It's that time of the year again; Apple sent out invitations to an event at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, slated for a 10 a.m. PT start time on September 9. CNET's live coverage will start an hour earlier.
The invite's tease was: "Hey Siri, give us a hint." But everyone knows this will be the announcement for the next generation of iPhones, probably called the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. Here's what you can expect to these sequels to 2014's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (shown here).
Note: This story was originally published August 28, 2015, and was updated with some additional information on September 8.
As with all "S" model years, expect a near identical exterior design for the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. That includes the same basic dimensions, screen sizes (4.7 and 5.5 inches) and button placement as the 2014 iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (shown here).
According to Bloomberg, sources report that Samsung will produce the main chip in the next iPhone model, which will presumably be the A9 (this will be the ninth iPhone line to date). Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests that the A9 processor, paired with 2GB of RAM -- double the existing 1GB -- will deliver a considerable bump in power and speed compared to the iPhone 6. In July, the DigiTimes reported that Samsung and TSMC had begun mass producing the A9 chips -- enough to power 80 or 90 million iPhones.
Also in July, 9to5mac.com reported that the next iPhone will contain a Qualcomm processor, the 9X35 Gobi chip, which will offer "significant performance improvements," potentially doubling the current generation's LTE network speeds.
Apple's April 2015 acquisition of Israeli firm LinX Computational has fueled rumors of significant enhancements in camera technology coming with the next iPhone. Specific predictions include multiple apertures that can provide dSLR-quality photos packed into a tinier design that could ultimately allow for an even thinner handset. While some of those improvements may not appear until 2016's iPhone 7 or beyond, 9to5mac reports that the iPhone 6S and/or 6S Plus should offer 12-megapixel back cameras (up from 8-megapixels) and 4K video recording.
KGI Securities has reported that the next iPhone will use the same 7000 series aluminum used in the Apple Watch Sport, and that the phone could be fractionally wider and taller than the iPhone 6 to account for the stronger aluminum design. A video posted by Unbox Therapy also suggested that the next iPhone case could be significantly stronger (and less bendy) than the previous model. On July 4, Engadget Japan published schematics showing a new design that was nominally larger than the current iPhone 6.
The company could also choose to incorporate Force Touch to the iPhone's screen, adding pressure sensitivity to its interactive bag of tricks. This particular rumor continues to attract fervent attention online, with multiple sources reporting confirmation from "people with knowledge." That noted, the prospect of ForceTouch on the iPhone was neither confirmed nor mentioned by Apple during the blitz of iOS 9 information released at WWDC.
Unfortunately, one thing that may not change is how much storage the entry-level iPhone 6S will have. Weeks ago, leaked images on 9to5mac purporting to show the new iPhone's logic board reveal a new Toshiba flash memory module that, according the site, has 16GB capacity. In recent days, additional credible leaks show 16GB iPhone 6S packaging as well. So it appears that Apple did not take our plea to kill off the 16GB model to heart, even as premium Android models almost all start at 32GB now.
Currently only available for the Apple Watch, the next iPhone could have an option for a rose-gold-colored model. That's in addition to the existing space gray (black), white and gold options. So says 9to5mac.
Apple unveiled iOS 9 at its Worldwide Developers Conference on June 8. Though much of the news was peripheral to the iPhone -- an update to Siri, enhancements to Apple Pay, new map functionality and a new News app -- there were also promises made about improvements in animation and scrolling on all iOS devices, and extended battery life on the iPhone. Apple says the operating system's new low-power mode could extend battery life by 3 hours on some devices. The new iPhones will ship with iOS 9, but existing late-model iPhone (plus iPad and iPod Touch) owners will get iOS 9 as a free upgrade as well -- probably by September 17.
At this year's World Wide Developers' Conference, Apple announced News, a new app for iOS 9 designed to aggregate various news sources into one easy-to-read interface. It sounds like it's intended as a "Flipboard killer," and it will replace the current Newsstand folder, which will go away.
Apple's inclusion of a USB Type-C port on its new 12-inch MacBook prompted some to muse that it could replace the Lightning port on the next iPhone -- but we'd deem that as all but impossible. (Maybe next year.) Other possibilities could be support for inductive charging -- a feature found on the Apple Watch and an increasing number of other non-Apple smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge.
It's a safe bet that pricing will be the same as last year -- but with a caveat. The pricing shown here is for the phones "with a 2-year contract." Those contracts have largely gone away for US wireless carriers -- so add $450 to each of the prices shown above for the true cost.
If Apple follows its tradition release timeline, we expect pre-orders for the new iPhones to start on Friday, September 11 at Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and the Apple online store.
If that's the case, you'll be able to pick one up in stores on the following Friday, September 18.