Apple to extend iPhone’s product cycle

SILICON VALLEY — Apple will likely take three years between full-model changes of its iPhone devices, a year longer than the current cycle. In a typical two-year term, fall 2016 was supposed to see a major upgrade. But the changes on the model to be launched this autumn will be minor, such as improved camera quality.

The move is largely due to smartphone functions having little room left for major enhancements. A slowing market is another factor.

Less frequent redesigns will significantly affect large-lot suppliers in Japan, Taiwan and other parts of Asia because of their heavy reliance on iPhone manufacturing.

The new version slated for this autumn will look almost identical to the current iPhone 6. Functions such as the camera, water resistance and battery capacity will likely be improved, and the headphone jack will be removed. Also, a high-end version of the model will give users better-quality photo capabilities via correction functions.

Apple sold some 230 million handsets in 2015, but unit sales will likely be less this year. According to Apple’s production schedules provided to suppliers, the company is not expecting to sell more iPhones than last year.

On the other hand, the 2017 model will likely involve major enhancements and design changes, including adoption of an organic electroluminescent display. The new device will also be able to create more complex tactile vibrations on the display because of a tiny, but high-performance motor equipped inside.

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