We’re officially past the halfway point on the annual iPhone calendar.

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus first appeared in stores on September 19, 2014. If Apple sticks to the same mid-September release calendar it’s followed for the past several years, we have less than six months until i-Day. And if Cupertino follows the same upgrade plan — big redesigns for even numbered years, internal specs updates for odd ones — we can likely expect something a bit less radical than the big-screen phablet makeover the iPhone got in 2014.

Of course, that’s all conjecture and educated guesses, based on past history. So with that caveat firmly in mind, we present here a curated collection of gossip, hearsay, and prognostications about Apple’s next big thing.

Announcement and release dates

As stated above, we’d expect to see the next generation of iPhones announced in September. But we could get a preview of the next iPhones — from a software perspective, at least — as soon as next month. That’s when Apple will announce the next version of its mobile operating system, presumably named iOS 9, at its World Wide Developers Conference, scheduled to run from June 8 to 12 in San Francisco. (CNET will have live coverage.)

Design

In 2014, Apple released the iPhone 6, which had a slightly larger profile and display than its predecessor, and the 6 Plus, which, equipped with its supersized 5.5-inch display, marked the company’s first foray into “phablet” territory.

In the wake of the significant design changes that came with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, there is consensus that Apple will focus primarily on internal enhancements with the coming generation instead of bringing out dramatically different-looking handsets. That noted, there is a rumor that the lineup could expand to include three new models: the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, and a “throwback” 4-inch device that some are referring to as the “iPhone 6C” or “iPhone mini.”

Other aesthetic possibilities include new colors (including pink) and perhaps even a 14-karat gold “Edition” model to match the high-end Apple Watch.

iOS

The early predictions characterize Apple as focused on “stability and performance enhancements” for iOS 9 rather than earth-shattering innovations.

Apple’s current operating system, iOS 8, launched a handful of key features including Apple Pay, which continues to gain traction and add retail partners, and the Touch ID fingerprint sensor technology.

Processor

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus both come equipped with the A8, a 64-bit dual-core processor that delivers excellent performance. Though newer competitors such as the HTC One M9 and Samsung Galaxy S6delivered superior scores in CNET’s benchmark testing, hands-on use revealed minimal differences among the three.

According to Bloomberg, sources report that Samsung will produce the main chip in the next iPhone model, which will presumably be the A9.

Battery

The iPhone 6’s battery life isn’t quite an Achilles’ heel, but, on an otherwise outstanding phone, it is one of the few elements that’s merely average. (The larger iPhone 6 Plus, on the other hand, delivers more impressive endurance). Though some have mused that the next iPhone could include a USB-C cablefor charging, another possibility is support for inductive charging — a feature found on the Apple Watchand an increasing number of other non-Apple smartphones including the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge.

Screen

There is a particularly durable rumor about an iPhone with a sapphire display, which would offer a higher degree of scratch and shatter-resistance than the current models’ Gorilla Glass. (The higher-end Apple Watch models have sapphire crystals.)

That said, Corning has already announced a next-gen Gorilla Glass material it’s dubbed Project Phire. The company has stated that products incorporating Phire — which is said to deliver sapphire-like scratch resistance — will hit later this year. That would dovetail perfectly with the timing of new iPhones.

Meanwhile, the next iPhone could also borrow display technology from the Apple Watch: OLED. That would provide best-in-class black levels, contrast and colors found on a growing assortment of smartphones (including the Samsung Galaxy S6), rather than the LCD technology used on current iPhones’ Retina displays.

And — completing the trifecta of possible technology borrowed from the Apple Watch — the company could also choose to incorporate Force Touch to the iPhone’s screen, adding pressure sensitivity to the phone’s interactive bag of tricks.

Camera

Apple’s April 2015 acquisition of Israeli firm LinX Computational has fueled rumors of significant enhancements in camera technology coming with the next iPhone. Specific predictions include multiple apertures that can provide DSLR-quality photos packed into a tinier form factor that could ultimately allow for an even thinner handset.

Author: Cnet