The yearly iPhone refresh is a fact of life and one thing you can count on just as certainly as a new iPhone is the rumour mill spinning out of control leading up to its unveiling. The iPhone 6s is no exception.
To help make sense of the chaotic hearsay, we’ll collect every rumour that surfaces about the iPhone 6s, from its reported specs to its estimated release date, and everything in between – as well as try to discern the plausibility of the rumour. If tradition holds, expect Apple to officially announce its next flagship phone in early September. It’s going to be a long, rumour-packed winter…
What’s the latest?
The rumour: For only the second time in history, Apple will be making its iPhone thicker. This week 9to5Mac uncovered some CAD drawings that show both upcoming iPhone models being 0.2mm thicker than their current counterparts. (Trivia hounds may remember that the iPhone 3G was 0.02in thicker than the original iPhone.) If these drawings are true, the iPhone 6s will be 7.1mm thick, as opposed to the current model’s 6.9mm. Similarly, the iPhone 6s Plus goes from from 7.1mm to 7.3mm.
Plausible? 9to5Mac speculates that the increase could be Apple’s response to ‘bendgate’ or to give the new iPhones a larger battery. A more sturdy iPhone with longer battery life? Sound like very good enough reasons for the additional thickness. Engadget Japan also backs this rumour, adding that the 0.2mm are needed to accomodate for Force Touch (read more about that rumour below).
Bye-bye Home button?
The rumour: Your next iPhone may not have a Home button. Wait, what? 9to5Mac has a report, sourced from the “variably reliable DigiTimes”, claiming that Apple is developing single-chip solutions to integrate touch and display drivers.
What does that mean? That the display could have a ‘whole plane design’ that could theroretically eliminate the Home button. Instead, you’d touch a sensor embedded in the screen, which could recognise not just that you’re tapping it, but your unique fingerprint too, similar to what Touch ID does now.
Plausible? Any technology that can make the iPhone thinner and with a more beautiful display is something Apple would pursue. This could be a step toward edge-to-edge displays that don’t need such a large ‘chin’ to accomodate the Home button, which would mean Apple could make the overall phone smaller without sacrificing the nice, large screen sizes we’ve come to love. But DigiTimes isn’t always accurate, and this kind of advancement could take a while to happen.
We doubt the next iPhone would ditch the Touch ID button – which is integral to Apple Pay, after all – even if it brings in a Force Touch feature like Apple has rolled out for the Apple Watch and new Force Touch trackpads.
May the Force Touch be with us?
The rumour: Following the introduction of Force Touch and haptic feedback on the Apple Watch and some MacBook trackpads, the iPhone 6s will be next to add these features. Force Touch on the iPhone 6s will allow you to drop a pin in Maps, create an event in Calendar, and perform other quick functions by simply pressing more deeply on the screen.
Plausible? In a recent article, The Wall Street Journal wrote that Force Touch is “expected” in the new devices, and this week 9to5Mac found some photos showing a small rectangle cut-out in the new iPhone display, possibly to make room for the taptic engine. Considering how quickly Force Touch was incorporated into MacBook trackpads, Apple seems very eager to bring this one feature consistently to all its products.
What will it be called?
The rumour: Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities predicted that Apple will call its next iPhone the iPhone 7, rather than 6s, because it will have Force Touch, which is a big enough deal to merit a whole number, over the more incremental ‘better chip and camera’ upgrades we usually get in ‘S’ years.
Plausible? We don’t entirely agree with that, since Touch ID debuted with the iPhone 5s, and Siri with the iPhone 4s, and those both proved pretty huge. In the past, Apple’s changed the number when it’s redesigned the case – iPhone 4, iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 all had different enclosures than the versions that preceded them.
What will it look like?
The rumour: Besides the additional 2mm of thickness, don’t expect the iPhone 6s to look much different. 9to5Mac reportedly obtained images of the iPhone 6s metal casing, suggesting that it will be a near replica of the current iPhone, down to those unsightly antenna lines.
Plausible? Highly plausible! The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, after all, came with entirely new form-factors: bigger screens, thinner bodies, even a relocated Sleep button. Apple typically only redesigns every other iPhone, then uses the same case for next year’s ‘S’ version. So if that pattern holds, the next iPhone won’t look so different on the outside, even while it packs new features and a faster chip.
The rest of the rumours
We haven’t heard specific rumours about these things just yet. But they’re always big questions Apple has to answer with any new iPhone, so we’ve got our ears to the ground…
New colour? A recent Wall Street Journal report suggested that Apple was looking to bring a fourth colour option to the iPhone 6s in addition to the current silver, gold and space grey. A research note obtained by AppleInsider suggested that the new colour would be rose gold to match the Apple Watch. Meanwhile others have suggested that the new colour could be a far more daring pink.
Longer-lasting battery life? This is just a guess, but it’ll probably be the same. Apple specified increased battery life as a feature of iOS 9, which means the company doesn’t necessarily have to jam in a larger battery to quote the same battery life estimates as the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
Better camera? It wouldn’t be a new iPhone without an improved camera. Apple aquired LinX, an Israeli camera technology company, earlier this year. LinX developed impossibly small, multi-lens cameras for smartphones, tablets and ultrabooks, so that’s a perfect fit for Apple’s product lines too. According to 9to5Mac, the iOS 9 developer betas hint at a front-facing camera that supports 1080p video at 240fps and flash – none of which appear in the front-facing FaceTime camera in current devices. As for the rear-facing camera, PhoneArena.com claims to have found documents suggesting it will be getting an update as well, with a 12-megapixel sensor and 4K video recording capabilities.
Lightning or USB-C? Lightning is pretty new. Keeping it around lets Apple continue to license it, whereas USB-C is an open standard. We applaud its arrival on the Mac – growing pains notwithstanding – but it may not be time yet for another big switch on the iOS side.
Smaller-screened iPhone mini What about going back down? Apple no longer sells any phones with a screen size lower than 4in. But we think a section of Apple’s customer base would go gaga for a return to the 3.5in screen of the first several iPhones. Model it after the original 2007 iPhone – which already bears an uncanny resemblance to the Apple Watch – call it the iPhone Classic, but give it all new internals to run iOS 9. It worked for the iPod mini, and we think it could work here, as long as Apple keeps the larger-screened versions too.