Apple iPhone 6S
Apple's next iPhone could sport a number of new features, while retaining a shell similar to that of the iPhone 6. Reuters

The next Apple iPhone, likely to be called the iPhone 6S on release date, is starting to shape up as the device’s rumored specs and features continue to pile up. The latest additions to the growing wish list are hinted by a new concept and a recently published Apple patent.

It should be noted, however, that device renders and freshly introduced technologies are not solid indicators of the actual iPhone package that Apple will unleash later. At best, they offer snapshots of the likely upgrades that will make the final cut.

Expanded Home Key Functions

When KGI Securities analyst Ming-chi Kou revealed that the Force Touch screen sensor is coming on board with the 6S, speculation popped up that the iPhone front panel will be subjected to a major revision. The change would likely render the Home button redundant so it could be sent to retirement.

But Business Insider reported that the iconic iPhone control key, a mainstay since the first iPhone rolled out in 2007, will not disappear anytime soon. The navigational button, in fact, is lined up for an upgrade if a newly published Apple patent is to be the basis.

The patent document revealed that in future iterations the iPhone Home key will gain more functions that will extend its current power features. For instance, the Touch ID fingerprint scanner will pad up its main purpose of providing robust security and convenience to users. The feature will be the gateway to mobile device functionalities that are exclusive to a given iPhone owner.

Paper-Thin 4-inch iPhone 6C

Now with or without changes in the Home key, concept designer SET Solution is convinced that the function button is part of the 2015 iPhone line up -- including the 4-inch edition, a rendering of which is being proposed by the group. The small-profile iPhone 6C, as visualized by SET (and viewable here), is premium and sexy rolled into one gadget.

The specs are top-tier: The 4-inch panel is packed with screen pixels at 1080-pixel resolution while the rear camera is equipped at 13 megapixels. Now that is close enough to the recent report that for its main shooter, the next iPhone is going 12 MP, though with smaller pixels. It appears likewise that the return of the 4-inch iPhone will come with a sexy shell as the device thinness measured a mere 4.3-millimeter.

The SET concept, however, runs counter to Kuo’s recent claims that the 4-inch variant will not be part of the 2015 iPhone 6S release date plans by Apple -- at least not this year, the trusted Apple insider noted.

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