Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus may be just a few months old, but that hasn't stopped Apple watchers from looking ahead now that 2015 has arrived and wondering what Apple's smartphone plans for the year might be. Here, we round up all of the rumours about the iPhone 6's successor, dubbed iPhone 6S, including release date rumours, specs and new features.
In this article, we're focusing on the next-generation of iPhone, that is, the 4.7in iPhone 6 that launched in September 2014. If you're looking for rumours about the next generation of Apple's 5.5in iPhone, the iPhone 6 Plus, see our iPhone 7 rumour round-up.
Also, find out what's in store for the year: Apple predictions 2015
Updated on 21 January with information about a new Apple patent and rumours about more RAM in the iPhone 6S.
iPhone 6S release date rumours: When is the iPhone 6S coming out?
The most likely release date for the iPhone 6S is September 2015, which would follow Apple's iPhone release schedule history. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were released in September 2014, the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C in September 2013, the iPhone 5 in September 2012 and the iPhone 4S in October 2011.
However, it's possible that Apple will choose to begin releasing new smartphones twice a year, to keep up with the ever growing and improving competition from rivals such as Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony and more.
In fact, the latest rumour (albeit a particularly shaky one), suggests that the iPhone 6S could arrive in spring 2015 alongside the Apple Watch, which is also expected around that time.
That rumour comes from Stabley Times, which claims: "Our source says that Apple is hesitant about launching the iWatch [sic] 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."
Note that the report calls the Apple Watch the 'iWatch', a name that was widely rumoured for Apple's smartwatch but wasn't used by the company.
The report goes on to suggest that the iPhone 7 (which we assume would be the successor to the iPhone 6 Plus), is the smartphone that'll launch in September 2015. Unless, of course, it launches in spring 2016. (We did warn you that the rumour might not be completely reliable).
Despite the sketchy nature of the report, it's not completely incomprehensible that Apple would launch a new iPhone alongside the Apple Watch next year, but it does seem much less likely than a September launch to us.
However, a report that emerged in early December, however, seems to dismiss the idea that the iPhone 6S will arrive in spring 2015. Economic Daily News reports that, while the Apple Watch is still likely to arrive in Spring, the iPhone 6S's A9 chip (which you can find out more about later in this article) has not yet entered mass production, which suggests that a Spring launch is off the cards after all.
iPhone 6S rumours: What new features will the iPhone 6S have?
Rumours about the next generation of iPhones haven't picked up pace yet, but we can expect to see them tumbling in daily as 2015 continues.
For now, though, there are a few rumours floating around about the iPhone 6S's new features, specs and design, which we've collected below.
iPhone 6S rumours: Launching alongside new iPhone 6S mini?
Rumours that hit the web just ahead of Christmas suggested that the iPhone 6S will be joined by an 'iPhone 6S mini', a new 4in smartphone from Apple that will launch alongside the iPhone 6S and 5.5in iPhone 7 in 2015.
That was according to sometimes accurate analyst Timothy Arcuri of Cowen and Company (via Apple Insider), who says his sources claim that it is "possible" that Apple could launch three new versions of the iPhone next year. Find out more about the rumoured iPhone 6S mini (or iPhone 6c) here.
However, there's yet another rumour that dismisses that idea (we're noticing a trend, here). In early January 2015, a Chinese website called feng.com cited sources within Apple's supply chain who say that there's not going to be another 4in iPhone after all.
iPhone 6S rumours: Design & display
We're expecting Apple to stick with the 4.7in display for the iPhone 6's successor, as it's a display size that seems to have gone down well with fans so far.
We also don't think that the overall design of the iPhone 6S will be much different to the iPhone 6. Apple tends to keep the same external design for its iPhones for two generations, so expect the same slim, light and rounded design that's sported by the iPhone 6 to be present when the iPhone 6S arrives.
There have been some rumours to the contrary, though, particularly one that suggests the iPhone 6S's display could wrap around the edges of the smartphone in a similar way to the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge.
This rumour was inspired by an official Apple patent, which describes "sidewall displays" that extend onto the sides of the iPhone, providing interactive or touch-sensitive portions that provide access to the slide-to-unlock feature, music player controls, messaging readout, caller ID, system controls and more.
There's some debate about whether the iPhone 6S will be more durable through the use of new materials including sapphire glass and Liquidmetal, but the bankruptcy of Apple's sapphire partner has put a spanner in the works there, to say the least.
GT Advanced Technologies partnered with Apple to produce sapphire glass at an Apple-owned factory in Arizona that could have been used to manufacture 200 million 5in iPhone displays per year, so without that partnership, the likelihood of sapphire glass being used in an iPhone any time soon is significantly damaged.
Liquidmetal is still on the cards, though. Apple has an exclusive license to the material, but currently only uses it for the SIM-removal tool, despite its desirable qualities such as durability.
In January, rumours began surfacing about a 3D pressure sensor for the iPhone 6S's display, which could mean that Apple is planning to bring the Force Technology that it uses in its Apple Watch to enable the iPhone 6S to differentiate between a tap and a press, which could provide an interesting new way to interact with the smartphone.
iPhone 6S rumours: Camera
Rumours that emerged in November 2014 suggest that we should expect great things from the camera in the next generation of iPhone. In fact, the claim is that the iPhone 6S's camera will represent the biggest camera jump in the history of the iPhone.
The rumour comes from reliable blogger John Gruber of Daring Fireball, who said on a podcast that his source claims that the iPhone 6S's camera will have a two-lens system that could help allow users to capture "DSLR-quality imagery."
A new rumour that hit the web in mid-January also suggests big improvements are coming to the camera in the iPhone 6S. Chinese website United Daily News says that Apple's iPhone 6S will have a dual-lens camera that offers optical zoom capabilities. The aperture is likely to improve, too.
iPhone 6S rumours: Processor
It's highly likely that the iPhone 6S's processor will be named the A9 processor, following on from the already powerful, 64-bit A8 processor. It'll be joined by the M9 co-processor, which handles efficiency by taking all of the jobs carried out by the sensors away from the main processor.
The A9 is rumoured to be being manufactured by Samsung, which is apparently in talks with Apple about becoming the sole manufacturer of its chips, a role it once had before the responsibility was handed over to the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC).
The A9 chip is believed to be being manufactured at Apple's Austin factory, so the processor could be a 'Made in America' component, according to the Korean Electronic Times.
TechNews believes that the iPhone 6S will have 2GB or RAM rather than 1GB found in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which could indicate that iOS 9 will have better multitasking features that would be possible thanks to the extra memory. It's something we've been hoping for for some time now, but it's possible that it'll mean an unwanted price bump for the iPhone 6S.
iPhone 6S rumours: Gaming joystick Home button
This rumour is a bit out there but is completely justified as it comes from Apple itself. A recently discovered Apple patent reveals that the company is considering turning the iPhone's Home button into a gaming joystick.
Yes, that's right, the Home button could have a spring beneath it that allows it to pop up and become a joystick for when you're playing one of the many amazing games available on the iOS App Store.
It sounds like a great idea to the iPhone gamers here at Macworld, with one potential downfall being the Home button's susceptibility to damage if it's able to pop up from its standard position. It's probably unlikely that this feature will come to the next generation iPhone, but it's certainly a possibility for the iPhone after that!
iPhone 6S rumours: Battery life
There have been some rumours about different charging methods for the iPhone 6S, including wireless charging (that didn't arrive with the iPhone 6 as predicted, but was introduced to the Apple Watch as inductive charging), as well as a new, reversible USB charger.
In August, rumoured about the new charger emerged on YouTube, thanks to a view that showed a prototype cable in action with a reversible USB connector as well as the already reversible Lightning connector.
iPhone 6S rumours: Concept images
There are already some concept images of the iPhone 6S (but no leaked components or shots from the production line yet), so we thought we'd share them with you as food for thought.
Designer Martin Hajek, who is becoming well-known for his technology concept illustrations, has come up with the concept image below for Business Insider, as well as the image featured at the top of this article.
Engineer Nikola Cirkovic has created a concept of the iPhone 6S, as picked up by Business Insider.
It has a 5.2in screen, two thin lines that act as sensors that can tell whether the iPhone is in your pocket or on the table, for examle, and finger sensors instead of switches and buttons on the sides.
Behance user Grisha Serov has also come up with an iPhone 6S concept based on the Apple Watch's steel design. Check out the full gallery on Grisha's portfolio.