August 9, 2016 update: New iPhones are imminent. The most reliable predictions suggest that Apple will officially announce the iPhone 7 during the first week of September, with a retail release following on Friday, September 16. (This information comes from veteran leaker Evan Blass).
|A purported black iPhone 7 on the left,
with the Space Gray option on the right.
And with just a few weeks to go, the leaks continue to dribble in. Writing for Bloomberg, Mark Gurman reports that Apple has replaced the iPhone’s traditional home button with “a pressure-sensitive” variant that features “haptic feedback,” similar to the “Force Click” touch pad included on the latest model MacBooks. Gurman also confirms that the higher-end Plus model will come equipped with dual cameras that take brighter, more detailed photos; that the iPhone 7 will have two speakers, making it the first stereo speaker iPhone; and that it will come in the same Space Black color available on the Apple Watch.
Earlier reports has it that the iPhone 7 will come without a traditional 3.5mm headphone jack; ostensibly, we’ll soon be using a new generation of Lightning-connected headphones or a 3.5mm-to-Lightning adaptor.
In recent years, Apple has alternated annually between major design changes and minor upgrades. That’s expected to change in 2016.
Perhaps the most dramatic change still in play would be the addition of a rumored third “Pro” model. So we may be looking at a 3 set; iPhone 7, an iPhone 7 Plus — and an iPhone 7 Pro
The other biggie involves the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack — If true — and we’re betting it is — it leaves a few options on the table. Apple could bundle new Lightning-tipped EarPod headphones (or sell them separately). Or it could throw in a Lightning-to-minijack adapter, as Motorola is doing with its Moto Z (which has only a USB-C port). And, of course, since Apple owns Beats, you can expect some fancy new wireless PowerBeats to arrive alongside iPhone 7, too.
Ditching the headphone jack would also leave room for a second speaker grille, which has appeared on other leaked photos. That would allow the iPhone 7 to be the first model with true stereo sound.
Many sources are expecting a significant step up in quality with the iPhone 7’s camera. In mid-March 2016, Taiwanese site Apple.club.tw posted what it says are images of a dual-camera module that it says will be included on the iPhone 7 Plus. The LG G5 and Huawei P9 already sports dual rear cameras, which offer more flexible photography options (including wider angle shots).
Steve Hemmerstoffer (aka @OnLeaks) of Nowhereelse.fr reports that Apple will upgrade the iPhone 7 battery to 1,960mAh (from the iPhone 6S’s would go from 1,715mAh), which translates into a 14 percent bump in capacity. It’s unclear how much of a battery life bump that will ultimately give you, but that translates to 90 minutes more video playback time — 12.5 hours versus 11 hours — if you do the math using Apple’s iPhone 6S stats.
Another possible advantage of the new iPhone may be full waterproofing. (That may be a side benefit of losing the headphone jack and getting a flush home button.) While many Samsung Galaxy phones have been dunk-proof for years, it would certainly be a welcome feature on the iPhone.
On the component front, an analyst firm has predicted that the iPhone 7 will support a whopping 256GB of storage space, matching the iPad Pro and offering lots more room for apps and videos. The firm, Trendforce, also predicts that the phone will get a memory boost to 3GB in the 5.5-inch model.
The next generation of Apple’s mobile operating system will include increased 3D Touch integration, pickup-to-wakeup, in-notification responses, more detailed notifications, faster access to apps and widgets from the lock screen, and live video in notifications. Calling improvements will include an extension API for filtering out phone spam, and the addition of VoIP calling. Messages will support rich content (such as link expansion and video building), bigger emoji with predictions, an in-app camera, scalable text, invisible ink and handwriting and sketches. And Apple will roll out object and scene recognition for Photos, and using AI to cluster photos by relevance.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo at KGI Securities has predicted that Apple will revamp its 2017 lineup to include an iPhone with a curved display. According to his story, the screen will be based on active matrix organic light-emitting diode, or AMOLED, which offer several advantages over the LCD (liquid crystal display) screens currently used in iPhones. Earlier reports predicted that Apple would switch to OLED displays in 2018. Either way, this would likely debut on whatever model succeeds the iPhone 7.
And 9to5mac.com has reported that in 2015 Apple filed a patent for a transparent fingerprint sensor embedded into a smartphone display. First published in May 2015, the patent application outlines three sensor technologies, including “ultrasonic imaging” that could be embedded into a display and deliver greater accuracy than the current iPhone’s Touch ID capacitive sensor. It’s unlikely that the technology will be ready for the iPhone 7, but the following model could plausibly be the first to do away with the venerable physical home button — though LG might beat Apple to the punch.
One other story that has surfaced involves the possibility of the generation after the iPhone 7 supporting wireless charging; Barclays analyst Mark Moskowitz has predicted that Apple reserve this innovation for what he has called the iPhone 8. The Verge reports that Apple has been staffing up on wireless charging experts, including a couple from wireless charging startup uBeam, and has hired more than a dozen overall in the last two years.