We won’t know exactly what Apple has in store for its next iPhone until September.
Even though that’s still a few months away, various leaks and notes from analysts have painted a picture of what we might be able to expect from the successor to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
Based on what we’ve heard, it sounds as if the changes will focus more on enhancing features like the camera rather than redesigning the phone’s appearance.
The next iPhone may be so significantly different from the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus that Apple could call it the iPhone 7, not the iPhone 6s. At least that's what Ming Chi-Kuo of KGI Securities believes, which he wrote in a note earlier this month. Other reports, however, have referred to the next iPhone as the iPhone 6s, and many still expect Apple to continue its trend of waiting two years before the giving the iPhone a new number.
Apple may release its next iPhone on Sept. 25, according to blog Mobile News, which claims to have obtained an internal staff email sent to employees of British carrier Vodafone. The email reportedly outlined launch plans for the next iPhone, saying that the phone would be released on Sept. 25 with preorders starting on Sept. 18.
Apple will almost certainly launch the iPhone 7 in September, as it has done with new iPhones in the past, but there's no telling exactly when. Even if Mobile News' email is legitimate, there's no evidence to prove that Vodafone has any knowledge of Apple's iPhone launch plans.
Apple may use the same Series 7000 aluminium found on the Apple Watch Sport's casing for its next iPhone, according to Kuo. This is said to be 60% more durable than the aluminium Apple currently uses for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
Kuo also said he believes the next iPhone will be 0.15 millimetres taller and 0.2 millimetres thicker than the iPhone 6, but it's unclear why. The extra thickness could be due to the new aluminium Apple reportedly plans to use, if Kuo's predictions turn out to be correct.
The Taiwanese publication Digitimes reports that Apple is planning to release three iPhones: a 4.7-inch phone, a 5.5-inch model, and a new 4-inch iPhone. It's unclear how this 4-inch phone would fit into Apple's iPhone lineup and how it would be branded. Digitimes also has a mixed track record, so this report may be bogus.
Chinese publication The Economic Daily News also reported that Apple would release a smaller 4-inch version of its next flagship phone.
Apple is reportedly testing a new pink colour option for iPhones, according to The Wall Street Journal. There's no indication that this will ever come to the market, but if Apple is actually experimenting with a new colour, we could see it on the next iPhone.
One of the more plausible rumours seems to be that the next iPhone's camera will get a big improvement. Blogger John Gruber said he heard that the next iPhone would have the 'biggest camera jump ever.' Apple also recently acquired the Israel-based camera company LinX for an estimated $US20 million, according to The Wall Street Journal. LinX's technology could reduce noise and help the iPhone take clearer photos in low-light conditions, among other improvements, according to an analyst note from Macquarie Research.
Kuo also believes the next iPhone will come with a 12-megapixel main camera, which would be a significant step up from the current iPhone's 8-megapixel camera. But there's more compelling evidence about Apple's future plans for the iPhone's camera hidden within the code for iOS 9. Developer Hazma Sood discovered code that suggests the front-facing camera on the next iPhone will support 1080p video capture, 24- frames-per-second slow motion shooting, a panoramic mode, and a flash.
In fact, LinX's technology may even allow you to add 3D effects to photos taken with the iPhone, according to the note from Macquarie. Specifically, the note says it could enable '3D object modelling' and that the next iPhone could come with a 'duo camera.' This essentially means the phone would come with more than one camera sensor so it could capture depth-of-field images. This sounds a lot like the camera on the HTC One M8.
The next iPhone will come with Apple's Force Touch technology that made its debut in the new MacBook and Apple Watch, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The Force Touch technology in the so-called iPhone 7 will be different from what is in Apple's other recent products, Kuo said. He doesn't think it will detect pressure like the sensor in the new MacBook's trackpad, but rather it will sense 'contact area on which the finger touches the screen to decide how big the pressure is.'
It sounds like the Force Touch screen will allow for various shortcuts in iOS, according to 9to5Mac's Mark Gurman, who claims to have spoken with a source that used a prototype from Apple. For example, you'd be able to do things like dropping pins in Apple Maps and scrolling through the iPhone media player by applying more pressure to the screen instead of swiping.
Apple usually upgrades the processor in its iPhones, so we will most likely see some performance improvements in the next iPhone. We have yet to hear any rumours or insight on exactly what types of enhancements to expect, but Bloomberg reported that Apple has chosen Samsung over Taiwan Semiconductor to produce its new iPhone chips.