Unless and until Apple drops the mic, decides they've done everything that can be done in the phone space, and walks off to start a hot tub business, there will be new iPhones. And, if Apple sticks to the same pattern as previous years, that means we'll likely see an iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus as soon as September. Here's what you need to know about them!
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Note: We'll continue to update this FAQ as new and better information becomes available so bookmark it and come back often!
Why 'iPhone 6s' and 'iPhone 6s Plus'?
Since 2008, Apple has followed what's called a "tick-tock" update cycle. One year the number is incremented and the design refreshed, the next an 's' is added and the internals and features get a boost. 3G and 3GS, 4 and 4s, and 5 and 5s. So, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus is the presumption for this year.
Apple can change the pattern at any time, of course, and product names are ultimately marketing decisions. We need to call them something for now, so iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus it is!
When will Apple release the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus?
For the last several years Apple has announced new iPhones sometime in the middle of the second week of September and shipped them at the end of the third week of September.
Again, Apple can change that at any time, but shipping the fall means being available for the all-important holiday shopping season.
But a bunch of other companies have already announced new phones!
Sure, but that happens every year. No movie wants to come out the same weekend as Star Wars, and no phone wants to be announce around the same time as the iPhone. Our advice, if you're looking for a new phone, is to wait and see what Apple—and everyone else—announces and then, come September, see what suits you best.
Will iOS 9 be coming with the new iPhones?
Yup! Apple typically releases the new version of iOS right before the new phones, so we should see both within a couple days of each other, and iOS 9 will be installed on every new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus that ships.
What size would the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus be?
Every "s" model to date has kept a nearly identical casing to the year before. If Apple keeps the same design for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, that would mean we'd get the same 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens.
What about a new-ish 4-inch iPhone?
There have been rumors of an iPhone 6c, which would be an iPhone 5c updated with iPhone 6-class specs. There are reasons why an iPhone 6c might make sense. Ultimately, however, Apple will decide how many new iPhones the company can optimally make and market at once, and what sizes best suit their customer base.
Will the new iPhones have a faster processor?
Since the iPhone 4 in 2010, every new iPhone has come with a next-generation Apple A-series processor. Since last year was the Apple A8 system-on-a-chip (SoC), this year would likely be the Apple A9 (SoC).
New chipsets usually provide more speed and better power efficiency, as well as improved image signal processing (ISP) for photography.
So, a better camera?
Apple loves cameras and they've also been a big focus of every event since the iPhone 4. Cameras are also among the most important features for iPhone owners, so there's no chance that'll stop any time soon.
In addition to an improved image signal processor (ISP) from the Apple A9, a higher resolution sensor certainly makes the kind of sense that does.
What about new colors?
With the iPod touch line, Apple has shown they can anodize pretty much any color they want. The iPhone 5s came with a new champagne gold finish option so, rumor has it, the company might use the iPhone 6s to introduce rose gold to better match the Apple Watch lineup.
Arguably gold was as big, if not bigger, a driver for the iPhone 5s than Touch ID. We're a superficial consumer base with little below the surface than more consumer surface. Having a new color, and one that shows off that you have a new iPhone, could become an important part of "s" years.
Any chance of Force Touch?
Apple seldom locks features to only one product. Force Touch was first introduced on the Apple Watch but actually shipped first on the new MacBook. That shows it can be implemented on a wide range of products. So, again, why stop at just a few?
Also, the iPhone 3GS got speed, the iPhone 4s got Siri, the iPhone 5s got a fingerprint sensor, so why not give the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus some pressure sensitivity by way of Force Touch and the Taptic Engine? On the Apple Watch, Force Click is used to bring up context-sensitive menu options. On the Mac, to simulate a trackpad click—or multiple depths of click—and to allow for adaptable drawing.
A lot of that would be great on the iPhone.
What about USB-C?
Apple only just adopted Lightning with the iPhone 5 in 2012. The company's previous interconnect, the 30-pin Dock, lasted 10 years. The Lightning-like USB-C does have standardization on its side, though Lightning itself is still more flexible.
Again, Apple can and will do whatever the company thinks is best for the business and for customers.
Apple already has wireless charging on the Watch. Qualcomm has new chipsets that can do wireless charging through metal. Whether or not Apple could fit the charging tech inside the same casing, and whether or not Apple considers the technology ready for the iPhone, however, remain to be seen.
Better radios, as usual! Wireless chipsets are always getting smaller and faster, and getting better support for different implementations and bands around the world.
So, how can I sell my old phone to help afford it?
Oh. So. Many. Ways.
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.
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