Apple’s next-generation iPhone, scheduled for unveiling on September 9.
What We Expect
about the next-generation iPhone have been trickling in for months. It’s expected that Apple will continue its 2014 trend, offering the 2015 iPhone in two separate sizes — one larger and one smaller.
We expect Apple will stick to its long running “S” naming scheme (which has been around since 2009), calling the new phones the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus. iPhone 6s Plus is a mouthful though, so it is possible that this might be the year that we get a new naming format. One analyst believes Apple might call its next-generation phone the “iPhone 7” due to the significance of the new changes being implemented, but it’s far too early in development to know for sure.
Because it’s an “S” year upgrade and because the iPhone was just redesigned, the next-generation version will focus on internal improvements rather than an updated external look. Screen sizes will remain at 4.7 and 5.5 inches, and Apple is not expected to introduce a new 4-inch model.
There may be a few exterior changes, though. There’s been a rumor that Apple will add a new color optionto its iPhone lineup in 2015 — pink (which may be rose gold). We’ve also seen two rumors suggesting Apple might opt to use the same 7000 series aluminum used in the Apple Watch in the next-generation iPhone. The aluminum is 60% stronger than standard aluminum but still lightweight.
In the past, “S” upgrades have brought features like Siri, Touch ID, new processors, and camera improvements, and we can expect to see many of the same updates with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. According to rumors, the new devices will gain a faster A9 processor, 2GB of RAM, a 12-megapixel camera with 4K video recording, an additional microphone to enhance voice quality, and potentially a new internal mechanical design to address some bending issues users experienced with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
The 2015 iPhones are also expected to gain the Force Touch feature first introduced with the Apple Watch, allowing for new gestures that incorporate pressure sensitivity, and improved Touch ID to make fingerprint recognition faster. A report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has also suggested Apple may use sapphire in a limited number of iPhone 6s Plus units, “if drop test issues can be resolved.”
Though the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are expected to retain the same design as iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the addition of Force Touch and 7000 series aluminum could slightly change the thickness and the dimensionsof the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus.
Multiple rumors and leaked schematics, and even what’s said to be a fully assembled “prototype” iPhone 6s, have suggested the iPhones could be slightly thicker, by approximately 0.2mm. Renderings of the devices and a video comparison of the iPhone 6 and 6s shell indicate the iPhone 6s may be 7.1mm thick instead of 6.9mm while the iPhone 6s Plus may be 7.3mm thick instead of 7.1mm. At 0.2mm, the difference between the iPhone 6 and 6s will be nearly undetectable and most cases and accessories designed for the iPhone 6 should continue to work with the iPhone 6s.
A materials analysis of the iPhone 6s shell has confirmed that Apple is indeed using a new alloy for the device. With 5 percent zinc, it’s in line with many 7000 Series aluminum alloys. A bend test on the shell suggests it’s much stronger and more resistant to bending, and in addition to using a new alloy, Apple has also added reinforcement to the areas around the home button and volume buttons of the device.
The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus will continue to offer features that have become integral to the iPhone, including NFC for Apple Pay, 802.11ac Wi-Fi capabilities, and LTE Advanced. The two new phones will likely be available in the same 16, 64, and 128GB storage options as the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
It’s an “S” upgrade year, Apple has asked its suppliers to produce a record-breaking 85 to 90 million unitsof the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus combined by the end of the year. The high number of orders suggests Apple is expecting significant demand for the two devices and hoping to avoid supply shortages, but the addition of Force Touch may impact initial production numbers.
Apple plans to unveil the iPhone at a media event in San Francisco scheduled for September 9. Pre-orders, if accepted, will follow on September 11, with an official launch likely happening on September 18.
The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are rumored to be in production as of late June, which means parts from the new devices are beginning to leak out. Leaked photos of the next-generation iPhone 6s casing confirm the device will look the same as the existing iPhone 6.
The rear shell appears is just slightly thicker than the iPhone 6 rear shell, retaining the same prominent antenna lines. All of the cutouts for the microphone, headphone jack, volume buttons, mute switch, power button, and camera are identical as well.
Though not evident in images, several rumors have now pointed towards a slight size increase for the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus to allow the devices to support Force Touch. The iPhone 6s may be 7.1mm instead of 6.9mm, while the iPhone 6s Plus may be 7.3mm instead of 7.1mm.
A detailed video comparison between the rear shell of the iPhone 6 and the rear shell of the iPhone 6s confirms the iPhone 6s shell is 0.2mm thicker than the comparable iPhone 6 component. The areas around the home button and the volume buttons are also notably thicker, as Apple has added reinforcement to the area to address “Bendgate” issues. Though the iPhone 6s shell is thicker and has additional material in weak areas, it is also two grams lighter, weighing in at 25 grams compared to 27 grams for the iPhone 6 shell.
A materials analysis of the iPhone 6s shell conducted by MacRumors and a “bend test” have confirmed that Apple is using a stronger, less bendable alloy for the iPhone 6s.
An image said to be of front panels for the iPhone 6 indicates the front of the device will be identical to the front of the iPhone 6.
Multiple photos of the full iPhone 6s display assembly have surfaced from several different sources. The images do not confirm Force Touch for the iPhone 6s, but the display assembly does differ from the display panel of the iPhone 6, suggesting there are indeed some internal changes to the display between generations.
In the video comparison below, an iPhone 6s display assembly is compared to the display assembly for an iPhone 6. In the iPhone 6s component, there’s a new connector in the top-left corner that may be designed for Force Touch. Other design changes include different flex connectors, Touch ID that’s integrated into the LCD and digitizer connector, and a glued-on protective back plate for the LCD.
Internally, the rear shell of the iPhone 6s has a different mounting structure that points towards a new logic board, which makes sense as the next-generation iPhone is rumored to include Force Touch, a new processor, and additional RAM.
A first look at the logic board for the device suggests it will use a Qualcomm MDM9635M LTE chip, which supports download speeds of up to 300 Mb/s. With the new chip, the next-generation iPhones will be capable of reaching faster LTE speeds twice as fast as the iPhone 6 where permitted by network performance.
In addition to the Qualcomm MDM96535 LTE baseband modem, the iPhone 6s will also feature Qualcomm’s WTR3925 radio frequency transceiver chip that pairs with the modem for better cellular network performance.
The addition of the WTR3925 chip is notable because in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, two wireless chips were required to perform the same function. With one less chip, power efficiency and performance are improved, and less space is taken up on the logic board.
iPhone 6s logic board (top) with zoom of RF transceiver section (bottom left) showing WTR3925 boxed in red and compared to corresponding portion of iPhone 6 logic board (bottom right) with WTR1625L boxed in blue and companion WFR1620 boxed in yellow
Additional logic board images suggest the next-generation iPhones will continue to be sold in 16, 64, and 128GB configurations, as a flash memory chip on the logic board in the photos has a 16GB capacity.
The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus may include a new NFC chip with a built-in secure element, potentially saving valuable space within the device.
Images of internal parts for the iPhone 6s also support claims that the devices will continue to use the same design introduced with the iPhone 6. Aside from the swap to a single flex cable instead of the dual flex cables that were used in the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6s flex cable and Lighting connector assembly remain largely unchanged.
Leaked camera ring images indicate the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus will likely continue to have a protruding rear-facing camera lens.
Recent renderings made to let case makers create accessories for the devices do not show the protruding camera lens on the iPhone 6s, suggesting there’s a possibility the device’s slight thickness increase could do away with the protruding camera, but it’s more likely that the renderings were simply unfinished or that the detail was overlooked. The rendering of the iPhone 6s Plus does show a protruding camera lens.
A few weeks ahead of the iPhone 6s launch, enough parts had been acquired by one of our sources to assemble a partially functioning iPhone that was able to boot up to the gear icon. The display and many of the parts are from the iPhone 6s, with the rest of the parts being sourced from an iPhone 6.
In the video below, the frankenstein iPhone is shown booting up to the gear screen before it’s opened up to display the layout of the iPhone 6s and 6 components within the rear shell. Some parts, like the rear camera are missing, but enough parts were present to power the display.
We’ve also seen images of the shell said to be for the iPhone 6s Plus. Though the casing looks largely the same on the inside, as with the iPhone 6s, it appears to include includes a “stronger” construction around specific areas to alleviate initial issues with bending.
Several rumors have suggested the new iPhone 6s could incorporate the “Force Touch” capabilities first introduced with the Apple Watch, which is able to distinguish between a light tap and a harder press, enabling new gestures. Apple appears to be slowly adding Force Touch to its products, and recently, the company introduced both a 12-inch Retina MacBook and an updated 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro with Force Touch trackpads.
One rumor has suggested Force Touch could be limited to the iPhone 6s Plus, which is not out of the realm of possibility as the iPhone 6 Plus does have features not included in the iPhone 6. For example, the iPhone 6 Plus is the only device with optical image stabilization. A second rumor has suggested that while that was originally the plan, Apple may now introduce Force Touch in both versions of the iPhone 6s.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that the next-generation iPhone will have a capacitive Force Touch sensor underneath the backlight. He claims that the hardware design of the Force Touch included in the iPhone may work differently than Force Touch in the Apple Watch and 12-inch Retina MacBook.
Instead of directly detecting the pressure applied by a finger on the screen, Force Touch hardware in the iPhone might monitor the contact area where a finger presses to determine how much pressure is being applied.
In the iPhone 6s, Force Touch is said to work similarly to the way it works in the Apple Watch and the new MacBook/Retina MacBook Pros, but it focuses primarily on “shortcut actions,” letting users perform tasks within apps more quickly.
In Maps, for example, using Force Touch on a point of interest will start turn-by-turn directions, cutting down on the steps involved in getting to a place you want to go. Force Touch will be used across iOS 9, both in apps and on the home screen. When force pressing, users will get a haptic response, as with the Apple Watch.
In June, Bloomberg reported the next-generation iPhones will indeed have Force Touch capabilities, confirming several previous rumors, including a report from The Wall Street Journal. With multiple reputable sources backing up the claim, it’s likely Force Touch is a sure thing for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.
Some rumors have hinted that the iPhone 6s could bring Apple’s “biggest camera jump ever” in the form of a possible two-lens system that would allow Apple to offer DSLR quality images in its iPhone, but other rumors have disagreed that Apple plans to introduce a two-lens system, sticking instead with the same 8-megapixel sensor found in previous iPhones.
Reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus will gain an upgraded 12-megapixel camera, and his predictions are often correct. Separate rumors have also reiterated the claims of a megapixel increase, with a recent report also pointing towards a 12-megapixel camera with the ability to record 4K video.
Apple recently acquired LinX Imaging, a camera technology company specializing in cameras for mobile devices that are able to produce DSLR-quality images by using multi-aperture arrays.
LinX technology also introduces much-improved low-light photo taking capabilities, and due to depth mapping, it can even created 3D images from still photographs. It’s possible LinX’s camera technology could be used in the next-generation iPhones.
BETTER TOUCH ID
Touch ID may also see some improvements. According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPhone 6s will feature an upgraded Touch ID module with reduced reading errors to enhance the Apple Pay experience.
NO SAPPHIRE DISPLAY
iPhone 6 rumors focused heavily on a potential sapphire display that did not materialize due to production issues, and there were some whispers suggesting Apple will use sapphire displays produced by Foxconn for the next-generation iPhone. No new sapphire deals have come to light, though, and it appears we will not see sapphire in the iPhone 6s.
4-INCH IPHONE 6C?
There have been conflicting rumors concerning the addition of a new 4-inch iPhone 6c to Apple’s 2015 lineup, but as we approach Apple’s media event it increasingly appears there will be no new 4-inch iPhone this year. Several early rumors coming out of the Asian supply chain suggested there would be a newly designed 4-inch iPhone “6c” released in 2015, but other reports called these rumors incorrect, including an April note from reliable KGI securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. For more on the iPhone 6c rumors, check out our iPhone 6c roundup.
For the past several years, Apple’s new iPhones have been released in September, and this year will be no exception, as Apple has invited media to an event in San Francisco on September 9. If Apple follow its typical pattern, iPhone pre-orders will begin on September 11 and the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus will officially launch on September 18.
Early production has begun on the iPhone 6 and 6s Plus, and production on components like the A9 chip and Force Touch display is well underway. Production is expected to ramp up in August, with the devices entering mass production late in the month ahead of their prospective September launch date.
Mass production on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus will reportedly begin a week or two later than Apple expected, but the company’s launch plans have not changed. Foxconn is said to be manufacturing 60 percent of iPhone 6s models, while Pegatron will manufacture 40 percent. Foxconn will be responsible for manufacturing all of the larger-screened iPhone 6s Plus models.
iPhone 6s (2015) Timeline