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May 22, 2015

The iPhone 6S / 7 – All the rumours in one place

As with any new iPhone release, the rumours are already flying thick and fast: so to help you keep track of what to expect from Apple's upcoming release, we're collecting all the predictions in one place.

It can be tough to know what to believe, and there are always a few surprises whatever happens. We'll do our best to separate fact from fiction and list our sources where we can – and if you hear any juicy new gossip, don't forget to let us know!

  • An August release (Source: Press)
    iPhones have enjoyed September releases since 2011, but Chinese newspaper the United Daily News reckons that's all going to change this year. Citing anonymous supply chain sources, the paper says Apple has seen better-than-expected production yields, prompting it to bring the usual release date forward by a month. Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst with a good track record on iPhone releases, has said he believes this too.

Conclusion: Plausible, but we'd still bank on a September release.

  • A 12-megapixel camera (Source: Kevin Wang, IHS)
    Tech market experts IHS believe the next iPhone could come with a rare megapixel boost: 12MP, a noticeable improvement on the iPhone 6's 8MP – although that's not the whole story. IHS's Kevin Wang says the new phone will have smaller pixel sizes, which would give higher-resolution photos but actually take a performance hit in low-light situations. Daring Fireball's John Gruber also thinks the new camera could feature a two-lens system for DSLR quality.

Conclusion: Seems likely – Apple has to join the megapixel arms race sooner or later.

Update (15.07.15): Confirmed by leaked iOS 9 code

  • Force Touch (Source: Ming-Chi Kuo, KGI Securities)
    Force Touch hardware could ring in major changes to the way we control the iPhone. According to Kuo, the sensor doesn't directly detect pressure – instead it monitors the contact area where the finger touches the screen to detect how big the pressure is. A screen that knows how hard it's being pressed could open up some interesting new options for gesture control and games.

Conclusion: Also likely – the Apple Watch already uses this.

Update (15.07.15): Confirmed by Bloomberg

  • 2GB RAM (Source: Tech Specific Press)
    An extra gigabyte of RAM - on a par with the iPad Air 2 - would certainly make the next iPhone plenty speedy, if Taiwanese site Tech News's predictions are correct. Combined with a CPU upgrade (probably called the A9, possibly made by rival Samsung) this would leave users with plenty of room to run multiple apps at once without suffering performance loss.

Conclusion: Possible, but that much memory don't come cheap.

  • Pre-installed Apple SIM (Source: Apple Insider)
    Apple SIM, which debuted on the iPad Air 2, could be bundled with the next iPhone according to Apple Insider, citing a person familiar with the company's future plans. Such a move would be controversial with wireless carriers, as it allows users to sign up for mobile data plans directly from their Settings menu, and switch providers whenever they want without changing their SIM card.

Conclusion: Unlikely, but not impossible: Apple's never been afraid to rock the boat.

 

Update: 12.06.15

 

  • A September 25th release via Vodafone (Source: Mobile News)
    Just before Apple's 2015 Worldwide Developers Conference, Mobile News reported on a leaked email apparently sent to Vodafone's internal staff. The email said Vodafone will start taking pre-orders for a "new iPhone" on September 18th, ahead of a release a week later on September 25th. There were no other details on the new handset.

Conclusion: Much more likely than an August release.

  • iOS 9 (Source: WWDC)
    It's barely even rumour-worthy to suggest that the next iPhone will run iOS 9, the operating system previewed at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in June, but all the same: iOS 9 launches in "Fall" (following an unprecedented public beta in July), and so does the new iPhone. Apple suggested at WWDC that iOS 9 will be more energy-efficient than its predecessor, hopefully adding a few more hours of battery life.

Conclusion: Almost a dead cert.

  • Rose gold colour option (Source: AppleInsider)
    In a research note seen by AppleInsider, Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities opined that the new iPhone could come in a brand new colour option: rose gold, joining the existing lineup of gold, space grey and silver. The Apple Watch already comes in an ultra-luxe option made of real 18-carat rose gold, although it seems a bit of a stretch to imagine an iPhone that follows suit.

Conclusion: Possible, but if so it'll be a rose gold colour – not solid gold!

  • Slow motion and front facing LED flash (Source: Press)
    CODE hidden in the first developer preview of iOS 9 has revealed some MAJOR updates to the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus camera. This includes a front-facing LED flash and slow-motion video. Apple has also added support for a FaceTime camera with 1080p video capture. A step up on the current iPhone 6 offering that only has a 720p HD front-facing camera. Other additions in iOS 9 reportedly include the ability to take a panorama from the selfie camera.

Conclusion: The code never lies, we're pretty confident this is a certainty.

 

Update: 15.07.15

 

  • 16GB minimum storage (Source: 9to5Mac)
    It had been hoped that Apple might take pity on us all and bump up the baseline storage of the new iPhone to 32GB: with so many must-have apps out there nowadays, 16GB just doesn't leave much local space for music, not to mention 4K photos and videos. Sadly, these hopes were quashed when 9to5Mac released leaked photos of a prototype logic board, containing what looks suspiciously like a Toshiba 16GB flash memory chip. Of course, it could just be a prototype board - but there's no real reason to think an upgrade's on the cards either.

Conclusion: Very likely – but there's always iCloud for our storage woes.

  • Macbook-style battery (Source: iGyaan)
    Everybody wants more juice, but they're not prepared to sacrifice processor speed, display quality or compactness for it – putting poor phone designers in a bit of a pickle. But one solution, patented back in 2012, is a MacBook-style arrangement of terraced, contoured battery cells that would apparently boost battery capacity by 35% if applied to the flagship phone. The technology essentially fills every spare square millimetre inside the handset with more battery. Clever stuff, but will we see it in the next-generation iPhone?

Conclusion: Plausible – though Apple may instead be banking on the energy-efficient iOS 9.

  • Biggest launch ever (Wall Street Journal)
    Not tech-related, but still of interest to Apple fans – the new flagship could be the biggest launch in iPhone history, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that Apple has ordered between 85 and 90 million units of two new models to be produced by the end of the year. If true, this would put it well ahead of the 70 to 80 million-unit run of last year's iPhone 6, which was itself a record-setter. Apple's kind of well past the point of needing to tread carefully about new releases, and this news shows it's pretty confident the new phone will be a hit.

Conclusion: Likely.

  • iPhone 6-like case and dimensions (Source: 9to5Mac)
    The leaked photos obtained by 9to5Mac, which apparently show the new handset, suggest it'll have the exact same dimensions as the iPhone 6, so all your accessories and case protectors will fit snugly onto it too. In fact, there's very little separating it from the iPhone 6 at all as far as outward appearances go, and as TechRadar notes, the photos also put paid to the rumours of an HTC One M8-style dual-lens rear camera - there's no change in the case's hole configuration at all.

Conclusion: Likely – but the biggest changes (we hope) will be on the inside.

 

Update: 31.07.15

  • Series 7000 aluminium case (Source: Ming-Chi Kuo, KGI Securities)
    If KGI Securities is correct, the new iPhone will be stronger and harder than its predecessor – 60% harder, to be exact. The firm believes Apple will use Series 7000 aluminium, already employed in the Apple Watch, to beef up the ninth gen model (and hopefully avoid a repeat of last year's embarrassing Bendgate). That said, Jason Mick over at Daily Tech believes they might end up plumping for the slightly weaker, but more corrosion-resistant Grade 6013 alloy.

Conclusion: It'll almost certainly be made of sterner stuff than the 6 and 6 Plus. 

  • New front panel, same as the old panel (Source: Nowhereelse.fr)
    Photos recently leaked by a French tech site seem to confirm what most of us expected: the new phone's front panel will look pretty much the same as the last. However, this does seem to put the lid on suggestions that the forthcoming handset might be an iPhone 7, as opposed to a 6s – it's very unlikely Apple would start a whole new model series with little-to-no change in design.

Conclusion: Why not?

  • Wireless earpods (Source: Patent filing)
    Not necessarily an iPhone-specific piece of tech, but let's give it an airing anyway: two years ago, Apple filed a patent for wireless earbuds featuring a mouldable rubber exterior, which should help them to stay snugly in your ears with no need for annoying wires. They're still not on the shelves, and there's no particular reason to think Apple's been waiting for the iPhone 6S to unleash them on the world – but it's a possibility all the same.

Conclusion: Probably the tech press getting "new iPhone fever" again.

Update: 13.08.15

  • A September 9th announcement (Source: BuzzFeed News)
    Apple's announcements are always a big deal, and sources familiar with the company's plans told BuzzFeed this year's big reveal will fall on Wednesday, September 9th – the same day as last year. This should be the day we finally discover everything about not only the new iPhone, but also the latest iPad – possibly this wacky 12.9-inch iPad Pro we've heard about - and the successor to Apple TV. When approached by BuzzFeed, Apple's spokesperson Trudy Muller remained tight-lipped about the company's plans.

Conclusion: Likely – it fits the same timeframe as previous announcements.

  • iPhone 6c (Source: Evan Blass)
    As if one new iPhone wasn't enough, tech blogger Evan Blass reckons Apple's September announcement will include three. "Sounds like iPhone 6S, 6S Plus and 6c will all arrive concurrently", he tweeted, sending the Twittersphere into a frenzy. However, app marketing firm Fiksu thinks a new generation of the cheap, cheerful 5c – known for its plastic case and gaudy colours – is unlikely. The company says it's only seen "iphone8,1" and "iphone8,2" device identifiers in its dataset so far, corresponding to the 6S and 6S Plus respectively.

Conclusion: Seems far-fetched but Blass has a good track record – so who knows?

  • Goodbye plastic strips (Source: Patent filing)
    Proving no detail is too tiny to escape the notice of iPhone fanatics, a patent filed by Apple indicates the 6S could be waving goodbye to those unlovely plastic strips around the top and bottom of the handset. The plastic bands help to transmit radio waves to the iPhone's antenna, but the patent, which describes a technique for combining metal oxides to create a novel, metal-like composite, could mean a shiny all-metal handset for the first time. This would likely be applied to other Apple products such as Macbooks too.

Conclusion: Let's dare to dream and say it's a yes on this one.

Update: 04.09.15

  • 16GB minimum storage (Source: 9to5Mac)
    It had been hoped that Apple might take pity on us all and bump up the baseline storage of the new iPhone to 32GB: with so many must-have apps out there nowadays, 16GB just doesn't leave much local space for music, not to mention 4K photos and videos. Sadly, these hopes were quashed when 9to5Mac released leaked photos of a prototype logic board, containing what looks suspiciously like a Toshiba 16GB flash memory chip. Of course, it could just be a prototype board - but there's no real reason to think an upgrade's on the cards either.

Conclusion: Very likely – but there's always iCloud for our storage woes.

  • Macbook-style battery (Source: iGyaan)
    Everybody wants more juice, but they're not prepared to sacrifice processor speed, display quality or compactness for it – putting poor phone designers in a bit of a pickle. But one solution, patented back in 2012, is a MacBook-style arrangement of terraced, contoured battery cells that would apparently boost battery capacity by 35% if applied to the flagship phone. The technology essentially fills every spare square millimetre inside the handset with more battery. Clever stuff, but will we see it in the next-generation iPhone?

Conclusion: Plausible – though Apple may instead be banking on the energy-efficient iOS 9.

  • Biggest launch ever (Wall Street Journal)
    Not tech-related, but still of interest to Apple fans – the new flagship could be the biggest launch in iPhone history, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that Apple has ordered between 85 and 90 million units of two new models to be produced by the end of the year. If true, this would put it well ahead of the 70 to 80 million-unit run of last year's iPhone 6, which was itself a record-setter. Apple's kind of well past the point of needing to tread carefully about new releases, and this news shows it's pretty confident the new phone will be a hit.

Conclusion: Likely.

  • iPhone 6-like case and dimensions (Source: 9to5Mac)
    The leaked photos obtained by 9to5Mac, which apparently show the new handset, suggest it'll have the exact same dimensions as the iPhone 6, so all your accessories and case protectors will fit snugly onto it too. In fact, there's very little separating it from the iPhone 6 at all as far as outward appearances go, and as TechRadar notes, the photos also put paid to the rumours of an HTC One M8-style dual-lens rear camera - there's no change in the case's hole configuration at all.

Conclusion: Likely – but the biggest changes (we hope) will be on the inside.

 

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