informa
/
Commentary

iPhone 6s: Bigger Upgrade Than Previously Thought?

Apple is set to show off the iPhone 6s on Sept. 9. This year's device may pack a heavier punch than previous "S" models.
iPhone 6s: 9 Features On Our Wishlist
iPhone 6s: 9 Features On Our Wishlist
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Apple has invited media to attend an event in San Francisco on Sept. 9. The event will herald new iPhones, a new Apple TV, and potentially new iPads. Apple typically updates its iPhone designs every other year in a "tick-tock" pattern. The "tick" years represent full redesigns, while the "tock" years focus on improving specs and performance.

However, this year's "tock" might strike harder than in year's past.

Apple has long favored creating iPhones in pairs. In 2008, it released the iPhone 3G and followed it in 2009 with the 3GS. The iPhone 4 arrived in 2010, and the iPhone 4s landed in 2011. Then there was the iPhone 5 in 2012, and the 5s in 2013. Last year, Apple gave us the iPhone 6, and this year is expected to show off the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.

All the "S" models were modest upgrades to the previous year's original design. For example, the 3GS had a better camera and more storage than the 3G, while the 4s made another camera improvement and improved the processor and data speeds compared to the iPhone 4. The big change in the 5s was the fingerprint reader, which the iPhone 5 lacked.

Here we are in another "S" year and already there is plenty of chatter about what to expect in the iPhone 6s.

The design of the smaller iPhone 6s and larger 6s Plus is to remain unchanged from a visual perspective when placed side-by-side with last year's iPhones. Apple is believed to be using stronger aluminum, however, to resolve the "bendgate" problems that surfaced with the iPhone 6 Plus last year.

Apple is expected to give the camera a significant boost. iPhones have had 8-megapixel cameras since the iPhone 4s.

This year, the camera may jump to 12-megapixels and bring with it 4K video capture at 240 frames per second. Android handsets have long offered 4K video capture. What's not clear is if Apple will add optical image stabilization (OIS) to the iPhone 6s. Last year's 6 Plus included OIS, but the smaller 6 did not. Given that most competing handsets now include OIS, it's time the 6s had it, too.

It would be really nice if Apple upgraded the FaceTime camera. People the world over have taken to including themselves in photos. The iPhone's selfie cam is decent, but could be better with respect to aperture and angle of view. There's some talk that Apple may surprise us by adding a flash on the front.

As usual, Apple will jump to a next-generation processor called the A9. What's not clear is how much storage the iPhone 6s will have. The entry-level iPhone 6 has just 16GB of internal storage, which is meager at best. It leaves hardly any room for movies, music, photos, and apps. Most competing flagship smartphones have at least 32GB of storage, and many also support expandable memory cards. Apple needs to increase the storage for the least-expensive model.

One of the more important updates to the 6s/6s Plus will be Force Touch technology.

[Read about handy iPhone apps you should download.]

Force Touch lets the Apple Watch and MacBook differentiate between gentle taps and more forceful presses. Much of what makes Force Touch work will be buried in iOS 9, the new operating system set to debut alongside the new iPhones. Developers have so far been mum on what they're doing to add Force Touch to their apps, but the technology could herald significant change in how we interact with iPhones moving forward.

These may not seem like hefty updates, but taken together they add up to a more compelling update than previous "S" generations. What's on your iPhone 6s wish list?

Apple is also believed to have a new Apple TV on deck for its Sept. 9 event. It's less clear when Apple may show off new iPads. For a long time, the iPad Pro was expected to arrive during the Sept. 9 event, but now it looks as though the product won't ship until the fourth quarter. Apple may wait until October to reveal it.