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. 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 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.
This is the silliest part of the vast majority of “s” cycle reviews – the notion that it’s the same exterior with some upgraded innards. Yes, design-wise it *looks* similar, but imagine what a pain in the ass it is to have to change all your tooling/processes to make all these small differences that constitute the iPhone 6s (and 6s Plus).
As Gruber goes on to note:
I think it’s backwards to think that in an S year, Apple simply takes the previous model and makes a few tweaks. Instead, I think what’s obvious is that knowing the basic industrial design at least two years ahead of time gives the engineering teams inside Apple an opportunity to make significant changes to the components and the materials used to construct them. The timeline for iPhones, because of the massive scale at which they must be manufactured, is such that, right now, as I’m typing this, the design for next year’s iPhone 7 is either locked down or very close to it. The company will now spend the next year hustling to make it work and put it into production so it can start shipping a year from now. But that means there are also teams already at work on the iPhone 7S slated for 2017 — and they have a massive head start in terms of knowing the shape and dimensions of the device.
In a way, the non-”s” phone are beta releases (which is unfair, but you catch my drift) which are then perfected for the “s” release. We’ve seen this time and time again over the age of the iPhone. And yes, we do indeed know that the next few iterations of the iPhone are already in testing somewhere inside an Apple building.
Finally, the most amazing part of the new iPhone:
The new iPhone 6S beats the new MacBook in single-core performance on Geekbench, and is within spitting distance in multi-core. That’s astounding. I can’t wait to see the scores for the iPad Pro later this year.
That is what we used to refer to as a “boom.”