The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have been with us long enough now that we’re getting a little tired of them. Fickle, we know. But the mooted specs and features of the new iPhone (probably called the iPhone 6S, with the iPhone 7 coming in 2016) are starting to trickle out.
Latest update: We could see an iPhone 6c alongside the iPhone 6s. Plus Apple seems to be working hard on its batteries and Force Touch might be exclusive to the iPhone 6s Plus.
We’ve also rounded up 10 things we think should appear in the next iteration for Apple to finally have the all-conquering handset it’s been trying to create for so many years.
What would you like to see in the iPhone 6S and iPhone 7? Do let us know in the comments. But before we get to what we want to see, here are the best (and most believable) of the rumors on offer so far:
Cut to the chase
What is it? Apple’s next flagship
When is it out? Very likely September 2015 but some believe as soon as spring
What will it cost? A lot, at least £539 / $649 / AU$869
News and rumors
The iPhone 6s could get two innovative features if rumors are to be believed. First up 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.
The other rumored feature takes the form of ‘Force Touch’. This is something we’ll first see on the Apple Watch and it allows the display to differentiate between different strength presses, responding in different ways.
According to sources speaking to Apple Insider and echoed by The Wall Street Journal, the feature will make it across to the iPhone 6s (or possibly just the iPhone 6s Plus), though the same sources have squashed rumors of a two-lens camera system, claiming it would require a radical redesign of the chassis, which isn’t on the cards.
Those rumors were started by 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.
We could even speculate what that camera might be, as Sony has just announced a 21MP stacked CMOS sensor which might fit the bill, especially as Sony currently supplies Apple with camera modules.
It’s designed to be better able to focus on fast moving objects and includes HDR for 4K video and high-resolution photos, and while Apple might go for a lower-spec sensor (8MP to 21MP is a massive jump) it’s interesting to see what features are being made available. But don’t hold your breath now the original rumor has had doubt cast on it.
There’s even an outside chance that the camera might include a lens swap feature, making it even more like a DSLR, as earlier in the year an Apple patent for swappable lenses was uncovered, though patents don’t always turn into products.
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 its an upgrade which has now been rumored a second 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.
The good news there is that Apple is seemingly going on a hiring spree for battery-related positions, so hopefully some new blood at the company will help keep the iPhone 6s juiced up.
Reports suggest Apple will publicly try out its next operating system through a beta system later this summer. According to reports from 9to5mac Apple will let users sign up to a beta programme for iOS 9 with access coming to those public testers at some point during the summer.
If the rumors are to be believed it’ll then launch on the iPhone 7 but will likely only supply bug fixes and won’t introduce any major new features.
It’s expected support for Apple’s new streaming music service will be included in the iOS 8.4 update but that isn’t confirmed just yet so Apple may wait until iOS 7 and bring it in as a major new feature. The music streaming service comes after Apple purchased Beats last year and is expected to take on the tough competition of Spotify.
iPhone 7 design
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.
Not only would it be a risky move to bring something so untested to market but Apple has just redesigned its handsets with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, so in all likelihood this year’s models will stick to roughly the same design, albeit with beefed up innards, such as a faster A9 processor.
While the design probably won’t change much, the screen might, as rumors suggest that Apple has teamed with Foxconn to produce sapphire displays for the iPhone 6S.
Such screens were rumored 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.
There are also rumors that Apple might release another 4-inch phone this year and it may even have curved screen edges in line with the iPhone 6, so while larger sizes are likely to remain an option it seems the Cupertino company might not have abandoned its smaller handsets.
An iPhone 6C as we’re calling it is looking ever more likely, with a handful of reports and rumors now pointing to one and we may even have seen it in the flesh.
We might also be seeing pink, as other rumors suggest Apple will be adding a pink option to its flagship line-up.
Apple iPhone 6S / iPhone 7 release date
We can take an educated guess that the iPhone 6S will launch in September 2015 as previous models have launched in that same month.
On the other hand, a source speaking to StableyTimes claims that Apple might bring the release of the iPhone 6S forward to coincide with the Apple Watch in the spring. Let’s be clear though: that will not happen. Now the Watch is coming in April, there’s no way we’re going to see another iPhone at the same time.
It wouldn’t be the first time Apple’s made a quick turnaround with new hardware, as it did similar with the iPad 4, so in the extremely unlikely event it does reboot the iPhone in April it would be a very minor change, like a boost in capacity at the bottom end from 16GB to 32GB.
Samsung is reportedly already producing the A9 processor that is expected to be included in the iPhone 6S, so it’s possible that it could arrive before September. Either way we’ve still got a while to wait, so in the meantime, here’s what we want to see:
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 counterproductive, 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.
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 next year’s 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.