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As July turns to August, it means that summer is winding down — and that new iPhones are imminent.
With an announcement expected during the first or second week of September, we’re now officially in the homestretch — less than 8 weeks away from the big day when rumors turn to vapor or crystalize into reality.
Here’s an updated rundown of the things we may see with the iPhone 7.
Editors’ note: This story was originally posted on December 14, 2015 and has been updated regularly.
iPhone 7: Most-wanted features (pictures)
In recent years, Apple has alternated annually between major design changes and minor upgrades. That’s expected to change in 2016. The overall consensus among analysts and rumor-mongers, supported by many unofficial photos and videos leaked during the past few months, is that for the second year in a row we’re likely to see mostly modest, superficial changes — call it the “iPhone 6SS,” if you will.
Perhaps the most dramatic change still in play would be the addition of a rumored third “Pro” model. According to multiple sources, Apple’s portfolio, which was already extended to include the new SE model in March 2016, may soon include an iPhone 7, an iPhone 7 Plus — and an iPhone 7 Pro. Leaked photos that first surfaced in July 2016 on Nowhereelse.fr appear to show three such different models. But recent rumors have suggested that Apple will probably stick with only two models.
Purported photos of three versions of the forthcoming iPhone 7. Credit: Nowhereelse.fr.
The other biggie involves the 3.5mm headphone jack — which has been MIA in many recently leaked photos. The thought is that Apple, always pushing the envelope on killing off legacy ports and media, is removing the one that even predates the 1979 Sony Walkman.
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. (Like most other phones, you could use the iPhone 7 with any existing Bluetooth headphones or speakers, too.)
Best wireless Bluetooth headphones for iPhone 7
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.
Otherwise, the exterior changes are expected to be rather minimal — similar to identical screen sizes and bezels, and the familiar home button below the screen. Even if Apple expands the line as shown in the photo above, they all look pretty much like clones of the iPhone 6 /6S and 6/6S Plus.
- Will the camera lens grow larger, or perhaps even double up, with the iPhone 7?
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).
Since then, a steady stream of sources have bolstered the dual lens rumor. According to the rumors, the dual camera would likely be included on the 5.5-inch-screen iPhone 7 Plus and/or Pro, but probably not the standard 4.7-inch-screen iPhone 7.
Steve Hemmerstoffer (aka @OnLeaks ) of
Nowhereelse.fr, who has a good track record of leaking things that turn out to be true, tweeted that a reliable source revealed that the iPhone 7 will receive a healthy battery upgrade.
He 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.
A redesigned home button was one of the most active topics in the early iPhone 7 prediction conversation. As late as June, analysts at Cowen and Company were predicting that the iPhone 7 would have a “Force Touch” home button. According to Business Insider’s coverage of the report, “Instead of a physical mechanism, Apple will use its ‘Force Touch’ technology and a motor inside the iPhone to provide the sensation that the button is being physically depressed.”
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.
In June, BGR reported that Chinese shopping site Weibo had posted prices for three iPhone 7 models, with storage tiers starting at 32GB; the current entry-level iPhone models start at a paltry 16GB. That rumor was effectively confirmed by The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern on July 5.
Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June left behind a decent trail of clues, with plenty of new features coming down the pike. Siri, photos, maps, and especially the Messages app have all been upgraded. iOS 10 is available only to developers at the moment; the official release is expected to come this fall, likely coinciding with the release of the forthcoming iPhone 7. (Click here for the complete scoop on iOS 10.)
iOS 10 beta’s best parts
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.