iPhone 7/6S release date: iOS 9, NFC, Apple Pay, Cupertino’s next move

Thanks to the overwhelming success of two key products, Apple now has a surprise decision to make: launch the iPhone 6S next, according to schedule, or jump ahead and give the iPhone 7 an early release date. Apple is seeing record sales of its new iPhone 6, and perhaps more importantly in the long term, has achieved significant mainstream adoption of its Apple Pay service. Now the Cupertino company has a decision to make as to which smartphone to bring out next, and that decision may also depend on the development of iOS 9, the next version of its mobile system software.

The play for Apple will be to simply launch the iPhone 6S first, and give the iPhone 7 a release date the year after. But there’s a reason why Apple Pay would benefit from consolidating those launches, and it’s not the one you might initially think. If Apple launches the 6S next, that means the 6 drops to the $99 price slot and the 5S becomes free with contract. But the 5S doesn’t have NFC built in, meaning it can’t be used for Apple Pay at retail. The best move from standpoint is to give the next two iPhones the same release date. By launching the iPhone 7 ($199) and iPhone 6S ($99) together, and keeping the 6 around for free, the entire lineup instantly becomes Apple Pay-compatible. That means more recurring revenue for Cupertino. So what are the odds of it happening?

That depends somewhat on iOS 9 development. If Apple is to hold the iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 release date in tandem, it’ll need the new system software to deliver a whole host of new features so as to make the entire new iPhone lineup desirable. Then again, Apple can always throw in a hardware-specific headlining feature to make the iPhone 7 stand out from the rest of the lineup, thus ensuring that it notches the highest sales and keeps margins high. Then again, the revenue achieved from having more Apple Pay customers could outweigh any shift in the equilibrium of the iPhone product matrix.

Phil Moore

Phil Moore

Phil covers tech for Stabley Times.