Currently, Apple develops and sells a major new iPhone every two years. It’s the famous “tick-tock” cycle, where Apple introduces a new flagship like the iPhone 6 and then follows it with an upgrade, the iPhone 6s, before returning to another major release. A new report suggests Apple will bump this “major” upgrade cycle from every two years to every three.
Nikkei suggests that will begin with this year’s iPhone 7, which isn’t expected to offer major upgrades over the iPhone 6s. This thought isn’t new. In fact, most pundits now believe Apple will launch a major iPhone upgrade in 2017 but will be relatively conservative with its changes this year.
What is new is that Nikkei suggests Apple will continue this cycle of launching a flagship every three years instead of every two, due to “smartphone functions have little room left for major enhancements” and “a slowing market.” The report said Apple’s iPhone 7 will “look almost identical” to the iPhone 6s but that it will feature an upgraded camera, improved battery life and water resistance.
Nikkei also provided some insight into what to expect in the 2017 iPhone, again pointing to an OLED panel but also noting it will feature components that allow it to “create more complex tactile vibrations on the display because of a tiny, but high-performance motor equipped inside.”
My guess is that Apple is going to watch the market and will adapt accordingly, depending on what’s available and what it feels it needs to add to its smartphones to remain competitive. That may mean a 3 year term between flagships this year, but Apple could move just as easily back to a tick-tock cycle if it felt it necessary.