Apple’s Snazzy iPhones Switching to 3-Year Lifecycle: Report

May 31, 2016, 3:01 PM UTC

Apple might use a two-year cycle to launch its revamped iPhones, but that could be changing.

The tech giant has decided to change its major model shakeups to once every three years, Nikkei is reporting, citing people who claim to have knowledge of its plans. The company previously launched major iPhone upgrades every two years.

According to the Nikkei, Apple’s (AAPL) decision is based in part in the realization that the smartphone market is changing more slowly than it had in the past, and its ability to deliver major innovations every two years has been hampered.

While Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report, it follows earlier reports on the company’s plans for the future.

Over the last several weeks, reports have been flying that Apple will not deliver a major iPhone upgrade this year. Instead, the company will reportedly deliver an iPhone 7 with a largely similar design to that of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s as well as some internal component improvements.

Yet those same reports suggest Apple will offer a fully remodeled iPhone featuring an all-glass enclosure and an OLED screen in 2017. The company has previously only offered LCD screens, which are thicker and don’t deliver the same color quality as OLED.

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Since its launch in 2007, the iPhone has come with a regular update schedule. One year, the device has a major new design and is followed the next year by an “S” model that has the same design as the previous version, but comes with component upgrades. Last year was an “S” year, which had many guessing that the 2017 iPhone, believed to be known as the iPhone 7, would come with a major design upgrade.

That said, with the growing number of claims from analysts and unidentified sources that the company has changed plans, and recent leaks of images that purport to show the new iPhone’s design, that appears to not be the case.

What is unclear, however, is how the possible change to a three-year design upgrade could affect Apple’s bottom line. The company has historically had strong sales with each new iPhone, but its major upgrades tend to be its bestsellers. A three-year upgrade could change how the company’s iPhone business performs—good or bad.

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For the first time ever, Apple’s iPhone business was down in its last-reported quarter, shining a bright light for the first time on that division’s performance.

Apple, of course, hasn’t said what its plans are, and it’s unlikely that the secretive iPhone maker will reveal any changes to its future plans. Still, expect the company to talk a bit about the iPhone and its iOS operating system on June 13 when it holds its annual Worldwide Developers Conference keynote.

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