With WWDC 2016 finishing a couple of weeks ago, here are my Top 10 Predictions for the iPhone 7/Plus based on what we expect to see, what I want to see, factoring in rumours & leaks, and ranked based on likelihood of happening.
10. Drop The Numbering Scheme
Everyone seems to be referring to the 2016 iPhone as the iPhone 7, because that is naturally the next number in the naming scheme.
However with the likelihood that Apple may be seeing this as the 3rd year in the 6 series of iPhones, to avoid embarrassing the fact it is not iPhone 7 worthy when it comes to the name, they could rename their lineup as:
- iPhone SE
- iPhone Plus
If this were true, then everyone would refer to the iPhones like they do with Macs, by year.
There have also been recent rumours that this could be called the iPhone 6SE and iPhone 6SE Plus, which is quite a mouthful if you ask me.
I will keep referring to it as iPhone 7 in this post for the sake of ease of reading.
9. Smart Connector and Modular possibilities
Debuting on the iPad Pro 12.9inch in September 2015, the Smart Connector allows power and data transfer with compatible accessories, being ideal for keyboard cases as they do not require Bluetooth or a battery.
But how would this be used on an iPhone?
The Moto Z and Moto Z Force of whom were recently unveiled, incorporate a unique solution on the back of the device called Moto Mods, which is there solution to a modular phone.
The idea being that you snap a case magnetically onto the back of the phone that provides protection, but can include any of the following:
- Better Speakers
- Extra Battery and Wireless Charging Support
- Projector to display content up to 70inches on a white wall.
- Cases that snap on and off for aesthetic looks.
I would be willing to suggest and put my money on the idea that any iPhone with a smart connector on the back will have a very similar solution.
This smart connector could also work as part of maybe a new Apple Pencil accessory, where they could make an Apple Pencil 2 that charges and rests next to an iPad via the Smart Connector and maybe have an Apple Pencil 2 Mini that fits on the back of the iPhone and have functionality like its bigger sibling.
Now while I’m at it, I’d also like to suggest the idea that Apple could always use this as an opportunity to release a battery case that supports long-distance wireless charging when introduced in the 2017 iPhone (at the earliest), of which will be integrated in that model but can be used on the then previous generation with a bit more bulk.
Would people buy a case that does this? Absolutely.
Would people wait a year to hope the case gets introduced? That’s likely on a user-by-user basis.
8. Improved Wi-Fi and LTE Speeds
Like with many iPhone upgrades, we should expect the usual better Wi-Fi and cellular data speeds.
There have been rumours that Intel will provides some of the modem chips needed to support LTE for the new iPhones this year.
Qualcomm’s X12 Chips are also expected to be included which provide up to 600Mbps download and 150Mbps upload, presumably for cellular.
Also as of mid-June, Bluetooth SIG announced Bluetooth 5.0 which provides 2x the range and 4x the speed over the previous generation, but this will most likely not happen until the 2017 iPhone as this is not just a simple software upgrade but a hardware upgrade that will take time to rollout.
7. Design Change Not Major
As you can tell by all the leaks, the iPhone 7 is likely to not get a major change and the major change being in the 2017 iPhone to mark the 10th anniversary.
The iPhone 7 based off rumours and leaks is likely to get redesigned antenna bands that go along the top and bottom edges on the back and no horizontal line across the back width of the device to try and make it more discrete.
It may also have a colour change from Space Grey to Deep Blue or Space Black, which I would feel would be like a step back for the Deep Blue colour, unless it was an additional colour to the lineup, which I doubt, but welcome the idea of a Space Black model (even if that replaces the Space Gray model).
6. Water Resistance / Water Proof
As you will understand later on, Water Resistance is another huge talking point of what may come to the iPhone 7 or soon there-after.
Smartphones have been starting to adopt this feature recently, with the Samsung Galaxy S7 being on of the first flagship devices to have this all built-in and without any annoying flaps.
Rumours suggest that the device could have “Professional Water Proofing” which would be a massive step over the competition and proves that when Apple does something, they want it to be the best at what it does.
5. Plus Model To Be Superior
In the iPhone 6 Plus and 6s Plus, it had especially in the camera, exclusivity of Optical Image Stabilization (OIS).
OIS is expected to be included on the non-Plus iPhone 7 model, which is great, but… the iPhone 7 Plus is expected to get a dual-camera setup on the back and not on the 4.7inch model.
The Plus model obvious has advantages being a bigger screen, larger battery, sharper display, landscape home screen, better camera and more, but it sounds like Apple could try and make this even more the case with features like the Smart Connector.
It is also expected to get 3GB of RAM over the 2GB in the iPhone 6s/Plus and iPhone 7 non-Plus models, likely because of a superior dual-lens camera.
4. Double Storage Capacities
Apple does not give you much storage at the base model considering the price you pay and the fact that iPhones do not have expandable storage.
Apple currently offers in the iPhone 6s/Plus, 16GB, 64GB and 128GB of storage and the latest rumours suggests that each of these storage capacities will be doubled in the iPhone 7/Plus.
This would provide an ideal amount of storage for a base-model new generation iPhone with 32GB and $100 extra now gets you 96GB more storage instead of 48GB extra.
This means that the iPhone 7/Plus will come in 32, 128 and 256GB’s of storage, or exactly the same as what the iPad Pro 9.7 and 12.9inch have today.
If you are planning on getting the iPhone 6s with 128GB and haven’t bought one yet, I would at least wait until September, where you could save yourself US$100 and get more benefits from the new model.
3. A10 Chip
Apple produces their own SoC’s (System on a Chip) which provides all of the processing and graphics power for the phone that provides better games and loading times etc.
The A9 had a bit of criticism at launch being produced by TSMC and Samsung and each had different processor sizes and different battery life results, especially in bench mark tests.
These processors were of a 16nm and 14nm process respectively, but the A10 is possibly going to go to a 10nm process and if not now, then it will for the A11, which to put it short could be roughly 30-35% more energy efficient, providing longer battery life.
The batteries are also expected to be roughly 14% larger in this years iPhone, so this could all-round have a noticeably better battery than the 6s, but not dramatically better.
2. iOS 10
iOS 10 is the latest version of iOS which was announced at WWDC 2016 recently.
With it comes the following changes:
- Widgets Screen.
- Siri SDK.
- More feature packed iMessage.
- Redesigned Lock Screen.
- Redesigned Apple Maps, News and Music apps.
- Home app to work with HomeKit devices.
- Redesigned Control Centre.
- Raise to Wake device (A9 Chips and later).
- Widgets support for 3D Touch on home screen app icons.
- Improvements to Photos app.
- Use Apple Pay on the web.
- Improvements to security throughout the entire operating system.
It is likely that the new iPhones will get a few additional software features that weren’t present on any other device before it.
For the iPhone 5s it was software to work with Touch ID, iPhone 6 it was reachability and landscape home screen on Plus model and 6s/Plus was 3D Touch software.
One possibility I thought of is if Apple calls the iPhone 7 Plus the iPhone 7 Pro, then it could have some form of split-view feature to make the iOS Pro-line consistent and that alone would be compelling enough to get the Plus model.
1. No Headphone Jack & Improved Audio Experience
As much I would hate to see it go and the fact that I am not looking forward to it, but I am expecting the 3.5mm headphone to disappear.
Apple can’t say that they were the first to do it as the Moto Z & Moto Z Force did this recently with a single USB-C Port.
It is expected that Apple will include regular EarPods with a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter in the box and offer a separate Bluetooth set of earphones called AirPods that do not even have a wire connecting them together.
This means the iPhone will have all wired audio being done via adapters to the Lightning port or via Lightning compatible headphones that have a Digital Audio Converter (DAC) built-into the headphones.
For the month of June, Bluetooth headphones are now out-selling wired headphones for the first time ever and this change could help further push this transition.
Bluetooth is the obvious marketed solution from Apple as they sell wireless Beats headphones, but for many like myself, wired is just a lot easier to use and I will say it now, what makes or breaks it for the iPhone 7/Plus when it comes to audio, will all come down to how much better Lightning headphones sound and how bulky and costly the 3.5mm to Lightning adapters are.
With the headphone jack going, Apple is likely replacing it with a 2nd speaker at the bottom of the device, which should provide a similar audio experience like on all iPads except the Pro lineup as they have 4 speakers.
In short, I am really curious to hear what the 2016 iPhones will be capable of, but like I was with the iPhone 6s, if I’m not so compelled by it to upgrade, I’ll likely wait until the 2017 iPhone 10th Anniversary edition that could have no bezels, embedded home button into the display, AMOLED display, true long-distance wireless charging etc.
So this leaves me to the question for this post:
“What is your current smartphone and will you upgrade to the 2016 iPhone or wait until 2017?”
Please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Be sure to like this post and follow me here and on Twitter @neilh_apps.