Why new iPhone will be a must-have up­grade

Sure, OLED prob­a­bly isn’t com­ing un­til next year, but Michael Si­mon be­lieves this year’s iPhone could be a sleeper hit.

iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS -

If you’ve hap­pened to peruse an Ap­ple ru­mour site lately, you might have no­ticed a dis­tinct lack of en­thu­si­asm sur­round­ing the next iPhone. It’s not the sort of thing we’re not used to see­ing; this be­ing an even year (or tick, if you pre­fer), early sum­mer is nor­mally the time when spec­u­la­tion starts heat­ing up, when 9to5Mac or KGI an­a­lyst Ming-Chi Kuo drops a juicy tid­bit for every­one to sali­vate over.

But it’s look­ing more and more like that’s not go­ing to hap­pen. Re­ports are say­ing that the iPhone 7 (if that’s even what it’s called) will break the cy­cle and of­fer up an­other S-type model, with most of the ma­jor im­prove­ments hap­pen­ing on the in­side rather than a flashy case change.

It’s a risk for sure – whole-num­ber iPhone mod­els have al­ways been judged on their phys­i­cal at­tributes, and an­other year of the iPhone 6 will cause some peo­ple to im­me­di­ately write it off. But that needn’t be the case. While this year’s iPhone might not have the usual buzz lead­ing up to its an­nounce­ment, there should be more than enough rea­sons to get en­tice iPhone 6 (and even some 6s) users to up­grade.

In­tel­li­gence in­side

Even if it’s true that the new iPhone is vir­tu­ally in­dis­tin­guish­able from the model it suc­ceeds, that doesn’t mean it won’t be a ma­jor step for­ward. While we can cer­tainly count on the req­ui­site im­prove­ments to the cam­era and chip, there al­most cer­tainly will be one or two ma­jor in­ter­nal enhancements that not only make it at­trac­tive to up­graders but also chart a new course for Ap­ple’s mo­bile strat­egy.

There are al­ready some clues out there. The iPad Pro in­tro­duced the Smart Con­nec­tor for quick key­board hookups, and there has been spec­u­la­tion that the iPhone Plus (or a new iPhone Pro) will adopt it, as well as the True Tone dis­play, which would be right at home on the iPhone. But the killer fea­ture will likely be some­thing we haven’t seen yet. The S mod­els have ac­tu­ally meant more to the

evo­lu­tion of the iPhone than the case re­designs – bring­ing ma­jor fea­tures such as Siri, Touch ID and 3D Touch that have dra­mat­i­cally changed the way we use our phones – and the new iPhone is sure to in­tro­duce some­thing en­tirely new.

Out with a bang

Even if the new iPhone looks like the one it re­places, make no mis­take: the iPhone’s re­boot starts this year. By break­ing the two-year cy­cle,

Ap­ple is mak­ing it clear that the iPhone is in the mid­dle of an un­prece­dented tran­si­tion pe­riod, one much more sig­nif­i­cant than the usual bi­en­nial one.

But while Ap­ple may be prep­ping for a mas­sive over­haul next year, that doesn’t mean this year’s iPhone is go­ing to be a throw­away. Quite the con­trary in fact–in all like­li­hood the 2016 model rep­re­sents the last of the but­ton-cen­tral iPhone, and Ap­ple isn’t about to let it go out with a whim­per. De­lay­ing the re­design doesn’t just align it with the 10th an­niver­sary, it also gives Ap­ple an op­por­tu­nity to give the “clas­sic” model a proper send-off, and that could in­clude a new 256GB Pro model, a Smart Con­nec­tor, or even Ap­ple Pen­cil sup­port. The reliance on an old de­sign lib­er­ates Ap­ple to in­no­vate from the in­side, and with an­other year to tweak and re­fine the iPhone 6, the new iPhone could very well be its most flaw­less re­lease.

The power of 10

We may have only got­ten small pre­view of iOS 10, but from what we’ve seen, it’s set to im­ple­ment some of the most ex­cit­ing changes since the launch of the App Store. It’s not just about ex­tra fea­tures and apps (though there are plenty of those). iOS 10 in­tro­duces some ex­cit­ing new ways to in­ter­act with apps that rely on 3D Touch, which just so hap­pens to only avail­able on the 6s. Ap­ple has said that rich no­ti­fi­ca­tions with be avail­able for de­vices with­out 3D Touch, but the ex­pe­ri­ence is in­fe­rior on de­vices with­out it, even the new iPhone SE. With an in­creased reliance on peek­ing and pop­ping, Ap­ple will surely im­prove how it op­er­ates, much like it has with each gen­er­a­tion of Touch ID.

And even though Ap­ple op­ti­mises iOS for older hard­ware, the newest phones al­ways run it best. With iOS 10, the per­for­mance gap will likely be greater, with a heavy dose of Siri and sub­tle an­i­ma­tions. Plus, there’s a ru­mour cir­cu­lat­ing about a touch-sen­si­tive home but­ton that would turn it into more of a tiny track pad with Force Touch-style hap­tic feed­back, a fea­ture that would fur­ther en­hance iOS 10’s stream­lined nav­i­ga­tion.

Hit the road

Even if the ru­mours are cor­rect about an­other S model, there looks to be two im­por­tant changes to the de­sign of this year’s iPhone that will have im­pli­ca­tions down the road: the mov­ing of the

un­sightly an­tenna bands to the sides of the de­vice and the re­moval of the head­phone jack.

While no one is go­ing to com­plain about a clean, uni­form back plate, peo­ple are al­ready up in arms over the re­moval of the iPhone’s uni­ver­sal mu­sic port. But if his­tory is any in­di­ca­tor, the re­sult will be ad­di­tion by sub­trac­tion. There may be short-term pain, but ev­ery time Ap­ple has re­tired a piece of legacy tech it has been to fast-for­ward the sup­port a su­pe­rior stan­dard (USB, Wi-Fi, and so on). In this in­stance, it’s likely Blue­tooth, and there is sure to be some ex­cit­ing ad­vance­ments in this space, whether it’s a new au­dio codec, faster charg­ing, or in­stant pair­ing. Let’s not for­get that Ap­ple owns one of the most pop­u­lar head­phone com­pa­nies on the planet, so a whole new lis­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence could be on the way.

Up, up­grade and away

When Ap­ple an­nounced the iPhone Up­grade Pro­gram along­side the 6s last year, it ef­fec­tively ended the car­rier lock-in. No longer were users lim­ited to the model on the cy­cle they orig­i­nally bought; after just 12 pay­ments (about half the price of the phone) you can choose to slide into a new model with­out hav­ing to pay the re­main­der of the bal­ance on the old one.

It’s a pretty nice deal if you want to be on the cut­ting edge of tech, but with the two-year cy­cle about to change, it of­fers even greater pro­tec­tion to whole-num­ber up­graders. Even if the 2016 model car­ries the S ban­ner for an­other 12 months, the iPhone Up­grade Pro­gram en­sures would-be iPhone 6 up­graders won’t have to skip the iPhone 7 of

fear of miss­ing out on the next big thing next year. So while ru­mours sites might be lack­ing in juicy de­tails now, the re­ports of the next iPhone be­ing a dis­ap­point­ment have been greatly ex­ag­ger­ated. You might as well start scop­ing out your place in line at your near­est Ap­ple Store now, be­cause you’re go­ing to want one.

iOS 10 makes 3D Touch such an es­sen­tial ges­ture that own­ers of the iPhone 6 and SE might be tempted to up­grade

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