iPhone 6S to be substantial upgrade, analyst predicts

The next iPhone will pack in new features such as Force Touch, but also beef up the memory, processor and camera, says KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

The iPhone 6S could more than just an incremental upgrade, says one analyst. CNET

Apple may be developing the next iPhone as more than just an incremental upgrade.

Likely to be launched in September as per Apple's usual time frame, the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus (assuming Apple continues with its usual naming convention) will start off by offering a Force Touch feature -- which would monitor the area on which the finger touches the screen to decide how much pressure you're applying. Apple would then tempt buyers with even more specs, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in an investors note caught by G for Games and other sources.

Apple itself has not officially named its next iPhone or stated its intentions for the device.

Apple typically rolls out a major upgrade to its iPhone lineup every other year, and then fills in the gap with a more incremental upgrade during the in-between years. So the iPhone 5 came out in 2012, followed by the iPhone 5S in 2013 and the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in 2015. The "S" models usually enhance the processor and a few other components and add one or two new features but not much more. However, Apple continues to face tough competition from the likes of Samsung's Galaxy S series and Android phones in general, which often sport major upgrades on an annual basis. Apple's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus regained lost market share and customers by offering bigger screens. But if Apple wants to continue that trend, then the iPhone 6S needs to be more than just an incremental upgrade, which could happen, according to Kuo's crystal ball.

The Force Touch is the No. 1 selling feature predicted by Kuo for the iPhone 6S. Already adopted by the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display and the 12-inch MacBook , this technology makes the trackpad pressure-sensitive, so it responds differently based how you press the surface.

But there's much more, says Kuo. The 6S will be equipped with Apple's A9 processor, which will provide more power and speed than the current A8 chipset used in the iPhone 6 line. Apple will bump up the RAM to 2GB from the current 1GB. The rear camera will increase its megapixel count to 12 from 8.

The phone's Touch ID fingerprint sensor will also be more accurate. The body used for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will use stronger material. And the iPhone 6S will even offer the Rose Gold color option presently available for the Apple Watch.

Anything else? Yep. But here's one we've heard before.

The iPhone 6S may finally offer the sapphire display that had been rumored for the iPhone 6, but only if certain production issues can be resolved. Rumors flew last year that Apple would adopt a sapphire crystal display cover glass for the new iPhone. Sapphire is considered by some to be tougher and harder to scratch than the Gorilla Glass displays currently used for the iPhone. But sapphire crystal is difficult and expensive to cut and manufacture. Apple's sapphire supplier, GT Advanced, also went bankrupt. So the option for an iPhone with a sapphire display never happened.

This year, a sapphire screen may appear, but only on a "limited" iPhone 6s Plus edition, Kuo said, according to G for Games.

Packaged together, those are a lot of significant enhancements for this year's iPhone lineup. Kuo usually has a good track record of forecasting changes to Apple products. Which of his latest predictions will actually come true? We'll have to wait until September to find out.

A spokesperson for Apple declined CNET's request for comment.