If Apple changed the cycle once, it can certainly change it again. But it won't do so lightly: an unexpectedly early upgrade is always infuriating for those who've just bought the previous generation model, and it creates the suspicion that the company might pull a similar trick the following year, leading to a customer base that is more cautious about upgrading. What's more, Apple's natural cycle of announcements sees iOS and OS X upgrades announced at WWDC in June, leaving enough time for the software to be completed in time for the autumn hardware launches. It seems like a risk for Apple to announce everything in the summer and leave its customers hungry for new releases for the rest of the year.
And the reasoning for why Apple would push forward the iPhone 7 launch date is thin.
"This year's iPhone 6s upgrade features largely the same external design as the iPhone 6," argues AppleInsider. "That has prompted concerns among investors that demand for the iPhone 6s could wane, particularly toward the tail end of the product cycle... Launching the iPhone 7 in an earlier window of 2016 would be one way for Apple to address those concerns."
The thing is, every S-class iPhone upgrade has been accused of offering only minor upgrades on the previous generation, yet they all still sell well. And if anything the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus represent more significant upgrades than the iPhone 4s and iPhone 5s did: Live Photos is fun, 3D Touch has the potential to alter the way we think about smartphone interfaces, and the processor and cameras are much improved. Even Touch ID is noticeably quicker.
So while this isn't out of the question, we can't see that any convincing reason has been given why Apple should shift its update schedule next year.
iPhone 7 launch date rumours: Two iPhones a year
So much for the likely launch date. But it's possible - and has been widely speculated - that Apple will begin releasing new iPhones twice a year, to help it keep up with the ever growing and ever improving competition. This would mean an iPhone launch event in the spring of 2015 followed by another in the autumn.
In this case we would expect less dramatic enhancements in each update: perhaps the full iPhone 7 in autumn, followed by an 'S'-class update in the spring. Or Apple might choose to update its 4-inch smartphones in one set of announcements and its larger phones in the other.
It's an interesting theory, but if we were betting men and women Macworld would put its money on September iPhone launches for some time to come.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.