Update: The iPhone 7’s camera could be shrinking down and taking that unsightly bump with it. Plus we’re hearing again about the potential for a dual-lens set up.
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.
- Fancy Android? Here’s everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy S7
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Apple’s next all-new iPhone
- When is it out? Likely September 2016
- What will it cost? Probably the same as the iPhone 6S
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. September is still the best bet for now.
iPhone 7 design
- A super slim build
- Water resistance
- No more antenna lines
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, while another report claims Apple will use fan-out technology to save space and reduce the thickness of the iPhone 7.
Another rumor suggests the iPhone 7 will have an all-metal design with a bezel-less 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 and 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 could 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 could lead to 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 is that 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 being totally flat the back could also be uninterrupted, as the same report points towards the removal of the antenna bands.
That tallies with an image leak picked up by Nowhereelse.fr, which claims its snapshot shows the iPhone 7 to have no antenna bands and a larger camera.
A few days after that, a leak of the iPhone 7 chassis design showed the new design for the antennas. So it increasingly seems Apple may sort out one of the more controversial elements of the design of the iPhone 6S.
iPhone 7 screen
- A sharper screen
- An edge-to-edge display
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 rumor 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 the 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.
On the other hand it’s now been reported by the Chinese Wall Street Journal that Apple has ordered 100 million 5.5-inch AMOLED panels for a 2017 iPhone. So all we can say with any certainty right now is that we won’t see an AMOLED iPhone this year.
There’s also talk of Apple taking a leaf out of Samsung’s book and opting for a5.8-inch curved AMOLED display on a future iPhone, although this could be something for the iPhone 8 rather than the iPhone 7.
Hopes of an edge-to-edge display on the iPhone 7 have been raised slightly after an image appeared online claiming to show just that – although having seen hundreds of iPhone leaks over the years we think this offering looks rather fake.
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, but many of its main rivals have already launched. The biggest ones are the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. Both of these phones have received five star reviews on techradar – which we hadn’t previously given out to a phone for two years – so Apple has some serious work to do.
- Check out our full reviews of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
The HTC 10 looks to be a worthy alternative to Apple’s handset too. Coming from HTC it’s as stylish as you’d hope and the audio quality is a cut above.
- Check out our full HTC 10 review
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 manageable in one hand, this is the one you want.
- Check out our full iPhone SE review
iPhone 7 camera and battery
- A dual-lens snapper
- No more camera bump
- A larger 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 shot of the rear of the iPhone 7 from Nowhereelse.fr suggests the camera lens will be bigger. It doesn’t seem to be a dual-camera lens, but it looks much larger so may mean some big improvements on the camera tech.
As for the iPhone 7 Plus, trusted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo at KGI Securities in South 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. Especially as an unearthed Apple patentalso points to a dual-lens camera.
Not only does it suggest that, but also a smaller lens, which could remove the camera bump while still packing in plenty of tech.
As for the battery, 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 – or is there?
A recent leak suggests that Apple will increase the battery size in the iPhone 7 while reducing the handset’s thickness. If that’s true, then great, but we’re not holding out much hope.
iPhone 7 OS and power
- A hexa-core processor
- iOS 10
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
- Wireless charging
- A smaller headphone jack
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 would make it $649/£539/AU$1,079 upwards.
Though if Apple finally ditches the 16GB model the starting price might be even higher.