Ready for a new iPhone yet? Well, you had better be. As if you were ever in any doubt, 2015 should be the year one of technology's most reliable biennials once again breaks cover, with the odd-year pretty much always when Apple decides to launch an S-version of the last year's iPhone model. You can bet your house on it. 2014 was the year of the iPhone 6, meaning we ought to be asked to upgrade to the iPhone 6S at the end of the summer. Let the iPhone 6S rumours flood in then.
It's going to be a bit more complicated a process than usual, though, thanks to Apple doubling the number of flagship iPhones available last year with the iPhone 6 and the larger iPhone 6 Plus both arriving in 2014. This presumably means we could see an iPhone 6S Plus, which is the sort of cumbersome model name usually reserved for the Android universe. Sorry folks, but brace yourselves -- that means you're going to have to put up with double the amount of iPhone 6S rumour posts than you may have anticipated.
From the iPhone 6S Rumours, What Will the Next Apple Phone Look Like?
Probably the same as the iPhone 6. The S versions of Apple's phones rarely deviate much from the previous year's external design templates, seeing as they're used mainly as a chance to enhance the internal tech to persuade another year's worth of valid contractual upgraders to take the plunge. That's very much the suggestion made by a case leak seen by 9to5Mac regarding the iPhone 6S internal specs:
From the looks of the leak, the external casing will remain identical to the iPhone 6, right down even to the antenna strips, which had previously been rumoured to be being removed. However, the "internal mounting structure" looks as if it has been tweaked, meaning their could be considerable changes to the logic boards inside, as well as making room for new "Force Touch" screen tech.
Other iPhone 6S rumours suggest there may be some tweaks made to the overall size, though, with some commenters suggesting a smaller iPhone 6S, akin to Sony's popular Xperia Compact models, might be on the way, to convert people still not convinced that biggest is best when it comes to screen size.
A possible 4-inch iPhone 6S has been rumoured to be both on and off Apple's ideas whiteboard this year, although the most recent quotes from suppliers suggest Apple's currently against the idea of an iPhone Mini with top-end specs -- lest it turn out to be an unwanted attempt at mainstream appeasement like the fairly unpopular iPhone 5C.
There was also a rumour that there might be a pink one. For the benefit of celebrities who populate the Daily Mail's sidebar.
What Screen Will the iPhone 6S Have?
One of the more comprehensive supply chain whispers regarding iPhone 6S suggests it may use the same Force Touch technology as seen in the Apple Watch, a layer of additional display hardware that can sense the difference between gentle taps and tough knocks. Tap lightly to open an app or bang it hard to open the options, that sort of thing. That's exactly the sort of half-improvement Apple saves for its S models.
Resolution upgrades appear to be off the list this time. The 1920x1080 resolution of the iPhone 6 Plus is the highest Apple's ever gone in terms of pixel count, and with the iPhone 6's 1334x750 output enough to be classified as "Retina" by Apple, we doubt there's any room for improvement there.
What OS Will the iPhone 6S Come With?
New iPhones tend to arrive with new versions of iOS to make binning older, non-upgradeable models even more appealing, with Apple expected to debut iOS 9 on this year's iPhone models.
iPhone 6S rumours say that iOS 9 is likely to be a modest update that focusses mainly on improving stability and performance, avoiding the sort of seismic design changes we've seen in recent years. The good news is that we could see iOS 9 shown off at Apple's June developer conference WWDC, meaning a first glimpse at the iPhone 6S's powers and abilities isn't that far off.
The launch of the Apple Watch has also seen the company exploring new font types, with 9to5 Mac reporting that Apple will replace Helvetica Neue with its new San Francisco typeface for all operating systems. That includes iOS, and by extension, iOS 9.
What are the iPhone 6S Specs Likely to Be?
Apple's been traditionally quite reluctant to engage in the RAM war that's seen some Android makers sticking 2GB, 3GB or even 4GB of working memory in their models. Can you believe the iPhone 6 has just 1GB? That could change with the iPhone 6S, with rumours from suppliers suggesting the phone's OS memory might get doubled up to 2GB.
If you believe the rumours, that'd mean more capable multitasking, better browser performance and generally being able to look at more of everything all at once on your phone, keeping your eyes and thoughts safely away from the real world.
We may perhaps see Apple switch to USB-C for its iPhone 6S connectivity, but that's maybe a little unlikely given that the world only recently binned all its accessories in the switch to Lightning connectors. Suppose it depends on whether Apple thinks it can make loads of money from selling Lightning-USB-C adaptors for £40 a pop or not.
That could change for the iPhone 6S, though, with Apple apparently engaging Chinese maker-of-everything Foxconn to mass produce the sapphire glass in quantities large enough that could let Apple stick one in every iPhone 6S. A tougher, more resilient screen would be a huge selling point in any new iPhone, given how droppable Jony Ive's slick tech masterpieces are -- but is it perhaps an innovation too big to waste on a S semi-update?
As for the internals, Samsung's been dropping hints that it may have a big customer for its cutting-edge 14 nanometre chipset, which it's believed to be making for Apple. This will no doubt arrive under the generic Apple A9 brand name, as openly telling people the iPhone 6S is powered by a Samsung chipset might not be the best idea for strengthening Apple's core values.
The camera, one of iPhone's key features over the years, may change too. The latest iPhone 6S rumours suggest we could see a dual-lens camera inside the iPhone 6S, and with Apple recently acquiring imaging startup LinX, there could be larger changes afoot too.
Interestingly, Apple Insider's most recent iPhone 6S rumours suggest that the handset may come with an Apple SIM card pre-installed. First introduced with the iPad Air 2, the Apple SIM allows owners to switch between mobile data providers through the device's settings page, meaning you can switch provider without having to talk to a network advisor. It also means that one SIM card could be used internationally, jumping to a local network as you travel from location to location. However, Apple had initially stated it was unlikely to offer Apple SIM cards in its phones, so we'll have to see how this plays out.
How Much Will the Next Apple Phone Cost, and When Will it be Released?
We'd expect the iPhone 6S to launch in September, as that's historically when Apple tends to whack out its new models. There's been talk that it may move to a twice-a-year mobile refresh cycle, though, seeing as that would let it upgrade specs more in keeping with the ever-more-powerful options of its rampant competition -- but Apple's probably not going to change something that's not broken.
And surely not even the most hardcore of Apple fan would be best pleased about having to upgrade every six months to make sure they've always got the newest model?
As for price, the S models tend to go on sale for figures around that of the previous year's models they replace and sit slightly above, with Apple usually dropping the cost of the older models to make room at the top for this year's option.
With the cheapest (and we use the word "cheap" here as we use the word "free" when talking about phone contracts) iPhone 6 starting at £539 for a 16GB unlocked model, expect the 6S to come in at a similar level, while the iPhone 6 itself drops to perhaps £460 in response to the fact it'll be an entire year old and therefore practically embarrassing to be seen with in late 2015.
Oh, what the hell, Apple's got a new Watch production line to pay for and probably some tax to give back to Ireland, so let's up that to an estimated £549 launch price for the SIM-free entry level 6S to make it worth everyone's while.
The most expensive iPhone 6 out there today is the iPhone 6 Plus with 128GB of onboard storage, which, if you're a footballer or music producer, can be yours for "just" £789. So let's say the iPhone 6S Plus will go for £799 if you want 128 gigs-of-bytes to put all your photos of sunsets and their favourite dinners on.
See you on September 11th, then.
This post was first published on May 8th 2015. It was updated on May 10th 2015 to include rumours surrounding the Apple SIM. It was updated once more on May 21st 2015 to include details of font refreshes for the iPhone 6S and iOS 9. Further updates were made on July 2nd, noting a leak from 9to5Mac showing an alleged iPhone 6S case.