The iPhone 7 release date is coming sooner than expected, and the iPhone 6S is coming even sooner – according to a source we have in the supply chain who now tells us that Apple is looking at a condensed six month release timetable going forward in order to not only keep up with the more frequent releases from Samsung but also to provide a boost to iPhone sales when the iWatch launches in the spring. But is Apple truly prepared to step things up that swiftly?
Apple’s longtime pattern of offering an S-model every other year has been in deference to the fact that most cellphone carriers have only allowed their customers to upgrade every eighteen to twenty-four months. But new plans like Verizon NEXT and AT&T EDGE allow more frequent smartphone upgrades than the traditional every other year eligibility, making that traditional timetable obsolete. Apple has also seen such a strong response to its major stylistic redesign with the iPhone 6 that it’s now heavily invested in the idea of making a major design change every other year.
That would point to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 6S both arriving next fall, with the 7 being the more expensive flagship model and the 6S being the mid range model from day one. But our source says that Apple is hesitant about launching the iWatch in the spring of 2015 without a new iPhone to go along with it, as it could give hesitant consumers an excuse to wait on buying both until the fall.
As such, Apple is looking at giving the iPhone 6S a release date in the spring with the Watch, and then launching the iPhone 7 in Sept 2015 accordingly. Another variant has the iPhone 6S arriving in the spring and sticking around for a full year, with the iPhone 7 being released in the spring of 2016. There is some precedent, as Apple only kept the iPad 3 on the market for six months before launching the iPad 4.
If Apple truly is about to launch the iPhone 6S in six months and the iPhone 7 another half year after that, there will be blowback from those who see the move as overkill – but Cupertino is well aware that those types tend to criticize it for everything it does or doesn’t do anyway. While our source stresses that it’s still very early in the decision making process and that Apple could easily change its mind, the mere notion that such a plan is being kicked around points to Tim Cook and company being increasingly willing to break from its patterns.