Update: Fed up with Apple’s supersized handsets? Well the iPhone 7 may come with a 4-inch variant after the Cupertino firm lifted the lid on the iPhone SE – an iPhone 6S in an iPhone 5S body.
Looking for the iPhone SE? Then you’ll want our everything you need to know article.
With the iPhone 6S Apple delivered its best handset yet, but aside from sporting some fancy new 3D Touch technology, it was also very similar to the iPhone 6.
That was to be expected – after all, Apple typically only overhauls its handsets once every two years, but that overhaul is due with the iPhone 7, so we’re expecting and hoping for big changes: think a whole new design, piles of power and a bunch of new features.
The leaks, rumors and reports are already ramping up, although the iPhone 7 probably won’t arrive until late 2016. We’ve collected all the latest from around the web and beyond for you below, to give you the clearest picture possible of what you can expect from the new iPhone.
iPhone 7 release date
If we were betting people we’d say the iPhone 7 will probably arrive in September 2016. Apple tends to stick to a schedule, and the last few iPhones have all been launched in the month of September.
But according to a ‘reliable source’ Apple might actually bring it to market earlier. Sadly, how much earlier is unclear, but it will take a while to even finish development and manufacture of the phone, so we wouldn’t expect to see it before the summer.
iPhone 7 design
The iPhone 6S looked a lot like the iPhone 6, but it’s likely to be all-change with the iPhone 7. Exactly what form that change will take remains to be seen, but there are some rumors.
For one thing, it could be even slimmer than the 7.1mm-thick iPhone 6S; Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities reckons it’ll be dropping to between 6mm and 6.5mm thick. That sounds unnecessarily slim to us, especially as it could cause the battery life to take a hit, but the Samsung Galaxy S6 is only marginally thicker at 6.8mm, so it’s possible.
If TSMC makes the chips, as has been rumored, then some space could be saved, which might help Apple slim it down without making sacrifices in other areas.
Another rumor suggests the iPhone 7 will have an all-metal design with a bezeless display. It would be a big change for the iPhone design, but bringing in a new kind of screen technology would be a sensible move for Apple.
The iPhone 7 could be built to last too, as according to Mac Otakara there are a number of iPhone prototypes with “ruggedized” features, which could mean a water and dust-resistant phone is on the way.
Another suggestion of a waterproof iPhone 7 comes from the Apple supplier Japan Display. The supplier has come up with a new technology called “Pixel Eyes”, that is now in its second generation, but it makes it easier to use the screen while you have wet fingers.
That’s always an issue with waterproof phones such as the Sony Xperia Z line, so the fact Apple’s main supplier is looking to stop the problem may be a big hint at what the iPhone 7 will do.
Another report has suggested Apple will opt for a slimmer phone rather than a waterproof iPhone 7. Apple will likely get a new LCD display technology as well, which will allow the iPhone 7 to be 1mm thinner than before.
We could also be in store for the thinnest iPhone ever, as rumors suggesting Apple will ditch the bulky 3.5mm headphone jack grow. That would see a great dependence on Bluetooth headphones, but a new leak also heavily suggests there will also be a pair of special Apple earbuds included in the iPhone 7 box.
A new design tweak rumor which will likely please many suggests Apple will ditch the camera bump which has been present since the iPhone 6/6Plus – with the firm going for a sleeker finish on the iPhone 7. As well as a totally flat rear, it could also be uninterrupted as the same report points towards the removal of the antenna bands.
If the iPhone SE is anything to go by we may be able to wave goodbye to the rear camera bulge we’ve had to deal with for the past two iterations of Apple’s flagship phones.
The SE has managed to squeeze in the same 12MP iSight camera as the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus into its more compact shell, while keeping the lens flush with the metal body. If Apple can do this in such small dimensions, the iPhone 7 should be a walk in the park.
iPhone 7 screen
The iPhone 7 could be in for a big resolution jump if a DigiTimes source is to be believed, as Apple is apparently likely to move to glass-on-glass screens, which in turn opens up the possibility of a QHD or even a 4K display.
A lot of Android phones already have QHD screens, and the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium is 4K, so it’s possible that Apple will pump up the resolution of its next flagship, but given that the iPhone 6S isn’t even 1080p we’re sceptical that it’ll get anywhere near 4K.
If the iPhone 7 does get higher resolution it might get bigger too, especially as rival phones are growing in size all the time. We’re not convinced though – we’d still bet on seeing 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models.
Then there’s the first image of the LCD backlight on the iPhone 7. It comes from trusted French blog NoWhereElse and shows the panel from the iPhone 7 up against the iPhone 6S.
All the connectors are in different locations around the phone suggesting there will be a few design changes on the next iPhone.
A jump in resolution might not be the only way the iPhone 7 imitates Android though, as there’s also talk that it could switch from an LCD display to an OLED one, much like Samsung uses on most of its phones.
One new rumor suggests the iPhone 7S will be the first Apple phone to feature an OLED display. The rumour comes from Apple telling supply chain sources that it will be switching from LCD panels to OLED panels in the next couple of years.
Sadly it doesn’t seem like the technology will be here in time for next year’s iPhone 7 and we’ll have to wait for the iPhone 7S. That said, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has dismissed the rumor, arguing that Apple won’t likely switch to AMOLED before 2019.
The iPhone 7 screen could be hard to smash, as an Apple patent has been unearthed showing bumpers which burst out from the edges of the screen to ensure it doesn’t touch the floor when dropped. Patents often don’t turn into products, but you never know – and it would certainly be nice to see a stronger screen.
3D Touch is bound to make a return, though it’s likely to be improved in some way, perhaps by enabling you to scroll through the previews of content you ‘peek’ into, rather than just having static previews.
iPhone 7 rivals
The iPhone 7 is likely a way off yet, so some of the main rivals haven’t launched yet either. The big one has in the form of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. Both of these phones have received five star reviews on techradar – which we haven’t given out to a phone for two years – so Apple has some serious work to do.
The HTC One M10 is likely to be a worthy alternative to Apple’s handset too. Coming from HTC it’s sure to look good, but little is known about it so far.
There’s also the 4-inch iPhone SE which has arrived with a palm friendly size, 6S specs and an affordable price tag. For those looking for a phone which is managable in one hand, this is the one you want.
iPhone 7 camera and battery
Apple overhauled its camera tech for the iPhone 6S, replacing its old 8MP snapper with a shiny new 12MP one and boosting the front-facing camera up to 5MP.
Given that Apple tends to stick with camera components for a long time we wouldn’t expect to see a change in megapixels for the iPhone 7, but there’s a good chance it will have performance tweaks and additional features to help set it apart. Optical image stabilization perhaps?
A new shot of the rear of the iPhone 7 has appeared and it suggests the camera lens will be slightly bigger as well as a redesigned antenna line on the back. It doesn’t seem to be a dual-camera lens, but it looks much bigger so may mean some big improvements on the camera tech.
A few days after that, a leak of the iPhone 7 chassis design showed the new design for the antennas. It seems Apple may sort out one of the more controversial elements of the design of the iPhone 6S.
As for the iPhone 7 Plus, trusted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo at KGI Securities in Korea believes the larger phone may go for a dual-camera set up. It would allow for optical zoom and give a wider field of view in shots – but it’s not exactly certain why this feature would only be on the phablet version of the iPhone 7.
The analyst also said he believes there may be two versions of the iPhone 7 Plus, one with this camera set up and another without. It’s all just speculation right now, but there may be something in.
As for the battery, there’s no news yet. It was one of the greatest failings of the iPhone 6S, so we’re really hoping for some improvements here. Sadly, though, if the phone does slim down further as is being rumored there’s not much hope of a big juice pack.
iPhone 7 OS and power
The iPhone 7 could be in for a huge performance boost, with whispers on Weibothat the phone will pack a hexa-core A10 chip, up from just a dual-core processor in the iPhone 6S. We’re sceptical that Apple would go for that much of a jump, but it’s an exciting thought.
We’re not likely to see any more RAM in the iPhone 7, as Apple only just pushed the iPhone 6S up to 2GB, so it will likely stick with that for a while yet.
As for the OS, we’d expect to see the iPhone 7 land with iOS 10, since we’re up toiOS 9 on the iPhone 6S. But rumors of what we’ll see in iOS 10 are thin on the ground.
iPhone 7 other features
A whole slew of possible features are apparently in testing for the iPhone 7, with five different prototypes being used to test multi-Force Touch tech, a dual camera, wireless charging, a fingerprint scanner in the screen and a USB Type-C connector that’s compatible with headsets.
That all comes from a post on Chinese social networking site Weibo, but even if it’s true given that there are apparently five different prototypes much of this may not make it into the final phone.
In other rumors the iPhone 7 could have a smaller headphone jack than the iPhone 6S. We’re hesitant to call this a feature, as it’s more a likely annoyance which could be necessary in order to further slim the phone down.
There’s an Apple patent which points to a 2mm connector, down from the standard 3.5mm headphone jack found on most phones. That would certainly help Apple slim the device down, but would also mean you’d either need special headphones or an adapter.
iPhone 7 cost
There aren’t any price rumors yet, but in all likelihood the iPhone 7 will cost roughly what the iPhone 6S currently retails for. That’s specifically US$649/£539/AU$1,079 upwards.
Though if Apple finally ditches the 16GB model the starting price might be even higher.
Phones can always be improved, and we’ve had a few smart ideas for Apple’s next generation iPhone.
From a wider selection of screens and a resolution boost, to expandable storage and a speaker shift, here’s what Apple should do for the iPhone 7.
1. Three screen sizes
Don’t get us wrong, we’re thrilled Apple now has handsets which offer more real estate for your apps and games – but there’s still a pocket of fans who find 5.5 and 4.7 inches simply too big.
But with the recently arrival of the iPhone SE and its 4-inch screen we’re calling on Apple to repeat the trick with the iPhone 7.
We see it as a 4-inch handset with similar stylings to the iPhone 5C, with up to date power under the hood, a 3D Touch display and Touch ID.
2. A resolution your movies and games deserve
You can now record 4K video on the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, but play them back on the handsets and you won’t get the full experience.
With the iPhone 7 it’s time Apple boosted the resolution of its handsets. We’d take a full HD resolution on the 4.7-inch iPhone 7, but if the iPhone 7 Plus turns up with anything less than a QHD screen then us and Apple will be having words.
QHD is now widespread throughout the top tier of Android devices, and we’re even seeing 4K screens sneak onto our smartphones. Don’t get left behind again Apple, please.
3. Wireless charging
Wireless charging remains one of the most frustrating technologies around, because while it’s here, it works and it feels like living in the future, it isn’t as widely supported as we’d like.
An iPhone 7 with wireless charging would be great, especially if the same charger worked for the Apple Watch too. And if it could support both wireless standards as well, like the Galaxy S6, then that would be just swell.
4. Curved displays
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge wowed us with its delightfully curving dual screens earlier this year, and it’s fair to say we’re rather smitten with this futuristic look.
No image such sultry curves on an Apple designed smartphone. We’re going weak at the knees already. Go on Apple, wrap that screen round the edges of the iPhone 7 and we’ll more than likely be in love.
5. No more 16GB models
iOS 8 adoption stalled last year, and we reckon it because people with 16GB iPhones didn’t have enough free space for the 5.7GB over-the-air update and don’t want to use iTunes because, well, iTunes.
The fear is users will experience the same issue when iOS 9 rolls out on September 16, and with no expandable storage option it’s rather limiting.
When your software updates are too big for your entry level products, your entry level products clearly don’t come with enough storage.
How about starting at 32GB for the iPhone 7? We can’t store everything in iCloud, even when it’s working properly.
6. Expandable storage
While we’re on the topic of storage – how about actually giving us some expandable option Apple? It’s something we’ve been asking for for years now, yet our request has continuously fallen on deaf ears over at Cupertino.
Expandable storage would allows us to buy the cheapest iPhone and then supplement the poxy 16GB of space with a microSD card up to 2TB in size. Oh course, than means Apple wouldn’t rake in as much cash for the 64GB and 128GB models – and thus it’s never going to happen.
7. Even better cameras
Apple gave us our first iPhone megapixel camera boost in four years with the 12MP sensor inside the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. But why stop there?
People love using their iPhones to take pictures, Apple can’t tell us that enough, so keep on innovating. 12MP is a good start, but spend some time with the 16MP snapper on the Galaxy S6 and you’ll be seriously impressed.
Of course it’s not all about the number of megapixels, and Apple continues to do great things behind the scenes to improve your snaps.
The Live Photo feature also seems like a little bit of a gimmick at the moment – and similar to the sort of things Samsung was doing on the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S5. If Apple can harness these new found abilities into something more productive on the iPhone 7 that would be impressive.
8. Look ID
Touch ID is great, and it’s got even better on the iPhone 6S with the second generation scanner tech making it more responsive than ever, but we want more.
The iPhone 7 has the chance to take biometrics to the next level, with iris recognition. It won’t be the first to the eye scanning tech (check out the ZTE Axon Elite), but you just know if Apple jumps on board it’ll be slickly implemented and a joy to use.
Want to unlock your new iPhone? Just give it a knowing glance. Need to purchase a new must-have application? Give the iPhone 7 your best Blue Steel and boom, it’s downloading.
Need a name for it? Look ID. You’re welcome, Jony.
9. Speaker shift
With the HTC One M9, Sony Xperia Z5 and Moto X Force all rocking front facing speakers, we’re becoming increasingly frustrated with manufacturers that still insist on putting a single speaker on the base of their handsets. The sound is poor, it’s not projected in the right direction and it’s often covered by a hand when the phone is held in landscape.
For the iPhone 7, Apple needs to shift its speaker location to the front so users can enjoy the audio from their games, movies, TV shows and favorite YouTube videos.
10. An unbreakable screen
Motorola has done it with the Moto X Force, and going by the number of smashed iPhone screens we see on a daily basis this is a must for the iPhone 7.
Stick in a four year guarantee and Apple will win the hearts of many who are disgusted at the firm’s charges for replacing cracked displays.
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