iPhone 7: Coming in 2016, Everything We Know - MacRumors
What We Expect
What We Expect
Case Leaks and Renderings
No Headphone Jack
iPhone 7 vs. iPhone 7 Plus vs. "iPhone Pro"
Dual-Lens Camera Details
EMI Shielding and Chip Packaging
Beyond the iPhone 7
iPhone 7 Timeline
Apple won't release its next-generation iPhone until the fall of 2016, so there are still months of development ahead. For the current time, Apple's flagship iPhones are the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus, released to the public in September of 2015.
Though it will be several months before the new iPhone launches, rumors about the device started trickling out in January of 2016. We've already gleaned many details about the upcoming iPhone, giving us some information on what to expect when it launches.
Since the 3GS launched in 2009, Apple has used an alternating "S" naming formula to mark years where the iPhone does not receive a major redesign, saving its numbered upgrades for years where design changes are introduced. Releases have been as follows:
2007 - iPhone
2008 - iPhone 3G
2009 - iPhone 3GS
2010 - iPhone 4 (new design)
2011 - iPhone 4s
2012 - iPhone 5 (new design)
2013 - iPhone 5s
2014 - iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (new design)
2015 - iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus
The next-generation iPhone is expected to be called the iPhone 7. 2015 marked an "S" iPhone upgrade year that introduced new features such as an improved camera and a better processor, but 2016 will bring an even-year upgrade that will include an all-new iPhone design in addition to new features.
Apple will continue releasing two versions of each iPhone, so we can expect to see an iPhone 7 and an iPhone 7 Plus in 2016. Apple is said to be planning to stick to the 4.7- and 5.5-inch screen sizes it first introduced with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
Apple is still working on finalizing the iPhone 7's body so we don't know exactly what it will look like, but multiple rumors suggest it continues to use a design similar to the design of the iPhone 6s. It is said to have the same general shape, but it may have a camera that protrudes less (though rumors currently disagree on this point). Antenna bands across the back of the device have been removed, but are expected to remain at the top, bottom, and sides of the iPhone.
Mockup of iPhone 7 case showing possible flush rear camera and no antenna bands across rear.
Some rumors suggest Apple is aiming to make the iPhone 7 thinner, perhaps through the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack and the implementation of a thinner Lightning port, but other rumors suggest the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will have a body that is the same thickness as the iPhone 6s.
With no headphone jack, wired headphones will connect to the iPhone 7 using its Lightning port and Bluetooth headphones will connect wirelessly. Apple is rumored to be working on Lightning-equipped EarPods to sell alongside the iPhone 7.
Apple may be planning replace the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 with a second speaker for stereo audio, but there has been some contention over this rumor.
An image of a device said to be the iPhone 7 Plus has surfaced depicting a Smart Connector on the back of the shell, suggesting that is another potential feature, but it is not yet clear what it would be used for.
Internal specs for the iPhone 7 aren't yet known, but we can speculate Apple will continue on its path of introducing more powerful, efficient devices with each design iteration. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are expected to include next-generation A10 processors manufactured by TSMC.
There are rumored to be some distinguishing features between the iPhone 7 and the larger-screened iPhone 7 Plus. The iPhone 7 may ship with 2GB RAM, while the iPhone 7 Plus could include 3GB RAM, and there is said to be a different camera system in the iPhone 7 Plus that uses two cameras instead of one. The iPhone 7 will likely continue to use a standard single-lens camera as multiple sources have said the dual lens camera is exclusive to the 5.5-inch iPhone.
According to rumors, Apple may actually be planning to introduce two versions of the iPhone 7 Plus -- one with a single lens like the iPhone 7 and a second with a dual-lens camera system that offers DSLR-like image quality with 2-3x optical zoom and improved performance in low light conditions.
We at MacRumors have created a video mockup that outlines what a dual-camera interface could look like in the Camera app on the iPhone, based on a recent Apple patent. In the patent, Apple outlines a split-screen interface with one side displaying the standard view from a wide-angle camera and another side displaying a zoomed-in view from an additional lens with a longer focal length. Pictures and video could be captured with both views simultaneously.
As for the camera in the iPhone 7 and the rumored single-lens iPhone 7 Plus, there's no word on what improvements may be introduced. If a version of the iPhone 7 Plus is set to see major gains in image quality, it stands to reason the iPhone 7 and/or the standard-lens iPhone 7 Plus will also see significant improvement, even if it is implemented outside of a dual-lens system. A rendering of an iPhone said to be the iPhone 7 depicts a larger camera cutout, perhaps to accommodate an improved sensor.
According to another prediction from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus may have differing amounts of RAM. The smaller 4.7-inch iPhone 7 may ship with 2GB of RAM, while the larger 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus may ship with 3GB RAM.
Storage space may also be a differentiating factor between the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus. An unconfirmed rumor suggests the larger iPhone 7 Plus could include a high-end 256GB storage option that would not be available with the iPhone 7. 256GB is a capacity that is not offered in any of Apple's current iOS devices, so it is questionable as to whether Apple would introduce such a high-capacity iPhone, but a256GB SanDisk flash storage chip possibly appropriate for use in an iPhone has been spotted. The rumor did not include a mention of other storage tiers that would be available for the two devices.
With the Lightning port being used for music playback, there will be no way to charge the iPhone 7 while headphones are plugged in, which has sparked some speculation about wireless charging. According to one rumor, Apple is exploring wireless charging technology that could potentially be included in the iPhone 7.
While Apple is said to be looking into wireless charging for the iPhone 7, there is no guarantee the feature will make it into the finished product. It is also not clear what method Apple would use to implement wireless charging.
Apple may source some LTE modems for the iPhone 7 from Intel, perhaps adopting the Intel 7360 LTE modem and introducing faster LTE speeds on the device. The chip features faster theoretical downlink speeds of up to 450 MB/s, uplink speeds of up to 100 MB/s, and support for LTE category 10 and 29 bands.
Battery life in the iPhone 7 could be similar to or slightly better than battery life in the iPhone 6s. An image of the battery said to be for the iPhone 7 lists a capacity of 7.04 watt-hours, almost identical to the iPhone 6 which had a 7.01 watt-hour battery that was a bit larger than the 6.61 watt-hour battery in the iPhone 6s.
Apple is rumored to be working on AMOLED displays for future iPhones, but the technology will not be ready for the iPhone 7. The iPhone 7 will continue to use the same TFT-LCD display technology used in the iPhone 6s.
Based on display improvements introduced in the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, DisplayMate's Ray Soneira speculatesthe iPhone 7 display could include similar features, as Apple often expands display advancements across its entire product lineup.
He believes improvements could potentially include the DCI-P3 Wide Color gamut, introducing more vivid, true-to-life colors, and an improved anti-reflection coating to lower screen reflectance for better performance in high ambient light. True Tone, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro feature that adjusts the color temperature of the display to match ambient lighting, could also potentially be included if Apple "upgrades the ambient light sensors so they measure color in addition to brightness." A rumor from Mac Otakarasuggests the iPhone 7 will include two new sensors on the front of the device, which could potentially be related to True Tone display capabilities.
EMI SHIELDING AND CHIP PACKAGING
Apple is planning to implement improved electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding techniques in the iPhone 7, with the goal of individually shielding most of the major chips in the device. EMI shields are used in iPhones and all other electronic devices to prevent wireless interference between different products.
Improved EMI shielding will perhaps allow Apple to place the various chips in the iPhone 7 closer together, allowing it to shrink down the device or leave room for new components or a larger battery. This could be one of the ways the company will find extra space to make the iPhone 7 thinner than the iPhone 6s.
Apple is said to be planning to use a new fan-out packaging technology for the antenna switching module and radio frequency chip in the iPhone 7, which is a feature that allows the iPhone to switch between LTE and other antennas like GSM and CDMA. Fan-out packaging technology allows for a greater number of I/O terminals while cutting down on chip size.
Using this packaging method, along with single-chip EMI shields, Apple will be able to fit more components into a single package while minimizing signal loss and also cutting down on the potential for interference in wireless communication.
Apple typically introduces its new flagship iPhones in the fall during the month of September, and it's likely the company will continue to use the same release pattern for the iPhone 7. We expect to see the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus debut in the fall of 2016.
Beyond the iPhone 7
The iPhone 7 hasn't launched yet, but we're already hearing rumors about iPhones that will be released in 2017 and beyond. Apple is said to be working on flexible OLED displays for future versions of the iPhone, ata secret lab it's opened in Taiwan. Apple is also developing more advanced versions of liquid crystal displays, working on a technology called Micro-LED.
Starting in late 2015, Apple began pursuing OLED partnerships with LG Display and Samsung. Apple ultimately inked a deal with Samsung in April of 2016 that will see Samsung providing 5.5-inch OLED display panels to Apple for future iPhones.
Rumors also suggest Apple may also be planning to invest in AMOLED supplier AU Optronics as a source of displays for future iPhones, indicating Apple is pursuing multiple options for next-generation display technology.
Both OLED and Micro-LED technologies eliminate the need for the backlighting that's used in traditional LCDs, which would potentially allow Apple to cut down on the size of its iOS devices. Micro-LED suffers from low yields and OLED has a shorter life span, so they are both technologies that are not quite ready for near-future iPhone upgrades.
Rumors originally said Apple would introduce OLED displays in 2018, but its plans may have been pushed up. Apple may now be aiming to introduce the first OLED displays in iPhones at the end of 2017 instead of 2018.
Rumors suggest a 2017 or 2018 iPhone could include a 5.8-inch OLED display. One display expert speculates that this screen size could be used for an iPhone with a wraparound screen.
When applied to the height of an existing 5.5-inch iPhone, a 5.8-inch display like the one Apple is rumored to be working on would leave an extra 7.25mm of display on each side that could be used to wrap around the edges of the device. This would extend the display across the front and sides of the iPhone, perhaps enabling side-based gestures and buttons. We don't know what shape an iPhone with side bars could take, but the rumored 5.8-inch size of the display is about right to add side panels to current-generation iPhones.
The 2017 OLED display rumors and the 5.8-inch screen have been seconded by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who often has reliable information on Apple's plans. According to Kuo, the 2017 iPhone will introduce a 5.8-inch curved glass AMOLED display paired with a curved glass casing.
Apple is said to be planning to move away from an all-aluminum body, readopting the glass-backed design used in the iPhone 4 and the 4s and taking it "to the next level." A return to a glass body will allow Apple to differentiate itself from competitors who have largely switched over to aluminum. Kuo does not believe this will heavily impact weight and durability, with weight additions mitigated through the adoption of a slimmer OLED display. Wireless charging and biometric recognitions (facial are iris) are also features Kuo is predicting for the 2017 iPhone.
Based on AMOLED display availability, Kuo outlines two possible release scenarios. With sufficient supplies, Apple would launch a 4.7-inch LCD-based iPhone and a 5.8-inch AMOLED iPhone. If AMOLED display production is unable to meet demand, Kuo believes Apple would launch 4.7 and 5.5-inch LCD iPhones, along with a higher-end 5.8-inch AMOLED model.
Based on some of the significant changes that are rumored to be coming in 2017, Barclays analyst Mark Moskowitz believes Apple will skip its traditional "S" upgrade cycle in 2017, jumping straight to the iPhone 8 instead of the iPhone 7s. Moskowitz predicts the iPhone will include an OLED display, completely altered form factor, and no home button.
This is in line with rumors pointing towards significant changes in the 2017 iPhone and modest changes in the iPhone 7, plus it is a possibility as 2017 will mark the 10th anniversary of the iPhone.
Samsung is rumored to be planning to start supplying Apple with NAND flash memory starting in 2017, suggesting it could be ready in time for the 2017 iPhone.
In the future, Apple could introduce an iPhone without a home button, instead integrating Touch ID fingerprint recognition into the display of the device. Apple is working on developing touch and display driver integration (TTDI) chips, but it is not clear when that technology will be ready for use in an iPhone.
Apple is also rumored to be working on long-range wireless charging technology that could be implemented in phones as soon as 2017. Long-range wireless charging is superior to many existing wireless charging methods because it does not require devices to be as close to a charging source or mat.
There are some obstacles to overcome before such technology can be implemented, such as the loss of power transfer efficiency that occurs when the distance between the transmitter and the receiver is increased. This causes batteries further away from a charging source to charge more slowly.
Possible iPhone 7 Headphone Jack Depicted in New Image
Apr 27 iPhone 7 Plus Design Drawings Depict Dimensions Identical to iPhone 6s Plus
Apr 25 iPhone 7 Could Have Touch-Sensitive Home Button as Waterproof and Dustproof Rumors Persist
Apr 24 Decline in iPhone Shipments Could Make Apple Worst-Performing Top Five Smartphone Brand of 2016
Apr 22 Analyst Predicts 2017 iPhone 8 'Mega Cycle' With OLED, Wireless Charging, and No Home Button
Apr 21 Qualcomm Hints at Apple's Switch to Intel for LTE Modems in iPhone 7
Apr 20 LeEco's Latest Android Smartphones Beat Apple to Removing the Headphone Jack
Apr 17 Apple to Release iPhone With Glass Casing and AMOLED Screen in 2017
Apr 14 Samsung to Supply Apple With OLED Display Panels Starting in 2017
Apr 13 iPhone 7 and 7 Plus Again Rumored to Feature Smart Connector, but No Stereo Speakers or Thinner Design
Apr 12 9.7" iPad Pro's 'Excellent' Display is 'Major Upgrade' Over iPad Air 2
Apr 12 JBL Announces Noise-Canceling Headphones Powered by USB-C
Apr 8 Up to 40% Thinner Apple Watch 2 Predicted to Debut at WWDC in June
Apr 4 Dual Camera Said to Be Exclusive to 5.5-Inch iPhone 7
Mar 31 iPhone 7 May Use New Packaging Technology for Antenna Switching Module to Save Space
Mar 18 New Images Depict Alleged 7.04 Watt-Hour Battery Designed for iPhone 7
Mar 17 Hands-on Video of iPhone SE and iPhone 7 Cases Reveal Differences Compared to Current Devices
Mar 16 SanDisk's 256GB Flash Storage is Possible Option for iPhone 7 Plus
Mar 15 Potential First Photo of iPhone 7 Plus Shows Dual-Lens Camera and Smart Connector
Mar 14 Possible iPhone 7 Plus Dual Camera Module Depicted in New Images