Apple isn't expected to show off new iPhones until September, but we are beginning to see a clearer picture of what the devices may have to offer. The iPhones are believed likely to adopt some of the technology seen in the Apple Watch, including the Force Touch function.
If history has taught us anything it is that Apple's 2015 smartphones will be called the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. In years past, S-branded iPhones were generally minor upgrades to the previous generation.
This year, however, the new iPhones may be a more significant improvement.
Apple debuted Force Touch with the Apple Watch. It improves the sensitivity of the touchscreen so the display can register various amounts of pressure and not just simple taps. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says Force Touch will be baked into the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus come fall. Kuo goes so far as to say Force Touch may be the defining feature of Apple's unannounced handsets.
The key to Force Touch will be apps.
As long as Apple allows developers to tap into -- sorry, pun intended -- Force Touch, it could lead to some compelling changes in the way we interact with smartphones. This would require Apple to rework iOS to some extent. Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference is set to kick off in just a few weeks, but if Force Touch is on tap -- sorry, again -- for iOS 9, Apple probably won't say anything about it just yet. Knowing how Cupertino thinks, it might reserve those details until it shows off the new phones later in the year.
Force Touch won't be the only new feature headed to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.
Both phones will be powered by the A9 processor. Reports earlier this year indicated that Samsung -- Apple's chief competitor -- will help manufacture the chip. Apple will improve the RAM to 2 GB of LPDDR4, which is a generational leap in terms of speed. The camera sensor will be improved from 8 megapixels to 12 megapixels. (The current 8-MP sensor does an amazing job.)
The new smartphones will sport the same 4.7- and 5.5-inch displays, but could see an upgrade to sapphire. Apple was widely expected to use sapphire for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but yield problems led Apple to switch to Gorilla Glass at the last moment. Sapphire is effectively scratch-proof -- and it's wearing well so far on the Apple Watch. Don't expect to see improved display resolutions.
The chassis will probably see an upgrade, too, in order to prevent a situation similar to "Bendgate." (People claimed the iPhone 6 Plus was prone to bending.) The aluminum frame will be improved to Series 7000 aluminum, which is more rigid than the aluminum in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
Apple may add the Rose Gold color, which is currently an option for the Apple Watch.
Last, Kuo suggests Apple will improve the performance of Touch ID in order to compel more people to use Apple Pay.
Wondering how accurate these predictions are? Kuo has a good track record so far.
Apple will show off some features of iOS 9 during the WWDC keynote on June 8. The new iPhones won't show up until mid-September.
[Did you miss any of the InformationWeek Conference in Las Vegas last month? Don't worry: We have you covered. Check out what our speakers had to say and see tweets from the show. Let's keep the conversation going.]