John Gruber reviews Apple’s iPhone 6s/Plus: Everything is new

“The pattern is pretty clear. In even-numbered years (2008, 2010, 2012, 2014) Apple releases all-new iPhone form factors: 3G, 4, 5, 6/6 Plus. In the subsequent years, they release ‘S’ variants: iPhones that look nearly identical to their predecessors, but with improved components,” John Gruber writes for Daring Fireball. “In the same way that automobiles don’t change form factors every year, I don’t think it would be feasible for Apple to change the iPhone’s form factor every year. I think it takes more than a year for Apple’s design team to create a new iPhone design — at least to create a new design that is different because it is better, not merely different for the sake of being different.”

“The glaring downside to this tick-tock schedule is that we as a culture — and particularly the media, both on the tech/gadgetry side and the business side — are obsessed with ‘new.’ And, well, the S-model iPhones don’t look new. This year there is a new rose gold aluminum finish, but at a glance, the iPhones 6S look like last year’s iPhones 6,” Gruber writes. “Every year is an iterative improvement over the previous one, whether it’s an S year or not. But it’s hard not to see the S years as more iterative, less impressive, updates, simply because they look the same.”

“I used to think — and maybe it was even true — that one of the advantages to Apple of the tick-tock cycle is that during the S years, they’re already experts at manufacturing a bunch of the components. That they’ve already got a year of experience making that case, that display, those buttons. That manufacturing-wise, Apple could just swap in a few new components, like a new A-series CPU, and call it a day,” Gruber writes. “But the iPhones 6S don’t use the same case as last year’s models. They’re now made out of an altogether new ‘7000 series’ aluminum alloy. This isn’t just a new material that needs to be obtained in massive quantities, it also requires new CNC machining to carve and polish the frames. The displays are the same sizes as last year, but Apple is using a new glass that it calls ‘the strongest in the smartphone industry.” Even the Touch ID sensor is new. Everything you can touch on the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus is new.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: What if Apple had possessed the confidence this year to drop the misguided “S” naming scheme and call this year’s iPhones either the “iPhone 7” and “iPhone 7 Plus” or, perhaps even better yet, simply iPhone (2015) or (9th gen.) and iPhone Plus (2015) or (9th gen.)?

Would the media then treat the these basically all-new iPhones as less impressive and merely iterative? Would that name change have garnered even more attention and publicity for the new iPhones? In the utterly predictable media uproar over the name, would even more focus be placed on what exactly is new about these iPhones (3D Touch, Live Photos, 4K videos, 12-megapixel iSight camera, 5-megapixel FaceTime HD camera, Apple A9, 7000 series aluminum, dual ion‑exchange glass, etc.)? Would the net benefit to Apple and the iPhone be positive?

It’s not about sales figures or the model’s success (as long as “iPhone” is in the name, it will be a success), it’s about setting a tone. In this case, with the “S,” Apple sets a tone that they are just making an incremental update… Why gift the naysayers with the opportunity, Apple?MacDailyNews Take, April 5, 2013

Insanely Great: iPhone 6s benchmarks as powerful as the Retina MacBook – September 22, 2015
TechCrunch reviews iPhone 6s/Plus: ‘The camera alone is worth the price of admission’ – September 22, 2015
Mossberg reviews iPhone 6s/Plus: ‘The best smartphone, period.’ – September 22, 2015
The Verge reviews iPhone 6s/Plus: ‘You should buy an iPhone 6S Plus’ – September 22, 2015
USA Today’s Baig reviews iPhone 6s/Plus: 3D Touch, great camera add up to tempting upgrade – September 22, 2015
Apple sees fastest iOS adoption ever with iOS 9 as iPhone 6s/Plus set to arrive on September 25th – September 21, 2015
Apple, enough with the stupid iPhone ‘S’ naming already – September 16, 2015


      1. I think we’re getting lost in the weeds a bit concerning the iphone naming conventions–and overlooking a GREAT article w/ a valid point regarding the constant call for ‘new look’ phone. What Apple engineering has done underneath the hood is jaw-dropping–desktop class processor etc. It would be foolish for Apple to trash a new iphone body design after only 1 year..and ‘S’ only serves to signal upgraded value to those users who still holding out on buying a 6..

    1. It’s remarkably juvenile, isn’t it?

      “Would the media then treat the these basically all-new iPhones as less impressive and merely iterative?”

      By calling it “7” instead of “6S” the reaction in the media would be the exact opposite; “It’s obviously the exact same phone with a few tweaks, why pretend it’s an entirely new phone?”

      It does not matter what it’s called, people will SEE that it LOOKS the SAME.

      Sorry, MDN, your childish ranting over Apple’s naming conventions is getting old.

      1. Perhaps because the answers obliterate your argument, you seem to have ignored two of MDN’s questions, Mr. Juvenile:

        Would that name change have garnered even more attention and publicity for the new iPhones?

        In the utterly predictable media uproar over the name, would even more focus be placed on what exactly is new about these iPhone?

        The answers are yes and yes.

        1. MDN take like many is totally misguided. Apple receive huge attention because they are the king of mobile phones and NOT because of naming convention. The attack on Apple would be far worse if Apple changed naming convention to say iPhone 7. I think MDN’s idea of using the year would be acceptable but will NOT change the media attack.

          Bottom line, everyone understand the current naming convention and changing it because of a handful of misguided media people who are most likely paid by the likes of SameSung or others who pay them is short sighted.

        2. Wrong.

          In case you haven’t noticed, most media outlets like to point out what’s wrong with Apple… And in that case it would’ve been, “It LOOKS the SAME!!! Except it comes in Rose Gold now!!!” and would probably completely overlook EVERYTHING else and dwell on that one thing.

          Honestly, have you read all the crap about how it’s not really “Rose Gold” it’s just “Pink”. These morons are actually arguing about THAT! Who cares what else it can do, “Look! Apple can’t even get color right!”

    2. Yes, why so upset? Do you actually believe Apple puts no thought into their naming scheme? Apple seems to be selling a lot of product with the naming convention they are using, so why are you so sure they have it wrong? This naming thing is a mole hill, not a mountain.

      1. Yes, it would be unlike Apple to be careless about such a decision. Calling it a 7 would have the media howling that nothing’s really changed (though who really cares about the media?).
        Premium automotive brands don’t make major styling changes every year, because it would devalue their brand – there’s something similar about this. iPhone sales grow strongly, while other phones struggle even though they introduce a plethora of new models every year. So who’s got it wrong?

  1. There is enough great things in the new iPhone that merited that it be labeled the 7. I think Apple missed a perfect and cheap opportunity from a marketing standpoint to keep the unrelenting pressure on Samsung and the whole roid market.

    Just like it would’ve been ok to skip the 6s and go to 7, it would still be ok to go to the 7s. Apple has Scamsung running, why not keep them running and kick them when they’re down. Potentially revenues could triple just by repositioning existing market share. That’s what I’m betting on and I’m glad I bought my stock when I did. This downturn has been perfect for me!

    1. Perhaps it’s the fact that so many are tied into 2 year upgrade plans.

      If you purchase an iPhone 6 at launch, and just a few months later the new iPhone 7 is released… aaargh!

      If the new phone is called the iPhone 6s, it at least doesn’t SEEM like your current phone is quite as “outdated”.

  2. I am vacillating at the 7 vs 6S naming. I would hesitate the change, simply because it looks the same. The 6S “is” the same, at a glance. It deserves to be 7, in spirit, for all the reasons given.

    A compromise would be, calling the phone 6TS, “S” for body style, and T for everything else. (iTouch, 3D Touch, Tactile Feel) It has been said the phone is now “grippier.” That’s a word.

    “T” would have gone a long way to help in naming the phone contextually, in the same way as “3G” and “3GS” did for the second and third, iPhones.

  3. I see by MDN’s take that it is still obsessed with nomenclature. If Apple dropped the “S” and numbered sequentially, it then would shift to odd and even. No difference. The name of an item is, by far, its least important attribute. It’s like complaining about a car because of the color of its radiator cap.

  4. Apple treats the S line like a software point release. Since they put so much of their effort and marketing into the design aspect of their products, it would be somewhat disingenuous and contradictory to treat an extremely similar design as anything but a refresh. They are very specific across almost all of their product lines about when they redesign something.

    I doubt given the rabid faithful that the name of the phone would swing sales so far that it would make a difference to Apple. The marketing of the iPhone is as much about Apple branding as anything else: it is their flagship product and their ultimate piece of design. They won’t muddy the waters by calling something that looks old something new.

  5. One of the most amusing inanities of the tech journalists and analcysts is the incessant DEMAND for a new, revolutionary toy every year. If Apple can’t meet their cocaine/meth/speed induced manic, hallucinatory expectations, then Apple must be failing. 🙄 So Wallnut Street.

  6. Personally have zero issue and an appreciation with naming convention, consider that owners of iphone 5 & 6 don’t feel quite so abandoned by Apple in their sizabe investment… not everyone can afford newest level of prestige, etc

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