
The current iPhones are perfectly nippy, but Safari’s need to reload web pages when you’ve only got a few tabs open is a big clue that iOS would really like some more RAM to play with. The more stuff your phone does, such as tracking your health or communicating with your Apple watch, the more RAM it can use.
64-bit apps need more RAM than 32-bit apps anyway. Thankfully the iPad Air 2has 2GB of RAM and there’s speculation that the next iPhone will as well.
7. An alternative to super SuperSlipOMinium
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are made from a metal that appears to be SuperSlipOMinium, a substance so slippery that human hands simply can’t grip it. That’s great news for the screen replacement and third party protective case industries, but it’d be nice if holding our phones was easier than gripping a wet eel.
8. A higher resolution screen
The screens of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus deliver 326ppi and 401ppi respectively. That’s pretty good, but the higher density of rival devices such as the HTC One M9‘s 441ppi and the Samsung Galaxy S6‘s 577ppi is better still. If you like big phones and tend to hold them close, you’d want that kind of pixel density in your iPhone 6S or iPhone 7.
9. Better battery life
You could make this point in the wish list for any smartphone, of course, but while the iPhone 6 Plus is comfortably ahead of its rivals in the stamina stakes the iPhone 6 isn’t. That’s because the Plus has more room for a significantly bigger battery, but once again we’d be willing to trade slimness for power: a 4.7-inch iPhone 6S or iPhone 7 that was slightly thicker but lasted longer would be an easy sell.
The big problem with battery life, of course, is that all the other stuff on your wish list tends to affect it. Higher pixel densities can negatively affect battery life, as can using more RAM. Such changes don’t necessarily have a huge impact individually, but smartphones are very tricky balancing acts: you can have extraordinary performance, incredible displays and astonishing battery life, but you can’t have all three at the same time just yet.
10. Flexible displays
Never mind fighting against accusations of bendy phones. Apple should embrace them and make the iPhone 6S or iPhone 7 the bendiest smartphone the world has ever seen. We’re talking flexible screens printed on plastic instead of glass, iPhones that you can bend and twist and sit on to your heart’s content without any unpleasant consequences. If nothing else Apple should do it purely to annoy Samsung, who have been promising bendable smartphones for years.
We’re a long way from the launch of the new iPhone, people. If you can’t wait to find out what it’s going to look like, well, the internet never disappoints.
OK – it does if you’re looking for actual accurate visuals on the next iPhone, but the concept artists have already been grinding their digital looms into action to start showing us how they think the next version should look:
The TechRadar edition
Yes, we’ve turned our hand to designing our dream iPhone 7 – and we’re pretty chuffed with the outcome. Now all we need is for Apple to pay attention and make the damn thing!
Bring back the Nano!
A slightly older look to things, this concept by Jackson Chung uses new technology to bring the size of the iPhone back down.
With the touch sensitive panels on the side, the phone will enable a low power display to show message or app notifications without needing to waste energy firing up the battery-guzzling screen.
Plus the side controls allow for all new gaming abilities for your digits – that’s an idea we can get on board with.
Apparently Apple’s subtle curves got it all wrong. What we need is to drop the home button (but keep the space as an homage to the logo) and then make it grippably industrial again.
The always-popular edge to edge display is out in force once more, and Jan-Willem Reusink‘s idea is still all about the metal. But what about the radio signal eh? That’s one for Apple to work out, apparently.