Apple's iPhone 6s optimism may reflect better camera ahead

Apple is telling suppliers to produce a record number of next-gen iPhones even though the hardware isn't going to change much. Perhaps a camera with more megapixels can keep the upgrade cycle rolling.

Apple is reportedly optimistic that demand for its next line of iPhones will be so strong that it'll justify a record production run with what is expected to be modest hardware changes.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple is asking its suppliers to make between 85 million and 90 million of the next-gen iPhones, which will have the same screen sizes as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

As Kevin Tofel noted, there's obvious demand for large screen iPhones and Apple appears to be thumping Samsung, which didn't get the Galaxy S6 bump it needed.

But I'd argue that Apple's optimistic production run has more to do with the hardware change everyone would want---a camera with more megapixels. Sure, Apple has software that sort of justifies its quality claims with 8 MP, but anyone who has tried to blow up an iPhone photo knows you're hosed.

The reality is that megapixels do matter and Apple can't stick with the 8MP game plan forever. You could argue that Apple has already stayed with a 8MP camera too long considering Android devices have double the megapixels in many cases.

Add it up and Apple apparently has a two-year catch-up plan to thump Samsung.

Year one: Match Samsung's large-screen play and take away the thing that kept people on Android. Enter the 4.7- and 5.5-inch screen iPhones.

Year two (coming with the iPhone 6s): Take away Samsung's camera edge and match the megapixels. Samsung regularly touts that the camera in its Galaxy line cribs technology from its standalone cameras. Apple can counter with more megapixels and argue that it's more of a DSLR replacement.

Here's a look at Samsung's camera pitch.

samsung-camera-vs-iphone.png

Yes, Apple may add other features that'll matter. But the camera will matter the most and spur upgrades. If Apple delivers on the camera perhaps it'll justify its production runs.