Latest update:The iPhone 6S could be made from stronger materials and rumors of a DSLR-quality camera refuse to die.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have been with us long enough now that we're getting a little tired of them. Fickle, we know. But the mooted specs and features of the new iPhone (probably called the iPhone 6S, with the iPhone 7 coming in 2016) are starting to trickle out.
Current highlights include Force Touch, the Apple SIM, a DSLR-quality camera and double the RAM of the iPhone 6, so you're free to start getting excited.
We've also rounded up 10 things we think should appear in the next iteration for Apple to finally have the all-conquering handset it's been trying to create for so many years.
What would you like to see in the iPhone 6S and iPhone 7? Do let us know in the comments. But before we get to what we want to see, here are the best (and most believable) of the rumors on offer so far:
Cut to the chase
What is it? Apple's next flagship
When is it out? Very likely September 2015
What will it cost? A lot, at least £539 / $649 / AU$999
Apple iPhone 6S / iPhone 7 release date
We can take an educated guess that the iPhone 6S will launch in September 2015, as previous models have launched in that same month.
On the other hand, a source speaking to StableyTimes claims that Apple might bring the release of the iPhone 6S forward to coincide with the Apple Watch in the spring. Let's be clear though: that will not happen. Now the Watch is coming in April there's no way we're going to see another iPhone at the same time.
Samsung is reportedly already producing the A9 processor that is expected to be included in the iPhone 6S though, so it's possible that it could arrive before September.
Apple iPhone 6S / iPhone 7 design
The last thing Apple wants is a bendy phone, so it's not entirely surprising that we're hearing rumors the iPhone 6S / iPhone 7 might feature the lightweight and strong Series 7000 Aluminium Alloy it uses on the Apple Watch Sport.
There are numerous Apple patents in the wild which point to weird and wonderful designs, but haven't yet come to anything, such as more than one for a phone with a curved display, a little like the Galaxy Note Edge. It's possible that we could see that in the iPhone 6S, but we'd be very surprised.
Not only would it be a risky move to bring something so untested to market but Apple has just redesigned its handsets with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, so in all likelihood this year's models will stick to roughly the same design, albeit with beefed up innards, such as a faster A9 processor.
As well as being available in a smaller size the screen might get tougher, as rumors suggest that Apple has teamed with Foxconn to produce sapphire displays for the iPhone 6S.
Such screens were rumored for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but production difficulties seemingly got in the way. Hopefully this time we actually will get them as it would bring better scratch protection and higher visibility to the screen.
Apple iPhone 6S / iPhone 7 rivals
As the only flagship iOS device the iPhone 6S will be in the fortunate position of not having any direct rivals. But look towards Android and it could have quite a lot of competition. The HTC One M9 and Samsung Galaxy S6 are high end alternatives and are likely to have dropped in price considerably by the time the iPhone 6S launches.
Both also sport a premium design, making them every bit as aesthetically pleasing as the iPhone 6. Speaking of the iPhone 6, that too could be a rival, since the iPhone 6S will probably have the same look and may not have many new features.
Then there's the upcoming LG G4 and Sony Xperia Z4 which could tempt all but the staunchest of Apple fans and Samsung is bound to have another Note up its sleeve, with the Galaxy Note 5 likely to be a serious iPhone 6S Plus rival.
Apple iPhone 6S / iPhone 7 camera and battery
Apple has acquired a company which creates smartphone cameras designed to match DSLR quality, so we could see a big jump in image quality on the iPhone 6S. That lines up with earlier reports from Daring Fireball's John Gruber, who said the iPhone 6S will have "the biggest camera jump ever", featuring a two-lens system which apparently brings it up to DSLR quality.
We could even speculate what that camera might be, as Sony has announced a 21MP stacked CMOS sensor which might fit the bill. There's even an outside chance that the camera might include a lens swap feature, making it even more like a DSLR, as back in early 2014 an Apple patent for swappable lenses was uncovered, though patents don't always turn into products.
But don't hold your breath for these features, as the original two-lens rumor has had doubt cast on it by a separate source, claiming that it won't happen as it would apparently require a radical redesign of the chassis- something we're not likely to see until the following year.
The battery may be in for a boost though, as Apple is seemingly going on a hiring spree for battery-related positions.
Apple iPhone 6S / iPhone 7 OS and power
The iPhone 6S will of course come with a new processor, probably dubbed the A9 and we're hearing again that Samsung is in the frame to build the chip, which will apparently be 15% smaller, 20% more powerful and 35% more power efficient than the Apple A8 processor found in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
It will also be better to flick around, thanks to the mooted upgrade in the specs - 2GB of RAM would certainly soup up an already zippy phone and it's an upgrade which has now been rumored a second time, so it might well happen. That said, the obvious worry is whether developers hoovering up that extra power will cause Apple to return to its usual battery woes.
Reports suggest Apple will publicly try out its next operating system through a beta system later this summer. According to reports from 9to5mac Apple will let users sign up to a beta programme for iOS 9 with access coming to those public testers at some point during the summer.
If the rumors are to be believed it will then launch on the iPhone 6S/7, but will likely only supply bug fixes and won't introduce any major new features.
Apple iPhone 6S / iPhone 7 other features
The iPhone 6S could get two innovative features if rumors are to be believed. First up there's the Apple SIM, which first appeared in the iPad Air 2 and allows users to switch network without changing their SIM card. Network freedom would be great, but we're not convinced that carriers will support it.
The other rumored feature takes the form of 'Force Touch'. This is something we're first seeing on the Apple Watch and it allows the display to differentiate between different strength presses, responding in different ways.
Aside from those things it's expected that support for Apple's new streaming music service will be included in the iOS 8.4 update, but that isn't confirmed just yet so Apple may wait until iOS 9 on the iPhone 6S and bring it in as a major new feature. The music streaming service comes after Apple purchased Beats last year and is expected to take on the tough competition of Spotify.
Apple iPhone 6S / iPhone 7 cost
There aren't yet any rumors associated with the cost of the iPhone 6S, but we can take an educated guess that it won't start at less than £539 / $649 / AU$999, since that's what you're looking at for an iPhone 6.
The only possible exception to that is the iPhone 6C, which likely will be a little cheaper if it exists. If anything though the iPhone 6S might be even more expensive, since it's likely to be jam-packed with high-end tech.
iPhone 6S / 7: What we want to see
1. A smaller screen
We know, we know. Everybody's been going "Apple should totally make bigger phones", and now we're effectively saying "O noes! Apple your phones are too big!" But bear with us on this one.
For many people the iPhone 5S is the perfect size, big enough for apps but not so big you need a friend to help you carry it. If you tend to use your phone as a phone, bigger screens can be counter-productive, especially if you have small hands or just don't like holding something enormous to the side of your head.
We think an iPhone 6S or iPhone 7 with the same screen size as the 5S would be a winner, not instead of the larger models, but alongside them. The good news is rumors suggest this is exactly what we're going to get.
2. Wireless charging
Wireless charging remains one of the most frustrating technologies around, because while it's here, it works and it feels like living in the future, it isn't as widely supported as we'd like.
It's rather like Google Wallet's NFC payments in that respect: the idea's sound but maybe it needs a fruit-themed firm from Cupertino to get on board before it'll really take off. An iPhone 6S or iPhone 7 with wireless charging would be great, especially if the same charger worked for the Apple Watch too.
3. Lightning cables that don't die
Some members of the Ephemeroptera family, such as mayflies, have a lifespan of just one day. That means they last approximately eleventy billion times longer than Lightning cables.
We know that spontaneously self-harming cables should be covered by the warranty, but if the iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 Lightning cables could be toughened up to save us those trips to the Genius Bar we'd be delighted. If Apple won't give us wireless charging, it could at least eliminate the weakness in its chargers.
4. No more 16GB models
iOS 8 adoption has stalled, and we reckon it's largely because people with 16GB iPhones don't have enough free space for the 5.7GB over-the-air update and don't want to use iTunes because, well, iTunes.
When your software updates are too big for your entry level products, your entry level products clearly don't come with enough storage. How about starting at 32GB for the iPhone 6S and 64GB for the iPhone 7? We can't store everything in iCloud, even when it's working properly.
5. The same camera as the iPhone 6 Plus
The iPhone 6 Plus camera takes better photos than the iPhone 6 camera because it's stabilised.
The necessary bits and pieces add a whopping 0.2mm to the thickness of the device, and we can promise Apple that the number of people who wouldn't buy an iPhone 6S or iPhone 7 because it was 7.1mm instead of 6.9mm is as insignificant as that 0.2mm difference.
6. More RAM
The current iPhones are perfectly nippy, but Safari's need to reload web pages when you've only got a few tabs open is a big clue that iOS would really like some more RAM to play with. The more stuff your phone does, such as tracking your health or communicating with your Apple watch, the more RAM it can use.
64-bit apps need more RAM than 32-bit apps anyway. Thankfully the iPad Air 2 has 2GB of RAM and there's speculation that the next iPhone will as well.
7. An alternative to super SuperSlipOMinium
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are made from a metal that appears to be SuperSlipOMinium, a substance so slippery that human hands simply can't grip it. That's great news for the screen replacement and third party protective case industries, but it'd be nice if holding our phones was easier than gripping a wet eel.
8. A higher resolution screen
The screens of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus deliver 326ppi and 401ppi respectively. That's pretty good, but the higher density of rival devices such as the HTC One M9's 441ppi and the Samsung Galaxy S6's 577ppi is better still. If you like big phones and tend to hold them close, you'd want that kind of pixel density in your iPhone 6S or iPhone 7.
9. Better battery life
You could make this point in the wish list for any smartphone, of course, but while the iPhone 6 Plus is comfortably ahead of its rivals in the stamina stakes the iPhone 6 isn't. That's because the Plus has more room for a significantly bigger battery, but once again we'd be willing to trade slimness for power: a 4.7-inch iPhone 6S or iPhone 7 that was slightly thicker but lasted longer would be an easy sell.
The big problem with battery life, of course, is that all the other stuff on your wish list tends to affect it. Higher pixel densities can negatively affect battery life, as can using more RAM. Such changes don't necessarily have a huge impact individually, but smartphones are very tricky balancing acts: you can have extraordinary performance, incredible displays and astonishing battery life, but you can't have all three at the same time just yet.
10. Flexible displays
Never mind fighting against accusations of bendy phones. Apple should embrace them and make the iPhone 6S or iPhone 7 the bendiest smartphone the world has ever seen. We're talking flexible screens printed on plastic instead of glass, iPhones that you can bend and twist and sit on to your heart's content without any unpleasant consequences. If nothing else Apple should do it purely to annoy Samsung, who have been promising bendable smartphones for years.
iPhone 6S / 7: Concepts
We're a long way from the launch of the new iPhone, people. If you can't wait to find out what it's going to look like, well, the internet never disappoints.
OK - it does if you're looking for actual accurate visuals on the next iPhone, but the concept artists have already been grinding their digital looms into action to start showing us how they think the next version should look:
With the touch sensitive panels on the side, the phone will enable a low power display to show message or app notifications without needing to waste energy firing up the battery-guzzling screen.
Plus the side controls allow for all new gaming abilities for your digits - that's an idea we can get on board with.
Apparently Apple's subtle curves got it all wrong. What we need is to drop the home button (but keep the space as an homage to the logo) and then make it grippably industrial again.
The always-popular edge to edge display is out in force once more, and Jan-Willem Reusink's idea is still all about the metal. But what about the radio signal eh? That's one for Apple to work out, apparently.