The consequence of introducing an iPhone available in two different sizes, the 6 and the 6 plus, 11 months ago may be that Apple does away with its usual practice of releasing an upgraded 6S or 6S Plus and goes straight to an iPhone 7 release, but either way it seems likely that the official launch of the new phone will be in the week commencing 7th September, with the new phone hitting the shops 10 days later, as is Apple’s wont, on or around the 18th September.
What can we expect? Well there have been leaks galore over the previous few weeks which given the level of interest a new iPhone release always generates, (even now the company has diversified into watches, electric cars, payments and music streaming) is hardly surprising. The new iPhone is rumoured to be expensive, thanks to the use of 7000 series aluminium rather than 6000, still available in 2 different sizes (but not in a 4 inch version like all phones pre iPhone 6), not as bendy, and will incorporate “Force Touch”, like the Apple Watch.
Whilst Vodafone’s leaked internal memo is to blame for the release date becoming public knowledge, the biggest source of rumour and speculation comes from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who is said to have outlined 11 new features in a private meeting with investors, only for AppleInsider to obtain a copy of his claims.
Force Touch is the big one, that is, the ability of the touchscreen to differentiate between a “tap” and a “press”. Because of the smaller size of the Apple Watch the introduction of Force Touch was pretty much a no-brainer, but on the larger iPhone screens it is thought that it will be used to provide new shortcuts guiding users from screen to screen without having to tap and swipe this way and that.
Force Touch could help to streamline the Maps function; for example a press equals a pre—determined destination making it easier to quickly get directions to “home” without having to use the usual navigation functions.
It could be also be used to preview a webpage, download or add songs to a playlist, find an address or look up the definition of a word. In these respects it should cut out a lot of clutter and, perhaps most intriguingly, it may be possible to customize what functions Force Touch gives a user access to – which will make it harder than ever to use a friends phone, for better or for worse.
A dual lens camera described by Mac World as “DSLR-like” and a higher megapixel count (possibly as much as 12Mp) for the first time since the 4S makes for a high spec package, boosted by the front facing camera being upgraded to a 1080p resolution should see the new iPhone return to the top of the camera rankings. Overall the entire user experience is expected to improve dramatically, and the new camera may be the one feature that Apple CEO hangs his hat on when it comes to the grand unveiling.
iOS 9 and better battery life
The word is that a new A9 chipset will bring performance gains (up to 57% faster than the 6 and faster than the Airpad 2) but the real game-changer is the shift to 2GB of RAM, which should have happened a long time ago and explains why the leap from iPhone 5 to 6 was so minor in performance terms. Now it is finally here, and makes iOS9 an exciting prospect which will likely integrate with Force Touch to open up all kinds of newer, faster features and innovations which will doubtless persuade countless users that it is imperative to upgrade. Apple certainly thinks so, and is allegedly stockpiling a record 85-90 million let’s call them 6S and 6S Plus units ready to meet the expected avalanche of demand.
On the battery front, Apple’s chief designer Jony Ive revealed in a recent interview with the FT that he doesn’t view longer battery life as especially important, claiming the sacrifice in style to incorporate a better battery makes for a bigger more cumbersome product that is less “compelling”. So make sure you keep your new chargers handy, although expect iOS9 to incrementally improve battery life as it will almost every other feature.
Good news for the iPhone 6C, however, which will get an upgraded 1715mAh battery unit, an improvement on the 1510mAh currently installed in the 5c.
The best of the rest
Higher screen resolution is widely expected to keep up with the competition, notably Samsung, and 16GB will once again be the lowest storage spec on offer. Harder screens are also a possibility if Apple can resolve its issues with Sapphire.
There is a new colour in the offing, rose gold to match the Apple Watch edition, an extra microphone next to the speaker to enhance voice quality, and different materials used for the phone casings will mean the end of “bendygate”.
Finally, Touch ID is due for a significant improvement to help users get to grips more with Apple Pay, which is yet to catch fire but is likely to be heavily promoted over the coming months.
It almost feels like we are reaching the end of a cycle within the Tech industry; Google is no longer called Google, Windows 10 is rumoured to be the final iteration of the world’s most iconic operating system, Facebook is morphing into YouTube now that video advertising is king, and in general consumers are perhaps a tad more world weary than they ever have been before, waiting for the next big innovation, noting the stuttering, unreliable progress of IoT, wearables and Virtual Reality.
However – the iPhone might not feel revolutionary anymore, but it has become something far more powerful; indispensable, which is something that must put a smile on the faces of Apple’s bigwigs as they get ready to launch. They know that by 2020 4 billion people will own a smartphone and they will all be upgrading every 2 years, which is a phenomenon without parallel in the history of the tech industry.
The smartphone has become ubiquitous and indispensable and every aspect of our lives is now most easily controlled using a mobile device. As a species, we’ve crossed a frontier; we are exhausted by our best tool yet, but there is no turning back.
So launch-hardened we may be, but that won’t stop the next iPhone being the most successful ever. Until the next one is released, of course.