Coming in 2016
At A Glance
- Apple's iPhone 7 is expected to launch in 2016, bringing a new design and new features.
- No headphone jack
- Improved water resistance
- Dual-lens camera for iPhone 7 Plus
- Possible Smart Connector for iPhone 7 Plus
- Design similar to iPhone 6s
- Redesigned antenna bands
- Upgraded processor
- Two screen sizes
What We Expect
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 7 launches, rumors about the device started trickling out in January of 2016. We've already gleaned many details about the upcoming iPhone, giving us plenty of information on what to expect when it debuts.
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, but there have been some rumors suggesting Apple could drop its standard numbered naming convention, instead calling the 2016 iPhone the "iPhone Pro." It is unclear at this point if those rumors are accurate.
Because 2015 marked an "S" iPhone upgrade year that introduced new features such as an improved camera and a better processor, 2016 will bring an even-year upgrade that will include a 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 will be a modest update that continues to use a design similar to the design of the iPhone 6s. It is said to have the same general shape as the iPhone 6s, 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. The front of the iPhone is also expected to see some changes with a longer earpiece cutout and a relocated ambient light sensor.
Some rumors suggest Apple is aiming to make the iPhone 7 up to 1mm 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. The removal of the headphone jack may also improve water resistance.
Blueprints and an image of a device said to be the iPhone 7 Plus have 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 and other rumors have said it will not be included. If the Smart Connector rumors are accurate, it appears it will be a feature limited to the larger-screened model.
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 with 2-3x optical zoom and improved performance in low-light conditions. 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.
A photo of a full device said to be the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus was leaked on a Chinese website in March. It features a design similar in shape to the iPhone 6s, but without rear antenna bands. It has a protruding, pill-shaped camera enclosure that includes two cameras inside, as is rumored for the larger-screened device, along with a round flash.
It also depicts a Smart Connector on the back of the iPhone, but rumors disagree on whether this is a feature that will actually be included. It's been seen on the back of this device and in iPhone 7 Plus blueprints, but according to to Japanese site Mac Otakara, Apple has decided not to include a Smart Connector on the iPhone 7.
It is not known if the device in the images is a genuine iPhone 7 Plus prototype, a dummy based on iPhone 7 Plus specifications, or a completely fake device.
A rear casing said to be for the smaller 4.7-inch iPhone 7 was discovered on Weibo in May, matching many of the features rumored for the 4.7-inch device. It includes a larger protruding rear camera and top and bottom antenna bands, but no rear antenna bands and no Smart Connector. Rumors have disagreed on whether the rear camera of the iPhone 7 will protrude, and again, it is not known if the device below is a true iPhone 7, a dummy, or a fake.
Rear shells of both the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus were seen in photos in June. The much larger hole of the iPhone 7 camera is clearly visible, as is the dual camera of the iPhone 7 Plus. Both cameras protrude from the shell. Also visible are the redesigned antenna bands on the iPhone 7 shell.
An image depicting a Lightning cable assembly that could potentially be destined for the iPhone 7 surfaced in early May, which is notable because it features a headphone jack amid rumors the headphone jack is being eliminated in the iPhone 7. The part is similar in design to the Lightning cable assembly for the iPhone 6s, but not identical. While it could be an iPhone 7 part, its origin cannot be confirmed.
If it is a valid part, it suggests reports Apple will eliminate the headphone jack are incorrect or partially incorrect. Apple could leave the headphone jack in place on both the iPhone 7 or 7 Plus rendering rumors fully wrong, or remove it on just the larger iPhone 7 Plus, leaving it intact on the iPhone 7. The component does not mesh with multiple rumors pointing towards the removal of the headphone jack, so it should be viewed with some skepticism until confirmed as an actual part.
Images depicting what could potentially be the dual-lens camera component for the iPhone 7 Plus surfaced from multiple sources in the early months of 2016. The part has an "821" number on it, which has been associated with Apple in the past, suggesting it could be a legitimate component and representative of the dual-lens camera that will be used in the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus.
An image of the battery said to be for the iPhone 7 lists a capacity of 7.04 watt-hours. That's slightly larger than the equivalent battery capacity listed for the iPhone 6s (6.61 watt-hours) and almost identical to the iPhone 6 (7.01 watt-hours). Voltage is not visible on the alleged iPhone 7 battery, so the exact charge capacity is not yet available, but should be similar to the iPhone 6 battery.
We've seen a backlight assembly said to be destined for the iPhone 7, which surfaced in January of 2016. We can't really glean any information about the iPhone 7 from the backlight component, but it is similar in design to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus backlight assembly with the exception of relocated LCD flex cables and 3D Touch chip.
An alleged iPhone 7 prototype casing surfaced in May, depicting four separate speakers positioned at the top and the bottom of the device much like the iPad Pro. Because the four speaker layout has not been spotted in other renderings and design leaks, there's a good chance it's fake.
Case Leaks, Design Drawings and Renderings
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus blueprints reportedly sourced directly from Taiwan-based Apple supplier Catcher were leaked in May, appearing to confirm the removal of the headphone jack in both models. The two designs in the blueprints also feature protruding cameras, with the iPhone 7 using a larger single camera and the iPhone 7 Plus adopting a dual-lens camera as has been rumored. There is no second speaker in place to replace the headphone jack, casting doubt on rumors suggesting the devices will have stereo sound.
The first image (above) depicts the blueprint of the iPhone 7, with no Smart Connector located on the rear of the device. There have been conflicting rumors on whether the iPhone 7 will include a Smart Connector, but the second blueprint (below) depicts the iPhone 7 Plus with a Smart Connector, suggesting the larger-screened iPhone will perhaps include the connector while the smaller iPhone 7 will not.
Both devices continue to feature a design similar to the design of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, which is in line with other rumors. The antenna bands are not pictured in the images, and previous rumors suggest they will be removed from the back of the device while remaining present on the sides of the device.
A third image also allegedly sourced from Apple manufacturer Catcher Technology featuring the iPhone 7 depicts the same design changes.
The Catcher schematic and blueprint both features a larger camera hole, with a slightly protruding lens that is less pronounced than the protruding lens in the iPhone 6s. The Catcher images do not appear to depict a device that is significantly thinner, casting some doubt on rumors suggesting the iPhone 7 could be up to a millimeter thinner than the iPhone 6s and as thin as the 6.1mm iPod touch.
Japanese magazine MacFan published design drawings of the iPhone 7 Plus, which are also in line with rumors that the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will feature largely the same design as the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. The schematics, which depict the 5.5-inch iPhone, say the iPhone 7 Plus will measure in at 158.22mm x 77.94mm x 7.3mm, identical to the dimensions of the iPhone 6s Plus.
The design drawings also depict the dual camera setup rumored for the iPhone 7 Plus and no headphone jack. Not pictured is a second speaker to replace the headphone jack, which disagrees with some rumors suggesting stereo sound will be an included feature.
A set of molds said to be for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus include a single-lens camera for the smaller device and a dual-lens camera for the larger device. The iPhone 7 mold appears to depict a larger camera, perhaps to accommodate an improved sensor. Both cameras protrude, a design element rumors have disagreed on.
Neither mold depicts a Smart Connector, casting some doubt on rumors that have suggested a Smart Connector will be a feature included on the iPhone 7 Plus. At this point, it is not clear which Smart Connector rumor is accurate.
A sketch of the iPhone 7 from a French website includes the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the device, again pointing towards an iPhone that is the same length and width as the iPhone 6s (5.44 inches long and 2.64 inches wide). Thickness is not included in the design drawing and previous rumors have disagreed on whether or not the new iPhone 7 will be thinner than the iPhone 6s. The sketch also appears to depict a slightly larger camera, which agrees with rumors suggesting the smaller-screened iPhone 7 will include a larger camera sensor.
The first alleged case for the iPhone 7 surfaced in March, with the overall design appearing to be similar to the iPhone 6s. It features the same pill-shaped volume buttons and side-located power buttons, but it has cutouts for two speakers, in line with one rumor suggesting the iPhone 7 will have stereo speakers.
The two speaker cutouts replace the cutout for a headphone jack, which is said to be eliminated in the iPhone 7 in favor of an all-in-one Lightning port, but later rumors have suggested there will only be a single speaker so the case may be inaccurate.
We compared an iPhone 7 case to an iPhone 6s, and while the older device fit into the iPhone 7 case (suggesting the new phone won't be dramatically thinner), there were some differences. The iPhone 7 case appears to have a larger opening for the camera, which is likely designed to accommodate the rumored larger single-lens camera on the iPhone 7. There's also two cutouts for speakers instead of a hole for the headphone jack, as Apple is expected to remove the headphone jack from the device.
Additional cases designed for the iPhone 7 Plus were spotted in June, suggesting case makers are confused over the features that will be included in the larger-screened device. While a camera cutout for a dual-lens camera appears to be a universally accepted feature, a cutout for a Smart Connector has been seen in one case, but is absent from another.
Case manufacturer Sunnyc has created an iPhone 7 case that includes a cutout for a Smart Connector (above), while other cases found on Alibaba do not (below).
Early cases for new devices are often based on schematics obtained from factory workers and other inside sources and can give a solid picture of upcoming iPhone designs, but they are not always accurate.
The iPhone 7 may be somewhat thinner than the iPhone 6s, but exactly how thin remains in question. Apple may use the elimination of the headphone jack, advances in chip packing technology, and a slimmer Lightning port to cut down on the thickness of the device. One rumor has suggested the iPhone 7 will be between 6.0mm and 6.5mm, but leaked renderings and cases do not appear to depict a device that thin, and design drawings from Japanese magazine MacFan feature no reduction in thickness at all.
Information obtained by MacRumors and confirmed by additional reports indicates the iPhone 7's body will be similar to the iPhone 6s, adopting the same general design language.
Apple is planning to change the design of the antenna bands on the device, doing away with the thick white antenna bands that are located across the back of the Phone 6s rear shell. The bands located at the top, bottom, and sides of the device are rumored to remain on the iPhone 7, but the rear bands are eliminated for a cleaner look. As for the thinner Lightning port, while Apple plans to slim it down, it will continue to be compatible with existing the Lightning connector and Lightning cables.
Rumors on the rear camera have varied. Some rumors point towards a camera that protrudes less or not at all, while an image of an alleged iPhone 7 Plus features a camera that continues to protrude. The iPhone 7 will feature a larger camera sensor while the iPhone 7 Plus will include a dual-lens camera.
Some unconfirmed rumors about the iPhone 7's design suggest it could have a strengthened, water resistant frame that ditches Apple's traditional aluminum casing for "new compound materials while also incorporating a touch sensitive Home button, but some of these rumors do not mesh with information pointing towards minor design changes. Improved water resistance is expected due to the removal of the headphone jack.
One rumor from the Asian supply chain says Apple will introduce a new deep blue color option, which will replace the traditional Space Gray shade that Apple has used for several years.
Japanese site Mac Otakara, the source of the rumor, later said that a mistake was made and the alleged deep blue shade is actually a new shade of Space Gray. The new Space Gray color is said to be "close to black, but not quite black," and "much darker" than the Space Gray used for the iPhone 6s. A rendering of a dark Space Gray iPhone shows what a deeper color might look like.
The front panel may also see some design changes with a slightly longer earpiece and relocated ambient light sensors. The front panel changes and tweaks to the rear camera will render iPhone 6s cases and screen protectors unusable with the iPhone 7, despite the design similarities.
A handful of rumors have suggested Apple will do away with a physical home button in the iPhone 7, instead adopting a home button that sits flush with the phone.
Apple's Force Touch technology will reportedly be built into the home button to provide haptic feedback when pressed, much like the Force Touch trackpad on Apple's most recent MacBooks. With haptic feedback, iPhone users would still feel the sensation of pressing on the home button even without a button to actually depress.
These home button rumors come from somewhat sketchy sources and should be viewed with some skepticism until confirmed with more information as they do not match up with rumors of only minor design tweaks.
Multiple reports from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo point towards a modest update for the iPhone 7 without "many attractive selling points," and a report from The Wall Street Journal says only "subtle changes" will be introduced.
No Headphone Jack
Apple may be able to decrease the thickness of the iPhone 7 or make room for additional parts such as a larger battery by eliminating the headphone jack and instead adopting an all-in-one Lightning port that will support both charging and music playback with Lightning-equipped headphones.
Rumors about the removal of the headphone jack have come from several distinct sources, but there is still some doubt because an image said to depict the Lightning cable assembly of the iPhone 7 features a headphone jack. It is not known if the image is a legitimate part, but if it is, it a headphone jack could be present in both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus or just the iPhone 7.
If the headphone jack is removed in the iPhone 7, headphones will need a Lightning connector or a 3.5mm jack-to-Lightning adapter to connect to the Lightning port on the bottom of the phone. The device will also support wireless Bluetooth headphones.
In addition to allowing Apple to perhaps shave some thickness off of the iPhone 7 and save valuable internal space, requiring headphones to connect through the Lightning port will boost overall audio quality. Apple is rumored to be considering some new noise-canceling technology to remove background noise during music playback and phone calls, but rumors have disagreed on whether this will be introduced in the iPhone 7 or the next-generation iPhone.
In the video below, we took a look at several sets of Lightning-equipped headphones to explore the benefits and downsides of the removal of the headphone jack.
Apple supplier Cirrus Logic recently announced an MFi headset development kit designed to help accessory makers develop Lightning-based headphones, another potential sign that Apple is moving away from the headphone jack.
Apple is rumored to be working on Lightning-equipped EarPods that will ship alongside the iPhone 7. They will be similar to the existing EarPods that are included in the iPhone box, but with a Lightning connector instead of a headphone jack. One rumor suggests the EarPods will connect to the iPhone using Bluetooth, but will charge through the device's Lightning port, much like the Apple Pencil charges through the Lightning port of the iPad Pro.
Another rumor suggests Apple will ship the iPhone 7 with standard 3.5mm EarPods and a 3.5mm jack to Lightning adapter to allow them to connect to the new devices, but this seems like an unusual choice compared to the introduction of new Lightning-equipped EarPods.
As for the empty space left by the headphone jack, Apple may be planning to replace it with a second speaker to introduce stereo sound in the iPhone 7 by adding an additional speaker, but rumors disagree on whether or not stereo speakers will actually be included and stereo speakers have not been seen in design blueprints.
Japanese site Mac Otakara believes Apple may potentially include speaker holes on both the right and left sides of the Lightning port, filling the space left by the headphone jack, but rather than introducing stereo sound, the site believes the two speakers will be "on a monaural system."
One image of what's said to be a prototype iPhone 7 casing has even depicted an iPad Pro-style four speaker arrangement, but given that four speakers have not been the subject of any rumor, there's a good chance it's fake.
Along with Lightning-equipped EarPods that will perhaps ship alongside the iPhone 7, Apple is rumored to be working on a new set of wireless Bluetooth earphones that would be sold alongside the iPhone 7 as a premium accessory and an alternative to the EarPods.
While traditional Bluetooth headphones have a wire that connects the left and right ear pieces to each other, Apple is said to be designing earphones that do not include a connective cord between the ear pieces. These earphones would be similar in design to the Bragi Dash, an upcoming set of earphones that features individual ear pieces for each ear.
The wireless earphones, which have a battery life of approximately four hours due to the separate chips and batteries in each one, will reportedly charge through an included carrying case that also serves as a rechargeable battery to extend battery life as much as possible.
An image of a device said to be the iPhone 7 Plus has surfaced, depicting a Smart Connector on the back of the device. The Smart Connector is a feature introduced in the iPad Pro, used to connect to accessories like the Smart Keyboard.
A Smart Connector has also been pictured in design drawings from Mac Fan and in January design blueprints sourced from Apple supplier Catcher, both of which depict it as a feature limited to the iPhone 7 Plus.
A rumor from Japanese site Mac Otakara, however, suggests Apple has decided to eliminate the Smart Connector from its iPhone plans, and molds said to be for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus do not picture Smart Connectors. Based on rumors, if a Smart Connector is indeed an iPhone 7 feature, it appears it may be available only in the larger 5.5-inch model.
It is not known how Apple would utilize a Smart Connector in an iPhone, but it could perhaps be used for wireless charging or battery cases.
iPhone 7 vs. iPhone 7 Plus vs. "iPhone Pro"
With the release of the larger-screened iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Apple differentiated between the two devices by including Optical Image Stabilization in the iPhone 6 Plus for improved photo and video capturing abilities. The iPhone 6s Plus continued to offer Optical Image Stabilization while the iPhone 6s did not, and it appears the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus could also see different features, mainly when it comes to the camera -- the 4.7-inch iPhone 7 is said to have a regular single-lens camera while the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus is said to incorporate a dual-lens camera.
Early iPhone 7 Plus rumors suggested Apple was working on two iPhone 7 Plus models, one with a single camera and one with a dual-lens camera, but KGI Securities Ming-Chi Kuo, the source of those rumors, later reversed his prediction. Apple is expected to introduce a single 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus model with a dual-lens camera.
There's also a questionable rumor sourced from Chinese site MyDrivers suggesting the dual-lens iPhone 7 Plus with Smart Connector could actually be dubbed the "iPhone Pro" instead of the "iPhone 7 Plus," but this naming theory was tied to the rumors indicating Apple would release two iPhone models and may now be inaccurate.
Dual-Lens Camera Details
The cameras in the dual-lens iPhone 7 Plus may take advantage of technology Apple acquired through the purchase of Israeli camera company LinX Imaging last year. Image quality in the iPhone 7 Plus could be greatly improved with the introduction of a dual-lens system, narrowing the gap between photos taken with the iPhone and those taken with a more robust DSLR cameras.
LinX dual-lens technology offers several potential benefits for the iPhone 7 Plus, with rumors specifically pointing towards 2-3x optical zoom capabilities, perhaps implemented through the use of two lenses with different focal lengths. With a dual-lens camera system, images captured are clearer and brighter with less noise and truer color, allowing for pictures that include more detail, especially in low light conditions.
There's a possibility that a dual-lens system like the one LinX created could be used for depth mapping, allowing users to do things like take 3D scans of real world items or use depth information to refocus an image. For additional information on what LinX technology could mean for the iPhone 7, make sure to check out our in-depth LinX post.
An example of how a dual-lens camera could potentially improve photos taken with the iPhone 7 Plus can be seen in the below video demonstration of similar technology from Corephotonics. Corephotonics' dual-lens system uses a wide-angle lens and a lens capable of 5X optical zoom and aggregates data from both to get a better picture.
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.
Apple was planning on sourcing its dual-lens camera modules from Sony, but rumors suggest Sony is behind schedule, leading Apple to instead source some or all of the camera modules from LG.
As for the camera in the iPhone 7, there's no word on what improvements may be introduced. If the iPhone 7 Plus is set to see major gains in image quality, it stands to reason the iPhone 7 will also see significant improvement, even if it is implemented outside of a dual-lens system. Renderings and drawings the iPhone 7 depict a larger camera cutout, perhaps to accommodate an improved sensor, and Optical Image Stabilization, previously limited to larger-screened devices, is a possibility.
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. 3GB of RAM in the iPhone 7 Plus will reportedly be used to compensate for the increased image processing demands of the dual-lens camera.
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 will include a high-end 256GB storage option that will not be available with the iPhone 7. 256GB is a capacity that is not offered in any of Apple's current iOS devices, but a 256GB SanDisk flash storage chip possibly appropriate for use in an iPhone has been spotted.
Images of memory chips said to be destined for the iPhone 7 feature 16, 64, and 256GB storage capacities, suggesting Apple will perhaps stick with 16GB as a minimum storage offering for the device while also upping the high-end capacity to 256GB. The authenticity of the memory chips cannot be confirmed and this information should be viewed with some skepticism until confirmed.
Supply chain research conducted by an analyst in China suggests Apple might drop its unpopular low-end 16GB storage tier, bumping the minimum amount of storage in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus to 32GB. Research firm TrendForce also believes Apple will drop its 16GB storage option, introducing iPhones in 32, 128, and 256GB capacities. The report pertains to the larger iPhone 7 Plus and so we don't have details on which storage capacities will be included in the smaller iPhone 7.
This information does not match up with previously leaked memory chips that were rumored to be destined for the iPhone 7, leaving it unclear what storage capacities will be offered in the device.
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, and wireless charging may be a feature pushed back to the 2017 iPhone. It is also not clear what method Apple would use to implement wireless charging.
Apple is said to be sourcing 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. Intel will supply at least 50 percent of the LTE chips for the iPhone 7.
Longtime Apple modem supplier Qualcomm is also expected to provide some of the LTE modems for the iPhone 7, and the X12 modem is the most likely candidate for inclusion in the device. Qualcomm's X12 chipsets feature theoretical download speeds up to 600Mb/s and upload speeds up to 150Mb/s, with support for 4x4 MIMO, LTE Advanced carrier aggregation, LTE-U small cells, and automatic LTE and Wi-Fi switching.
Apple will use Intel modems for the AT&T iPhone 7 and some versions of the iPhone sold in other countries, while Qualcomm will supply modems for use in Verizon iPhone models and all Chinese models.
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 speculates the 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 Otakara suggests 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.
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.
Dual SIM Trays
A part leak suggests the iPhone 7 could include dual SIM trays to allow the device to send and receive calls and messages from multiple phone numbers. Dual SIM trays would also allow the iPhone 7 to work with multiple carriers at the same time, ideal for traveling.
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.
Apple plans to rely on multiple manufacturing partners to assemble the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, including Foxconn, Pegatron, and Wistron, so it's able to meet demand for the device. Foxconn and Pegatron will assemble the 4.7-inch model, while Foxconn and Wistron will assemble the 5.5-inch model.
Foxconn and Pegatron have already begun hiring new employees to prepare for the launch of the iPhone 7. Hiring is said to have started early because of a "more complex" build, possibly due to the dual cameras rumored for the larger-screened device.
Beyond the iPhone 7
The iPhone 7 hasn't launched yet, but we're already hearing rumors about the iPhone that will be released in 2017 to mark the 10th anniversary of the launch of the first iPhone. That device is said to feature some radical design changes, perhaps adopting a glass-backed body and an edge-to-edge OLED display with integrated Touch ID and no home button.
For more details on the 2017 iPhone, which will perhaps be called the "iPhone 8," make sure to check out our full iPhone 8 roundup.