iPhone 6S or 7: launch ‘set for 9 September’ – The Week UK
Apple is planning to reveal its new smartphone – likely to be called either the iPhone 6S or iPhone 7 – on Wednesday 9 September, according to reports that have been seized on by Apple enthusiasts.
And today a significant leak set out the way in which Apple plans to implement what is likely to be the most significant new feature – Force Touch.
Force Touch for iPhone
For several months Apple has been expected to furnish the iPhone 6S or 7 with Force Touch, a new input method already available on the Apple Watch and MacBook laptop. But now we know precisely how it will work on the smartphone, if today’s leak turns out to be correct.
Force Touch makes use of a modified touchscreen which can differentiate between a light tap and a longer, harder touch, and react differently to each. For example, on the Apple Watch, a light tap on an email opens it up to be read, while more sustained pressure takes the user directly to the reply screen.
On the iPhone 6S or 7, says 9to5Mac, Force Touch will let you skip long lists of menus.
“A user can look up a point of interest in the Maps application, and then Force Touch on the destination to immediately begin turn-by-turn directions, the website says. “Currently, if a user wants to start navigating to a destination, she must search for the point of interest, click the navigation logo on the map view, then click another button to actually start navigating. In this case, the Force Touch gesture will skip two steps.”
In other contexts, Force Touch will bring up menus containing further options, for example a firm press on the phone icon on the home screen will let you “shortcut directly to the voicemail tab”.
iPhone 6S or 7 launch date
Late last week, details emerged about when Apple would unveil the 2015 iPhone upgrade.
“The company intends to hold a special event the week of Sept. 7, with Wednesday the 9th being the most likely date,” reports John Paczkowski of Buzzfeed.
Tech news site MacRumors says Paczkowski “has provided reliable information on event dates in the past”, but a Wednesday launch for the iPhone 7 would break with recent Apple tradition. For the past two years, Apple has held each of its annual iPhone events on a Tuesday, with the new models going on sale on the Friday of the following week. For that reason, The Independent suggests that Tuesday 8 September is the likely launch date.
Doubt also surrounds the extent of the changes planned for Apple’s flagship phone – as well as the new model’s name.
Most commentators say the company will keep to its usual product launch schedule, in which it follows an all-new product one year with minor upgrades the next.
After last year’s iPhone 6, which brought in a new look, larger screens and significant new features, major changes this autumn would come as a surprise. Therefore, they say, the 2015 model will be called the iPhone 6S.
But Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst at KGI Securities with contacts inside Apple’s Chinese and Taiwanese supply chains, has said that this year’s upgrade will be substantial enough for Apple to justify breaking with tradition and calling the new phone the iPhone 7.
Apple itself never comments on new products until their official launch, but the company’s new operating system, iOS 9, reveals many of the developments we can expect in the iPhone 6S or iPhone 7.
“Updates and features include Siri becoming more proactive in recognising your behaviour, longer battery life and improvements to existing apps including Maps and Notes,” says the Daily Telegraph. “The new News app aims to provide an experience akin to reading a magazine, with big glossy visuals.”
One expert scouring the code of iOS 9, which has already been released to app developers, has found evidence to suggest that the new iPhone will have a much-improved front-facing camera.
Hamsa Sood says the iPhone 7’s “selfie-cam” will be capable of shooting slow-motion, 240 frame-per-second video, along with 1080p video at normal speed, and panoramic still images. Other leaked information is yet to back up this theory, but Sood has been a reliable source of advance information about previous Apple launches.
Most analysts are agreed that Apple will have to increase the resolution of the rear-facing camera to at least 12 megapixels in order to keep pace with rivals, and some have suggested that Apple is planning an even more significant camera upgrade (see below).
More iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 rumours
There’s nothing like a new Apple product to fire up the rumour mill. Here’s what tech insiders think we can expect from the iPhone 7:
More powerful processor: Back in January a Taiwanese tech news website reported that sources in the Apple supply chain had revealed that the iPhone 6S would have 2GB of Ram, twice what’s available in the iPhone 6. It seemed like a credible claim given that Apple often upgrades processor chips the year after it releases an all-new iPhone design, and it has since been backed up by similar reports from other sources. AppleInsider reported last week that its own inside man has confirmed that the new phones will go on sale with a 2GB chip. “Additional Ram would allow iOS to leave background tasks and tabs in Safari open for longer without a need to reload or refresh,” it says. “But additional RAM can also come with costs to battery life, as memory constantly consumes power.”
Sapphire crystal display: Persistent rumours and reports suggested that the last iPhone would benefit from a sapphire crystal screen coating – and immensely strong glass-like substance that is highly scratch resistance – but in the end it never materialised. Reports suggest that Apple and its suppliers had trouble manufacturing sufficient quantities to equip the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but already the rumour mill is chattering about the prospect of a sapphire crystal iPhone 7. That may be wishful thinking, but the company did use sapphire crystal for the Apple Watch, which launched in the spring – and has been keen to transfer technology from the watch to its smartphones.
Dual-lens camera: In February rumours emerged that the camera could be in line for a substantial overhaul. John Gruber of Daring Fireball, a respected source of Apple information, said he has heard that the iPhone 7 might get “the biggest camera jump ever”. He added: “I don’t even know what sense this makes, but I’ve heard that it’s some kind of weird two-lens system where the back camera uses two lenses and it somehow takes it up into DSLR quality imagery.” That vague suggestion has now been largely discredited, as adding a second lens to the rear of the camera would require a thorough redesign of the handset chassis, and that’s unlikely so soon after the all-new iPhone 6 was released (see below). Nevertheless, much speculation has been devoted to the camera, and changes are still expected.
Few high-profile design changes: Having come up with an all-new aesthetic for the iPhone 6, Apple is unlikely to alter the overall look and feel of the handset for the next update. Until recently, the assumption was that the iPhone 6S or iPhone 7 would look all but identical to its predecessor, but the latest reports suggest that the new phone may be slightly thicker, taller and wider (see above). Most analysts still believe that there will be no dramatic redesign, with most physical changes imperceptible at first glance.
New aluminium frame: Although the design is unlikely to change substantially, it may be built from a new material. According to Taiwan’s Economic Daily News, Apple is planning to make use of the “Series 7000” aluminium alloy it developed for the Apple Watch on its smartphones too. The metal is “designed to be 60 per cent stronger than most aluminum, and one-third the density of stainless steel, while still maintaining a light weight”, MacRumors says.
Higher-resolution screen: When Apple launched the iPhone 4 in June 2010, it said the “Retina” screen provided the maximum resolution perceptible to the human eye. Nevertheless, it stepped up resolution for the iPhone 6 Plus, boosting pixels per inch from 326 to 401 for its supersized smartphone and describing the new screen as a “Retina HD Display”. The 4.7-inch model retained the 326ppi screen, but reports from China quoting supply chain sources suggest that the smaller version of the iPhone 7 may get a screen that’s slightly larger and significantly sharper. “The iPhone 7 could very well sport a five-inch screen with 400ppi resolution,” says IT Pro. Changing the size of the screen would be an unusual step for the first upgrade following a major redesign, but it would tally with the claim that the frame of the new handset will also be slightly larger than the one it replaces.
Four-inch iPhone 6C or 7C: The rumour that refuses to die… Perhaps more in hope than expectation, a range of Apple-watchers have been predicting that the company will supplement its iPhone range with a high-spec four-inch-screen iPhone mini. Apple used to specialise in small-screened phones, but since the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, fans of four-inchers have had to make do with the 5S which is beginning to show its age. Leaks suggest that Apple will keep building a four-inch phone, but it remains unclear whether it will be an all-new iPhone Mini or an updated version of the 5S.
A trade-in scheme for non iPhone users: iPhone owners are already able to trade in old phones for the latest models, and now Apple is planning to extend the offer to owners of smartphones made by other companies. “Apple will soon introduce a new recycling and trade-in program that will accept non-Apple smartphones, notably including Android and BlackBerry devices, in exchange for gift cards to be used toward the purchase of new iPhones,” reports 9to5Mac.com. The program is designed to encourage more people to make the switch to Apple, in the hope of developing long-term customers.
Video: what we know about the new iPhone
iPhone 7: ‘ugly’ plastic strips to remain on new iPhone
When Apple unveils its next smartphone – likely to be called either the iPhone 6S or iPhone 7 – it will retain one of its predecessor’s least-loved features: the translucent plastic strips on the rear of the handset.
Recent reports had suggested that Apple was working to replace the plastic tramlines, which let radio waves penetrate the iPhone’s aluminium casing. TechRadar said in June that the company was working on a way to ditch the “ugly plastic bands”.
In a patent filing unearthed by the website, Apple described a material made from a blend of metal oxides that “looks and feels like metal, but which would still allow radio frequencies to pass through”. The result, TechRadar says, would be an iPhone 7 that “could retain a premium all-metal look and feel without compromising wireless strength”.
However, the technology will not be ready in time for the new iPhone, which is expected to launch next month.
The iPhone 6S or iPhone 7 – opinion is still undecided about the name – will “almost certainly get a better camera”, says Business Insider, “but everything else from the form factor to the protruding rear camera lens to those unsightly antenna breaks along the back side of the phone are expected to remain the same”.
iPhone 7 ‘could kill off the Sim card’
Apple is working with other smartphone makers to render the plastic Sim card obsolete, replacing it with a built-in electronic Sim – which could mean that iPhone 7 users will be able to switch easily between mobile networks.
The iPad already makes use of a built-in Sim in British and American models, but industry analysts have previously suggested that mobile networks would resist their introduction on smartphones. The iPhone 6, like its rivals, uses a standard removable Sim.
Plastic Sim cards tie phone users to a particular network, making it harder for them to switch call providers even when they are out of contract.
Now, though, the Financial Times says that Orange, Vodafone and 3 Mobile are among the networks expected to support the electronic Sim cards. US network AT&T and Germany’s Deutsche Telekom are also said to have signed up to the international agreement.
“The GSMA, the industry association which represents mobile operators worldwide, is close to announcing an agreement to produce a standardised embedded Sim for consumer devices that would include the smartphone makers,” the paper reports.
It says that the first smartphones with electronic Sim cards are likely to go on sale in a little over a year – that is, in the next iPhone upgrade but one. If Apple sticks to its usual naming conventions, that would mean that this year’s iPhone 6S would have a physical Sim, and the new e-Sim would be ready in time for next year’s iPhone 7.
Even after the introduction of electronic Sim cards, it is likely that phone networks will impose restrictions on how easily, and how often, customers can switch networks – either with tighter contracts or technical restrictions. But a built-in Sim would shift the balance of power in favour of the phone manufacturer.
“The e-SIM would make it technically possible for customers to sign up for, switch and transfer plans from the handset itself,” says the Sydney Morning Herald. “If regulators approved, this could allow device-makers like Apple to decide which providers and plans could be used on its phones.
“It remains to be seen how keen local telcos will be to support an Apple SIM in an iPhone given how much control they stand to lose, although if Apple eventually plans to do away with physical SIM cards with its 2016 iPhone 7 telcos will have little choice.”