Image credit: Apple
The base numbered iPhone series, the iPhone 4,5 and 6 have been major upgrades. The "s" iPhones, the iPhone 4s, 5s and presumably the 6s, are incremental improvements. Still, they have been and must continue to be compelling enough to get people to consider upgrading after just one year. What might Apple have up its sleeve this time?
When the iPhone 6 shipped, it came with some killer features. Notably, we got larger displays, better battery life and Apple Pay. (Admittedly, the iPhone 5s did bump us to 64-bit architecture. Going too far with this theme can get messy.)
The thing I want to explore here is what upgrades for the iPhone 6s would make it so compelling that customers would start seriously thinking about leaving their iPhone 6 in the past?
There are two approaches Apple could use that come to mind.
- A single major, killer feature like Apple Pay.
- An accumulation of features such that the whole is more than the sum of the parts.
Yet another angle is that under the hood hardware changes could enable advances in the user experience that would be compelling.
Currently, if Apple has some killer feature in mind that would make upgrading irresistible, no one knows what that might be. And so, at this point, all one can do is list possible incremental improvements.
- An A9 processor that would allow more flexibility and power in the user interface. For example, and just for example, inserting a blank page between pages of icons. Or when the icon wiggles, a popup badge of what page to drag it to instead of the error prone process of dragging it from page to page. Another might be a bonus page of apps that's auto-populated with the most often used apps. Making these iOS changes, and making them an iPhone 6s exclusive, might seem callous. However, recall that only the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus support Apple Pay in retail stores. So it's conceivable.
- A better rear facing camera with a light splitter and a sensor for each of R, G abd B. See: "Apple invents 3-sensor iPhone camera with light splitting cube for accurate colors, low-light performance." However, I'd expect no physical changes to the camera externally so that add-on lens kits would still work.
- A simpler Apple Pay. For example, log on with with Touch ID and be able to just wave the iPhone over a terminal, as with the Apple Watch, for a period of time—before re-authenticating. There are security issues with this. When the Apple Watch comes off the wrist, Apple Pay is immediately disabled. Still, Apple might figure something out.
- A Force Touch capability, as in the Apple Watch. This would lead to new usage modes in the user interface.
- More RAM. That is 2 GB instead of 1 GB. Along with an A9 processor, this would enable better exploitation of the 64-bit architecture and lead to better ideas for the iOS 9 User Interface and User Experience.
- A much improved, less error prone Siri, especially when it comes to distinguishing between similar names in the Contacts list.
- More color choices. The iPhone 5c colors were great, but the phone itself was just a dressed up iPhone 5 in plastic. Perhaps, Apple would take advantage of our thirst for new, classy colors in the 6s.
- Gorilla Glass 4. I think the best bet is on Corning, not on expensive, brittle sapphire. See: "How Corning won Apple back and built the strongest Gorilla Glass yet."
Most certainly, if Apple added multiple capabilities like these, a goodly percentage of iPhone 6 customers would be motivated to have the latest and greatest. And then, perhaps, there might be...
... one more thing.