UPDATED: Analyst drops some last-minute predictions about new colour finishes and more
Apple’s September iPhone 7 launch feels like a long way off, but any seasoned gadget fan knows that the rumour mill will only pick up steam as each day passes.
As always, it’s best to take the rumours with a pinch of salt, but they’re still useful in painting a rough picture of what we can expect to see come launch day.
We’ll be updating this preview with all the latest news, as and when we get it, so don’t forget to check back for your regular iFix.
APPLE IPHONE 7 DESIGN: HIT THE ROAD, JACK
Given that the iPhone 7 is coming off the back of an ’s’ version, we expect to see some design changes.
It’ll come as no surprise to hear that the iPhone 7 is expected to be even thinner than the current 7.1mm iPhone 6s, and analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reckons Apple could trim down its new handset to as little as 6mm, and newer reports point to a 6.1mm-thin body.
If true, then we’re concerned that the battery capacity won’t be up to scratch, even with Apple’s expected optimisations, though it’ll undoubtedly look and feel beautiful.
The iPhone 7’s incredible slenderness is reportedly down to a thinner Lightning port, and the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack, so we’ll have to wait and see if Apple really does have the guts to axe such a well-established port, forcing people to snap up Bluetooth or Lightning port-compatible headphones.
It sounds ridiculous, but multiple sources have predicted the death of the headphone jack, so we’ll have to wait and see if Apple really does have the guts to axe such a well-established port.
According to rumour blog Mac Okatara, sources at Taiwan’s Computex Taipei 2016 tech expo have claimed that while the 3.5mm socket is indeed leaving the next iPhone, the phone will still come supplied with the current set of EarPod 3.5mm headphones. You’ll be able to plug these (or any standard headphones) in via a 3.5-to-Lightning adapter, also supplied in the iPhone’s box.
The report also claims that the space previously occupied by the 3.5mm jack will be used for an extra speaker grille, giving the iPhone 7 two grilles on its bottom edge. It cautions that the speaker output will remain monaural rather than stereo, though, before you start planning your first iPhone 7-based disco.
Shared via BGR, the images not only reveal that the iPhone 7 Plus looks darn good in a dark outfit, they also confirm a number of the leaks and rumours already floating around.
Clearly visible in the images is the suggested 3-dot Smart Connector, as well as the absent headphone jack and dual-lens camera bump on the back.
These newest pictures seem to indicate a two-speaker setup on the bottom of the device, too – especially as a dummy grill seems an unlikely design decision.
Are the snaps real? Prior form would suggest so – and, if not, they’re highly convincing fakes.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, in an investor report released mere days before Apple’s event, believes there will be five colour options in all: the current silver, gold and rose gold finishes, and two new black finishes. One will be a “dark black” (presumably the Space Black colour mentioned above) while the other will be a high-gloss “piano black”.
APPLE IPHONE 7 NAME: MAGNIFICENT SEVEN?
Apple has consistently followed its number > number-with-an-6-on-the-end approach to iPhone naming since the iPhone 3G way back in 2008, and it’s unlikely to change now.
Accordingly, we’re pretty sure the iPhone 6s’ successor will be called the iPhone 7.
There is some debate around what the Plus version will be called though. Ever since the iPad Pro arrived, we’ve heard whispers that an iPhone 7 Pro could be on the cards. That would definitely make it clear the bigger phone is a very different beast from the vanilla iPhone 7.
It’s pretty unlikely, but Apple could decide to shake up its entire naming convention, dropping numbers completely and just having “iPhone” and “iPhone Pro”, like it has MacBook and MacBook Pro. Of course, there’s still the MacBook Air…
Clearly anything could happen at September’s launch event – we’ll just have to wait until then (or for a better leak) to put an official name on both new phones.
APPLE IPHONE 7 SCREEN: MORE PIXELS?
We don’t see Apple straying from the 4.7in screen size that currently graces the Phone 6s. What we could (hopefully) see however, is an increase in the resolution, to at least 2K.
Apple has lagged behind its Android rivals in the resolution wars for quite some time now, and we imagine that iPhone 7 will finally be the handset that catches up.
While Apple has also had links to producing OLED iPhone displays, analysts originally didn’t expect them to feature in Apple handsets earlier than the iPhone 8. However, an 18 June report from Nikkei says some OLED Apple devices may arrive in 2017, and that Samsung has ramped up its OLED panel production in order to supply these (yes, despite the companies’ bitter rivalry, Samsung does supply Apple with vital components). So don’t be too shocked if the iPhone 7 ends up being the first OLED iPhone.
3D Touch will of course be sticking around too, hopefully reaching its full potential by the time the iPhone 7 release date rolls around. Get cracking, developers.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that the screen will offer the same wide colour gamut technology as the 9.7in iPad Pro. This will improve the look of images, he says, particularly photographs taken with the on-board camera.
APPLE IPHONE 7 BUILD: A NEW TOUCH ID BUTTON?
While the Touch ID fingerprint sensor is sure to return, it may do so in a somewhat different guise. Analysts at Cowen & Company (as reported by AppleInsider) claim the old physical Touch ID button will be tossed out and replaced by a solid state capacitive component – essentially a touch-sensitive panel. There’s speculation that this may use Force Touch-style haptics to simulate the feel of pressing a mechanical button.
Some feel, however, that this new button is more likely to show up in the iPhone 7’s successor – Apple’s 2017 model.
However, on 8 August, Bloomberg News published a report claiming “people familiar with the matter” have confirmed that the updated, haptics-equipped Touch ID button will indeed appear on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The report claims that this, along with the dual-camera system (see below), will be one of the iPhone 7’s “standout features”.
APPLE IPHONE 7 CAMERA: TWICE AS NICE
Given how long it took Apple to move on from an 8-megapixel camera to a 12-megapixel one, we doubt we’ll see another increase this time round.
That’s not to say that we won’t see other improvements though. We could see an increase in the sensor size and aperture, which would provide improved performance in low-light conditions. It would also be nice if the iPhone 7 had optical image stabilisation, as currently that’s a feature that remains exclusive to the larger Plus brother.
More excitingly still, a patent filing also points to the addition of a second rear camera lens. One lens could have an increased focal depth, resulting in digital zoom that won’t pixellate your shots to death. Simultaneous 4K and 1080p footage could also be captured, with one lens focusing on slow-motion video during the shoot.
One leak suggests that this second rear camera will be featured on the iPhone 7 Plus only. Whether this is down to size constraints or simply the fact that Apple is pushing the Plus version as the more premium device, is unknown, but we have seen Apple do the same thing with optical image stabilisation – a feature which was limited to the iPhone 6 Plus.
Bloomberg News’ 8 August report claims sources have confirmed that only the iPhone 7 Plus will feature the dual-camera setup. The report states that, according to a person that has used a prototype version of the device, each of the camera sensors in the setup captures colours differently; when a picture is taken, the two images are merged by software into a single, final photograph. The person said the setup both improves low light photography, and allows users to retain more clarity when using the digital zoom.
On 20 June, Chinese repair site Rock Fix (as seen on Pocketnow) posted photographs of possible iPhone 7 parts, including a dual-lens camera module.
Rock Fix also showed off a pic of a dual SIM tray – again, something we haven’t previously seen on an iPhone. Dual SIM setups are popular in China, so it’s possible that this would be an option for the Far East market only.
An investor report from historically reliable industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo states that the dual camera will feature one wide angle camera and one telephoto camera, which will allow users to “zoom” in on subjects, as well as offer Lytro-style post-exposure focus control. He believes both cameras will have 12MP sensors.
He also states that the camera’s True Tone flash will use four LEDs rather than the current two – two warm, two cool. Is that an attempt by Apple to improve the power and reach of the flash?
APPLE IPHONE 7 PERFORMANCE: POWER IN SPADES
It should come as no surprise to you when we say that the iPhone 7 will be the most powerful iPhone to date.
Apple has increased the power of each and every successive handset, and the iPhone 7 could really up the ante with a hexa-core A10 chip, at least according to the folks over at Chinese site Weibo.
It’s unlikely that we’ll see a RAM increase, given Apple’s past history of slow memory upgrades, but that hasn’t stopped analyst Ming-Chi Kuo from predicting that the iPhone 7 Plus will have an extra boost to 3GB of RAM. Kuo also believes that the A10 processor may be clocked at 2.4 or 2.45GHz, which is quite a jump over the iPhone 6s’ 1.85GHz A9.
All that power should be more than enough to keep the as-of-yet unreleased iOS 9 moving along, although there’s been little information on what new features the new OS will bring, at this time.
APPLE IPHONE 7 STORAGE: MACBOOK-BEATING CAPACITY
The same Rock Fix leak that showed off the dual-camera module also gave us a peep at a 256GB SanDisk-made flash storage drive, and Mac Otakara has also posited that a 256GB option will be available.
More recently still, Digitimes cited “industry sources” as reporting that NAND flash providers are increasing their prices courtesy of increased demand – most of which is coming from Apple. That’s right: yet another source reckons the iPhone 7 will pack 256GB of on-board storage, aping the Samsung Galaxy Note 7’s 64GB – and that of many a MacBook.
That’d be the biggest storage yet on an iPhone, and, given Apple’s disdain for expandable storage, in our mind the most likely way for the iPhone to keep up with roomier rivals.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also believes there will be a 256GB option, and that the others will be 32GB and 128GB – which means it’s time to wave bye-bye to the basic 16GB iPhone. And, let’s be honest, it’s not before time.
APPLE IPHONE 7 PRICE AND RELEASE DATE
The iPhone 7 should roughly be priced at around the same £540 price as the existing base model iPhone 6s, but that price could still fluctuate either way. The iPhone 7 Plus is a bit more difficult to nail down, because of those rumoured extra features. Two cameras cost twice as much to make, after all.
Apple likes to keep prices relatively stable between generations, though, so it might take the hit and match the iPhone 6S price at launch.
As usual, we expect Apple to reveal the new iPhone in the second week of September, with an actual release date set for around two weeks after.
Update 25/07: Serial leaker @evleaks has revealed that the iPhone 7 (and, indeed, the iPhone 7 Plus) will hit shelves on the “… week of September 12th”.
Given that new iPhones traditionally launch on a Friday, it’s a pretty safe bet to assume that the actual release date will therefore be 16 September. Still, until we get an invite from Apple and watch Tim Cook and co. take the stage, we’re still going to swallow this all with unhealthy amount of salt.
Update 29/07: In a follow-up tweet, @evleaks says he has “confirmed” that the iPhone 7 will be available to pre-order from 9 September. So 16 September – exactly one week later – could definitely work as the on-sale date.
Update 12/08: Bloomberg reports that Apple will be holding an event on 7 September to introduce its new iPhone range to the world. Given the source’s reputation, we’re quite prepared to believe that this is indeed the case.
Update 29/08: It’s official! Well, something is official, and it’s probably an iPhone 7: Apple has just announced an event for 7 September, as Bloomberg had previously reported. The invite simply says, “See you on the 7th,” and has a camera bokeh effect (seemingly of the top of the Apple logo) on the backdrop.
As widely reported and detailed above, the iPhone 7 – or at least the Plus model, if not both – is expected to feature a new dual-camera system that allows for more tricks and technique, so this seems like a nod in that direction.
We may also see a new Apple Watch at the event, as well as new MacBook Pro models, but the star of the show is sure to be the iPhone 7 – or whatever it’s called this time around. We’ll find out soon just how much of the rumour mill fodder was spot on this time around.