Apple’s iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus are still very recent launches in the limelight, with analysts reporting record sales figures for the last quarter of 2014. Despite having a new release to meddle with, fans of the company are already looking forward to what’s next: the iPhone 6C and iPhone 7. With an affordable option still not available for Apple fans, the iPhone 6C finds itself rumored as a very anticipated release. The iPhone 6C release date is already pegged for February 2016, even though that’s less than half a year after their last product launch. The iPhone 7 is allegedly going to be the flagship of 2016 and its release date is pegged for a more reasonable September 2016 event.
The iPhone 6C represents the nearest Apple future we can imagine, since it’s long overdue and fans have been asking for a more affordable way of getting into the Apple ecosystem than the flagship options, that cost upwards of $500. An iPhone 6C, as the C in its name would imply, represents the possible successor to the iPhone 5C and rumors about the handset have been omnipresent on the internet since Summer. Regardless of the fact that Apple has not yet confirmed that it would be launching an affordable iPhone model, people are already getting excited for the opportunity.
New reports about the iPhone 6C design, features and price have been circulated across the internet describing various different ideas of what the smartphone will bring to the market. The general consensus about the handset is that it’s going to be affordable, despite a new report stating that it would feature a metal construction. Apparently, Apple is going to focus on keeping the iPhone 6C as premium as possible, removing features like 3D touch instead to keep costs down and market the handset in a more affordable way.
The iPhone 6C specs and features that are being talked about currently pertain to a mid-range device made for fans of the compact smartphone. With a 4-inch Retina display that should fit in anybody’s pocket, USB Type C to facilitate easier and faster charging and connections, as well as a colorful metal design are all features expected to appear in the iPhone 6C. Although they should be taken with a grain of salt until Apple confirms them, the features do pertain to current trends as well as Apple’s usual choices for hardware and features in the affordable tier.
At the same time, the iPhone 6C should be less impressive from a visual standpoint, rumors saying that the iPhone 6 design will be its mantra, with colorful back panels added to the mix. Unlike the iPhone 7, which is expected to bring a complete overhaul of the design of the flagship, the iPhone 6C is said to be launched as a product completing the company’s 2014 and 2015 portfolio of devices. So far, the most prominent rumors suggest that the hardware within the iPhone 6C will be similar to that found in the iPhone 6, with an Apple A8 chipset, 1 GB RAM, 16 GB internal storage, the same camera setup from the iPhone 6 and even TouchID also said to be present. With a suggested price between $400 and $500, the iPhone 6C might have a significant role to play in the first half of next year, if it exists.
The problem with the iPhone 6C and all the specs people are talking about is that they tend to be contradictory. Although the handset should be the affordable device in Apple’s portfolio, a metal body and Touch ID sound like features that shouldn’t be included if the price point will be truly affordable at around $300. At this point, there is no information out there confirming that Apple ordered any hardware from its manufacturing partners that would belong in the iPhone 6C, apart from the 4-inch IPS displays. We’re excited about a possible affordable iPhone, but the sheer variety of information out there really casts doubt on whether this is going to be an actual product in 2016 or not. The very early release date in February is also suspicious enough.
The iPhone 7 seems like much more of a certainty than the iPhone 6C, seeing as a refresh to the flagship line-up next year is almost mandatory in the saturated smartphone market if Apple wants to make serious revenue increases in 2016 – not that it needs them. While rumors and reports about the iPhone 6C seem contradictory and very speculative, the same cannot be said for the iPhone 7, which is being discussed everywhere – even on CNN news. CNN aired a report last night about the headphone jack of the iPhone 7 or rather its non-existence. Last week, the rumor mill was focused around Apple renouncing the headphone jack in favor of a Lightning port, so we’ve pretty much ended up with a feature that is very likely to appear.
There are many, many rumors about the iPhone 7 and since we’re done with the ones about the iPhone 6C, let’s see which are the omnipresent ideas about the flagship. First, the Lightning port replacing the headphone jack has been a change long-coming. It was foreseen by many people, and rightfully so, since Apple opened up its Made for Licensing program last year, filing a patent for headphones using the Lightning port instead of an audio jack. The move came right at a time when Apple made it clear that one of the main ideals they’re chasing are thin iPhones and replacing the audio hack would contribute to that ideal by 1 whole milimeter. Although implementation of the new standard has not happened with the iPhone 6, as originally predicted, it’s bound to happen with the iPhone 7.
Replacing the audio jack with a Lightning port would facilitate the engineering of a much thinner phone with a better design, all the while keeping the Apple ecosystem airtight from outsiders. Adopting a strategy that would involve the company bundling Lightning port earphones with the iPhone 7 would be the most logical way to go about this, since implementing a new standard takes time and money from the company as well as the users. However, seeing as Apple is usually going after a lot of profit, I do expect the company to sell “high-end” Lightning headphones for a premium price, regardless of bundling earpods or not with the flagship.
Reports from Forbes and 9to5Mac suggest that Apple will also bundle converters and ask third-party manufacturers to do the same, which would greatly help with adoption rates for the new standard. While the primary motivations behind changing the standard are most likely financial, rather than design and practical function, the Lightning port would allow the company to implement new features thanks to the connection that carries power and data simultaneously, and opened up to developers, the standard could present a new baseline for audio quality and consumption. But mostly, Apple is going to make money out of it – and a lot of it. Considering third-party sales, licensing revenue and potential and Apple headphone sales, the company will make a lot of cash if the move is implemented in the iPhone 7.
Some say switching from an audio hack to a Lightning port on the iPhone 7 could make or break the company. The audio jack has been a standard for decades now, and while we understand that the company wants to change everything and encompass everything into its money-making ecosystem, audiophiles and calculated spenders won’t like it. While using the Lightning port for audio is not a bad idea in itself, it will pose complications for users who are going to experience a sort of “learning curve”, or rather frustration when having to use connectors, adaptors and buy new hardware just to be able to use the new iPhone 7. Apple hasn’t confirmed this though, so we can’t say for sure whether the switch will happen at the iPhone 7 launch in September or at the iPhone 8 launch in 2018.
Leaving the headphone situation behind, another rumor concerning the iPhone 7 design involves a slimmer and lighter body, with thinner bezels all around and no TouchID button. Instead of the TouchID home button, apparently the screen will hide biometric security on the entirety of the screen. A USB Type C port is most likely going to be replacing the Lightning port for charging, as Apple first introduced the new standard to its products with the last MacBook. Two new ports and a slight redesign of the iPhone 7 seem to be the most discussed aspects of the phone, since the handset is supposed to innovate in design and hardware. While the iPhone 6S line-up was more of an incremental update adding to the premium feel and performance of the family, the iPhone 7 is most likely going to be just as much of a jump as the iPhone 6 was coming from its predecessor.
Another theory suggests that the iPhone 7 design will go down the gaming road, enhancing TouchID with a pop-out joystick for games hidden under the sensor itself. This is interesting, but unlikely, seeing as Apple has shown tendencies this year of focus on the enterprise rather than the gaming market. The consumer market will continually be the main target of the iPhone 7, but a more prominent entry into the enterprise market is also expected. The enterprise approach is corroborated by rumors of fast charging and wireless charging features in the iPhone 7 and even in the iPhone 6C.
The iPhone 7 release is most likely going to see two different sizes of the device being launched, if not three. A 5-inch and a 5.5-inch handset are likely to make an appearance, but the smaller iPhone 6C or even iPhone 7C could also end up being showcased. It would be quite the interesting development to pass the supposed iPhone 6C release date without a launch and seeing three variants of the iPhone 7 being launched in September 2016. It does sound like a better strategy, to give people time to still be excited about the iPhone 6S and even buy it despite going over-budget in their excitement. It’s an awkward truth to accept, but usually that’s the strategy companies employ, especially with expensive hardware.
Although there’s little to be known about the iPhone 7, one particular rumor sounds rather possible: waterproof certification. Apple fans have been asking for a waterproof option for a long time, and although demand has decreased since even Samsung canned the feature from its flagship consumer Galaxy S6 line-up, it is a possibility. The Xperia M4 Aqua and Xperia Z5 are praised for their waterproof feature and present quite the interest for the Android crowd. Getting in on that market, which is just as expensive as an iPhone, would be beneficial to Apple because they could satisfy a demand that is not really being met nowadays. However, a waterproof iPhone 7 is most definitely going to turn the already high price of the handset into almost a luxurious item, like the Apple Watch. With current waterproof options costing upwards of $500, excepting the Xperia M4 Aqua, it might not be that much of a stretch. Moreover, the recent patents that came to light about a buoyant, airbag-equipped iPhone 7 also propose an interesting new angle. However, these won’t be implemented until 2018, according to analysts.
The only feature that we can pretty much guarantee to be showcased in the iPhone 7 is multipoint 3D touch. Seeing as 3D touch is an inherently Apple feature (even though others use it, too), it’s logical to think that Apple is going to strive to improve the feature. With that in mind, more practical uses and tools should be added via the improved 3D touch interface, adding to the overall appeal of the iPhone 7, especially to those who have become accustomed to 3D touch and have learnt to love it.
In the end, the iPhone 6C and iPhone 7 are nothing but an enigma. Take all the available info about them with a grain of salt until Apple comes forward with a confirmation. Although we expect both handsets to satisfy new and old needs at the same time, cross new pricing lines and add to the user experience, we’re not expecting them to be the perfect smartphones. Features are bound to be missing, but others are meant for improvement over the years.