Our look at the upcoming “iPhone 6S” continues today with a discussion of new internal components that are expected to be inside Apple’s latest smartphone. In addition to expected changes such as a Force Touch display, upgraded camera system, and new Qualcomm LTE chip for up to twice-as-fast data speeds, the next iPhone will likely include updated NFC hardware, fewer and more efficient chips, and new flash memory that may nonetheless remain at a 16GB minimum capacity.
These conclusions are based upon new images showing a prototype of the next iPhone’s logic board, as well as a joint analysis undertaken by 9to5Mac and Chipworks, an Ottawa-based company that partners with technology companies across the globe on patent intelligence and competitive technical intelligence needs. Keep an eye out for their usual technical teardown of the new iPhone in September or sign up to be notified here.
New NFC Processor + Noticeable Reduction in Chips:
A new NFC chip inside the iPhone 6S is from NXP and labelled 66VP2, said by Chipworks to be an upgrade from the NXP 65V10 NFC processor found inside the iPhone 6. It’s unclear what the new 66VP2 may change in the iPhone, but it is likely to add a secure element processor, reducing the need for a separate chip. Apple added NFC to the iPhone in 2014 for Apple Pay, but used a part that dated back to 2012; the 66VP2 appears to be a brand new chip.
Along with a slight shrinkage in size of the iPhone 6S’s logic board, Apple also appears to be aggressively reducing the number of chips it’s using. One section of the board that previously had in excess of 10 components has been pared down to 3 main chips, simultaneously cutting the number of parts and increasing the power efficiency of the ones that remain. Other necessary and remaining chips, such as the flash memory and CPU, notably benefit from smaller manufacturing processes that enable the iPhone 6S to offer the same or faster functionality with smaller, less power-hungry parts.
It appears that Apple will preserve a Cirrus Logic audio chip, a Murata Wi-Fi module, and wireless power amplifiers from RFMD, Triquint, Avago and Skyworks within the iPhone 6S. Although the prototype includes what appear to be similar Bosch and InvenSense accelerometer and gyroscope parts to the iPhone 6, ChipWorks speculates that a tiny new alternative from STMicroelectronics could replace it on the final logic board, having debuted in the Apple Watch.
16GB Base Storage Possible:
With the introduction of higher-quality media files and larger applications, iPhone users over the past few years have noted that a 16GB base storage capacity may no longer be large enough for most users. However, it appears that Apple could launch its next iPhone in a 16GB starting capacity, serving as an option priced below higher 64GB and 128GB options.
According to both our analysis and confirmation from Chipworks of the above Toshiba Flash Memory chip, the chip has a 16GB capacity and is built with a 19nm production process. There is a possibility that Apple may not ship this 16GB flash storage option, and was solely using it for early production and test models. Apple has previously tested future iPhone hardware using smaller storage capacities prior to finalizing its production, so a last-minute upgrade to a higher capacity would not be unprecedented. However, Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller recently noted that 16GB is still suitable for many users due to new cloud-based services like iCloud and Apple Music, in addition to iOS 9’s new app-slimming features.
iPhone 6 Design:
We have also separately received purported design drawings from a case maker showing the new iPhone’s external design, corroborating our images from earlier this week that indicate a design essentially identical to that of the current iPhone 6. In line with our comments from earlier this week, these design drawings indicate that the iPhone 6S will likely be fully compatible with most of the existing iPhone 6 accessories on the market.
Apple’s tolerance for measurement differences allows a 0.2mm difference between individual iPhone units, and it appears that the iPhone 6S, at maximum, may be 0.13mm thicker than the iPhone 6. This change would be indiscernible to the human eye, and Apple might not specify any thickness changes when it updates its iPhone technical specifications page in the fall.
In terms of the new 4.7-inch iPhone 6S’s height and width, we’re told there are similarly tiny differences from the current model. The 6S is claimed to be an indiscernible 0.16mm taller than the 6, as well as 0.13mm wider, differences that could be attributable to Apple’s tolerances, or reflective of tiny tweaks to the external casing. A report from last month indicated that the new iPhones could be slightly thicker to accommodate the new panel for Force Touch.