Apple may want to take longer between major iPhone upgrades from now on


Is Apple thinking what we're all thinking? Over the past couple of years, smartphone innovation went on at such blistering pace that it seems the smartphone has peaked all too early. This device no longer has any major new functionality to offer or substantially refine. The quality gap between low-cost and high-end models has never been narrower, and pretty much everyone in need of a good phone either has or it's able to get one.

While the latter two observations are highly welcome, the erratic tempo of hardware improvements and lowering of manufacturing costs has exhausted manufacturers of opportunities to excite us like they used to. Ironically, it has brought innovation – not modular phones, but the kind that makes you question how you got by without it before – to a halt. It looks like Apple has become tired of the frenetic arms race and plans to take it a little easier from now on.

According to Japanese publication Nikkei, Apple is about to adopt a three year cycle between major product upgrades for the iPhone, in particular. Reportedly, the change is motivated precisely by the little opportunity left for enhancing the already refined smartphone hardware. Thus, we are once again treated to the rumor that the alleged iPhone 7 will be an incremental update to the iPhone 6s where the major design and functionality changes typical of non-"s" generation models will be absent. And rather than following up the iPhone 7 with an "s" update, in 2017 Apple might jump directly to the iPhone 8, which is allegedly poised to receive an AMOLED display and considerable design changes.

Nikkei claims that this change will inevitably stir component suppliers from Japan, Taiwan, and other parts of Asia because of their strong reliance on demand from Apple. Moreover, production schedules provided by the company to its production partners assert that the Cupertino masterminds don't expect better iPhone sales than last year's. In 2015, Apple sold around 230 million handsets, and anticipates a lesser figure for 2016.

As it stands, we can't be certain whether the three-year major upgrade cycle between the sixth and seventh-gen iPhone will be a one-time occasion, or Apple actually plans sticking to this schedule, which honestly seems a bit rigid. Perhaps time and technological advances will have to tell about that.

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53 Comments

1. TechDork

Posts: 402; Member since: May 10, 2010

I would rather them take time to come up with an all new iPhone. The iPhone 6, 6S, & Plus are all substantial devices. There's no reason not to wait a year or so to put out the next flagship iPhone in order to get it right & truly be something innovative.

14. sgodsell

Posts: 7195; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

How can you even begin to think the iPhone 6/6S, and plus versions are substantial, especially if you compare them to the competition. Apple has been behind the curve for quite some time now. The other factor to consider is Apples pricing, especially for what you are getting. The iPhone 6S is priced at $650 and you are not getting the best screen or cameras on the market. As a matter of fact Apples iPhone 6/6S has the lowest resolution display on any flagship type device. That retina crap is exactly that crap. When I see phones like the HTC One m7 that came out in 2013 with the same size display as the iPhone 6S at 4.7". Yet the HTC One M7 display had a resolution of 1920x1080, and the iPhone 6/6S only has a resolution of 1334x750 in 2016. The only reason to keep such a low resolution display is for graphics benchmark bragging rights. A 1080p display is pushing 2 times the number of pixels. And a Quad HD display (QHD) is pushing 4 times the number of pixels compared to an iPhone 6/6S display. The thing is even mid range to low end Android devices are now offering better and higher resolution displays at a fraction of the cost of an iPhone 6/6S. The next area is the cameras. Apple hasn't been the best for quite some time now. Another area is minimum storage. Although you have options to put up to 128gb of storage. You also have to layout an additional $200 for that 128gb of storage. Putting 16gb into a flagship device is a disgrace. The competition hasn't used 16gb for its flagship devices for a couple of years now. And if any devices do, then they can usually expand the storage with micro SD cards. Apples greed is finally catching up with them.

17. Ahovking

Posts: 711; Member since: Feb 03, 2015

1. Pricing comes down to brand.. nothing more nothing less, just because something cost more or less doesn’t mean its worth said price… my problem with the S5 which was fixed with the S6 and S7.. was too many features and its another problem i have with android.. so many features i don’t use which just end up wasting space. 2. When it comes to Resolution you will note, no reviewer says its display resolution sucks.. in fact many android reviewers who have handled an iPhone for the first time are amazed that they can’t tell the difference between a QHD screen and the iPhones QHD screen (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_bgpu1A5Gw) Skip to 4:05 to see and android fanboy realise that Apples HD screen is as Good as a QHD screen, the only area apple really fills behind is the fact Apple is still using LCD.. its nothing compared to OLED 3. You claim spec wise its only a mid rage to low end android phone? how embarrassed do you feel knowing with all the high end specs you have and yet in speed tests the iPhone is still faster and in benchmarking it comes second to samsung.. so we all know performance wise its as fast and powerful as anything android as to offer. 4. Check this out (http://www.phonearena.com/news/iPhone-6s-vs-Galax​y-S6-LG-G4-iPhone-6-blind-camera-comparison-vote-f​or-the-best-phone_id74404) in 2015, the iPhone 6s was voted by android users and iOS users to have the best camera… it won 3 while Samsung only won 2 of the shots.. you can not claim apple has the worst cameras when it wins out against the Note and the Galaxy.. and comparing a 2016 phone like the S7 to a 2015 iPhone isn’t fair.. lets wait for the 2016 version of the iPhone to see history repeats itself. 5. 16gb is cheap, and i agree with you that it shouldn’t be used.. however my work buys 16gb iPhones before it forces you to use that work phone for work.. it limits the apps you can have to work orientated apps.. so although i understand why they have kept it.. i still don’t want to see it.

23. Dr.Hye

Posts: 95; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

Dude go to DXMO Mark and it will show you the ranking for all the smart phone cameras. I phones is barely in the top 10.

24. Dr.Hye

Posts: 95; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

Dude go to DXMO Mark and it will show you the ranking for all the smart phone cameras. I phones is barely in the top 10.

25. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

You say one thing you hate is Android has more features that you don't use. The thing is, you are not everyone. I may not use all of the features that are available in Android, but I realize that many people do use those features. So should they strip Android of those features because I don't use them? Wouldn't that deprive the people who do use those features of them? I've never used 4K recording or panorama mode in the camera, but I don't think they should remove those features because I don't use them, because I know there are many that do. Until these companies start tailor making devices for individuals, we need to realize that it's about the majority of users, and we need to buy what fits ojr needs the closest.

50. Ahovking

Posts: 711; Member since: Feb 03, 2015

I never said i was everyone and like you said… i said one of the reasons why “I” don’t like (i never said hate) about android is it has too many features. You will find.. the majority of android users do not do a lot of “customising” their OS.. Samsung properly found that features like the ir blaster was being used by less than an amount that would of made it justifiable to keep it.. (i honestly know no one who uses a ir blaster).. Android offers so many features which are cool… and fun and great but never end up using them…they end up setting there.. taking up space.

52. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

So then what's your solution to it, not enough features? The only other option is having a tailor made device. IR blaster isn't something you customize on Android, it's just a feature that's there that you can use or not. I personally don't see the point other than bragging rights. Why run down the battery in my phone when I have a remote control that uses battery much more sparingly?

28. Ruturaj

Posts: 1484; Member since: Oct 16, 2014

1. Sure everyone pays for brand. Too many features? Android offers more for same price (even the storage which according to you is getting wasted). You listed same thing twice though. 2. Fanboys are idiots, no matter the brand. QHD is crispier than iPhone's display. 3. It does better because of OS and objective C. It's a low level language (don't just go by low), so apps will perform better on lower hardware for sure. And I really appreciate it in an iPhone. But overall difference to user between flagships is minor. 4. So that was comparision between S6, 6 month older phone than 6S and 6S, wasn't fair. iPhone and S series have 6 month difference between them, so no matter what (according to you definition) the compression will be fair, ever. S6 offered OIS over 6S at same price, I guess overall S6 (6 month older phone) still won over 6S if you include that factor. 5. No, you still haven't understood why they kept it.

51. Ahovking

Posts: 711; Member since: Feb 03, 2015

more doesn’t make something better or worth a higher price…Apple offers less but offers better developed features like connectivity.. which android is still lagging behind and has made a more larger impact on my life than most new features both Apple and Android have recently been coming out with. Watch the video.. He clearly is on your side.. he is an android users.. who was shocked when he couldn’t tell the difference between an iPhone HD and a QHD.. explain? The iPhone 6 and the S6 are both 2015 phones.. both 6 Gen Phones if you like… Compare the iPhone 6 to a more recent Note will show improvements but iPhone will still win, Comparing a 2015 phone to a 2016 phone is pretty desperate. Oh to say money? because bumping the 16 to a 32.. wouldn’t cost them a cent… like its crazy cheap… saying Apple is holding back on the 16 because it would cost them more is a joke.

33. mitchytan92

Posts: 92; Member since: Mar 02, 2015

I think that Phonearena test is crap. I own an iPhone 6S+ now. It is a great phone in its own ways but camera just isn't one. It is okay when compared to others on day shots. But the low light shots (Totally not covered by Phonearena's test AGAIN?? Apple bias site much?) is just bad even compared to a S6 (Which is released early 2015 and the 6S at late 2015). Noisy images and it is just hard to capture details without flash. On video it is even worse.

2. Zomer

Posts: 361; Member since: May 31, 2013

You must be stupid if you really think Apple will do this, it will only cost them loads of money. People want something new in their hands instead of a device that is laying on the shelves for 36 months.

4. Manyci

Posts: 116; Member since: Aug 03, 2015

The article didn't say, that there won't be a new iPhone every year. They just said, that there will be a new MAJOR upgrade only in every 3 years (now this is 2 years: a new model and an "S" model, and then a new model again). So as I can see, they will launch a new phone every year in the future as well, but there won't be major changes, only in every 3rd year.

3. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

iPhone 8, iPhone 8S, iPhone 8SS... Innovation /s

13. submar

Posts: 713; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

Innovation indeed, the naming scheme.

5. Iodine

Posts: 1478; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

That's understandable, innovation just gets harder and harder, as the devices right now are already amazing. There are already "future tech" like 3D touch, touch ID, great big displays and so on. It's just harder to improve upon. Especially getting things thinner is a monumental feat these days.

22. ph00ny

Posts: 2025; Member since: May 26, 2011

So if you slap on a fancy name to an existing tech, it's considered innovation? Fml

31. Iodine

Posts: 1478; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

What existing tech ? I haven't seen an iPhone 6S released before Apple did it. Some tech wasn't even called out.

32. iushnt

Posts: 3086; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

He means fancy names like 3D Touch, Touch ID, Retina Display

37. Iodine

Posts: 1478; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

So when was something like super sensitive presure sensing tech that can immerse you in "depth" of the software ? I haven't seen that before and 3D touch is more than adequate name for that.

49. yoghibawono

Posts: 240; Member since: May 04, 2016

those features already exist before iPhone. Apple just did a terrific job with the naming scheme and advertising it

6. RoboticEngi

Posts: 1251; Member since: Dec 03, 2014

I really dont like apple. But I 100% agree on this one. Manufactors just doesnt come up with enough new stuff from model to model....

7. Firestorm

Posts: 44; Member since: Jun 27, 2015

Iphone 7 will destroy competition.. 2017 gonna be record breaking..

10. sgodsell

Posts: 7195; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

They will have only destroy the competition if they copy the competition, and lower their prices. Oh, wait Apple is already doing that, except for the pricing.

12. tedkord

Posts: 17303; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

That's what they were saying about 2016 at this time last year.

18. Ahovking

Posts: 711; Member since: Feb 03, 2015

No it will not be record breaking...

29. Ruturaj

Posts: 1484; Member since: Oct 16, 2014

Not this one, next one may be.

8. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3100; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Because they are out of ideas. They'll start "inventing" from other companies.

26. 47AlphaTango

Posts: 717; Member since: Sep 27, 2015

Nope. It's just that it's spending most of their time on R&D. Unlike other companies which releases a lot of phones. A good example is the S7 vs similar Samsung device. Which phones would a user pick? A flagship or a mediocre ones?

9. jacksmith21006

Posts: 68; Member since: Nov 03, 2015

There is tons and tons of innovation happening with smartphones. The issue is that Apple just has not participated. So on the Android side we have displays that have increased pixel density to support VR. So Android has phones with over 800 ppi. Compare this to the iPhone 6S that is 326 ppi which is the exact same amount when Jobs was alive. So the iPhone 4 was also 330 ppi. Ok, I lied and the iPhone has actually declined from 330 to 326 over the last 5 years. Android is building the equivalent to two GPUs in phones coming out later this year. This is also needed for VR. But the huge one is something called a TPU. Google has been building their models for things like Siri equiv in the cloud. They then built silicon to support called a TPU. They are now building an equiv for the client. What this means is that things like NLP (Natural Language Processing) will happen offline. But there is so much more this enables. Today you only have a small window to do whatever a user requests because users are impatient and will move on. Today with NLP happening in the cloud it takes time and therefore you have little else you can do besides the NLP. Google putting the NLP on the client and in silicon (ASIC) it allows them to offer a better NLP experience AND then be able to do more features in the time allotted as what was taking 90% of the time Google proprietary solution reduced by a factor of 2 (100 x). Would expect Google now to focus on layers higher, get data in cloud, build models, put on client and then move to the next layer. As they say "Lather, Rinse, Repeat".

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