Analyst says Apple may tear up its regular product launch schedule and go straight to the iPhone 7 this autumn
Apple is drawing up plans to skip a generation, launching the iPhone 7 a year ahead of its expected arrival, according to an industry analyst.
Under the company’s usual launch schedule, last year’s iPhone 6 would have been followed by an iPhone 6S this year. But Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst at KGI Securities, says the new phone will introduce significant new features – prompting Apple to break with convention and call it the iPhone 7.
According to Kuo, whom MacRumors says “has a respectable track record at reporting on Apple’s upcoming plans”, Apple will introduce Force Touch – a technology it developed for the Apple Watch – on this year’s new iPhone, and then update it in 2016.
Force Touch can differentiate between light taps on a touchscreen and longer, harder pressure. That would allow Apple and independent app developers to add new software features, in theory making the iPhone 7 more efficient to use.
It was introduced for the Apple Watch, whose small display puts a premium on efficient controls, but the system will apparently be adapted for use on the larger iPhone screen.
“We believe that iPhone’s Force Touch sensor doesn’t directly detect the pressure applied by fingers,” Kuo wrote in a note to investors. “Instead, it monitors the contact area on which the finger touches the screen to decide how big the pressure is.”
AppleInsider reported last month that Apple had planned to build Force Touch into the iPhone 6, but removed it after technical difficulties. It too predicted that the next model, which it called the 6S, would make use of the technology.
Now, however, Kuo suggests that the introduction of Force Touch “may be significant enough for Apple to call its next iPhone the iPhone 7”, MacRumors reports – a move that would consign the iPhone 6S to history before it was even unveiled.
Apple never comments on leaks and rumours before products are officially launched.
Reports emerged last week that Apple would launch a new small-screened handset, called the iPhone 6C, alongside the iPhone 6S this autumn. If the 6S is now off the agenda, where does that leave the iPhone 6C?
Since the debate essentially revolves around naming conventions, the four-inch device could just as easily be called the iPhone 7C.
But if last week’s reports are correct, and Apple is planning to launch a small iPhone 6C this autumn, that would suggest that this week’s claims about the demise of the iPhone 6S are mistaken. It seems very unlikely that Apple would launch two new handsets, one called the iPhone 7 and one called the iPhone 6C.
One other possibility is that both stories are correct, but that the source of information about the small iPhone predated the decision to change the name of the larger model. The DigiTimes story that broke the news last week described “a four-inch device currently being referred to as iPhone 6C”.
It is therefore possible that Apple is now referring to the device, if indeed it exists at all, as the iPhone 7C.