The follow-up to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) historically popular iPhone 6 will have its work cut out for it.
With Apple likely to set fresh quarterly and annual financial records with its current suite of iPhones, many fear Apple's presumed iPhone 6s lineup will simply be unable to match the iPhone 6's torrid growth. And with the iPhone increasingly becoming the engine that drives Apple's finances, this has Apple investors understandably concerned.
Although they can't necessarily be taken as gospel, we've started to see the first of what will assuredly become a flood of Apple iPhone 6s rumors over the past few weeks. And as consumers and investors begin to shift their focus from Apple's current iPhone to its next one, two more Apple iPhone 6s rumors surfaced this week that investors will certainly want to note.
Back to the future
Whether Apple would revive the largely underappreciated c-class for next year's iPhone lineup has been an area of particularly intense speculation of late. Word that Apple indeed plans to release an iPhone 6c surfaced recently, and the (somewhat unreliable) Taiwanese tech journal Digitimes claims that Apple plans to launch the iPhone 6c with the same smaller screen size as the iPhone 5c from last year.
It's an interesting idea, and one that certainly makes sense in several ways. As I mentioned in a previous article, the iPhone 5c, although breaking with some past norms, was actually a smart financial move for Apple. Thanks to the low-cost inputs like its casing, the iPhone 5c actually generated a higher gross margin than Apple would have earned if it had kept the iPhone 5 as its $99 "second tier" handset.
Returning to this playbook could simply be Apple padding its margins in between its traditional even-year form factor overhauls. And assuming Apple uses the same kind of bright color designs, an iPhone 6c could also help cater to customers whose tastes appreciate a handset with a little more "personality" (no offense Siri) than the traditional, more industrial design-driven look of the more expensive iPhones. The notion of an iPhone 6c, even a smaller screen one, makes sense, so make sure to watch these rumors and potential supply chain leaks as they assuredly filter in over the coming months.
Camera stays ahead of the curve
This data point should come as no surprise. Apple has consistently leveraged its hardware engineering prowess to soup-up its camera offering without engaging in the largely meaningless megapixel arms race other hardware OEMs have used to peddle their own wares.
Rather, in a recently published patent filing, Apple detailed a method for improving the light-filtering capabilities of a camera within a thin wireless device (read: the iPhone). The new design allows an iPhone's camera to split incoming lighting into distinct color sets like red, blue, and green (RGB) or cyan, yellow, green, and magenta (CYGM). Each prism then filters into its own pixel sensor array, mimicking technology commonly found in professional grade video and camera equipment.
You can dig more into the details of the patent filing here if you'd like, but the general point is that Apple's developed a way to produce more precise, detailed images without necessarily changing the camera itself. The patent was filed in 2011 and Apple doesn't always include every patent it files in its devices. But with video and image quality being a consistent hallmark of Apple's device marketing efforts, it's a virtual lock that Apple will introduce some kind of technical improvements in the iPhone 6s' cameras.
These kinds of rumors can grow tedious, and we're sure to see plenty more of them arise in the next few months. However, since Apple generates the bulk of its sales and profit from hardware -- primarily the iPhone -- staying informed on whether the next generation of iPhones will maintain their hardware leadership is only good business for any Apple investor.