The iPhone 7 is going to be boring.
If early leaks are to be believed — and they’re too numerous and too consistent to not believe a lot of what’s floating around out there — then this year’s iPhone 7 won’t be a major departure from last year’s iPhone 6s.
It will look mostly the same except for the antenna lines on the back. There’ll be a powerful camera, possibly with dual lenses, which could help you shoot DSLR-like photos.
The biggest change will be the removal of the headphone jack, which already has Apple fans preemptively defending the decision to ditch a feature that’s been standard for decades. The rest of the world will hyperventilate for a month or two before realising that — nope! — it doesn’t matter if there’s no headphone jack.
So unless something crazy happens in the next few months, the iPhone 7 will look and feel a lot like the 6s.
Is that enough to get you excited? Is it enough to turn around the slump in iPhone sales and convince people to upgrade their 6 or 6s?
I doubt it.
If anything, we’re in a period similar to the one we saw in 2012 and 2013 after Apple introduced the iPhone 5 and 5s and the world seemed enamoured with Samsung’s big-screen phones.
Apple finally delivered on the big screen with the iPhone 6, prompting a massive upgrade cycle in 2014 and 2015. Now things have calmed down, and the company is scrambling to find compelling reasons to get people to upgrade more often.
That might not happen until 2017, which is when Apple appears to be gearing up for a radical new iPhone.
Here’s the scuttlebutt on the 2017 iPhone:
Most importantly, it sounds like the 2017 iPhone will have a brand new design. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, who’s pretty plugged into what Apple is working on, mentioned on his podcast the other day that he’s heard rumours Apple is preparing to launch an iPhone that removes all bezels from the front. That means the iPhone will look like one giant screen without a home button. Meanwhile, accurate Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that the device will also be made almost entirely of glass, similar to the iPhone 4.
2017 will mark the iPhone’s tenth birthday, so what better way to celebrate than with a complete overhaul?
In addition to the new design, there are some smaller but significant updates in the works.
Bloomberg reported in January that next year’s iPhone will have wireless charging. Even though wireless charging is nothing new, the technology charges your device a lot slower than wired charging and it has to be placed directly on top of a special charging pad. The Bloomberg report says Apple has figured out a way to wirelessly charge devices from farther away than current wireless charging docks. That could be why the company has hired a bunch of wireless charging experts recently, as The Verge’s Ben Popper noticed this week.
The screen will get a big improvement too. As Kuo also reported, Apple will start using OLED displays, which are more power efficient and do a better job at representing colours. Samsung has used OLED technology for years, and it’s one of the key reasons why its displays are always better than Apple’s. My colleague Antonio Villas-Boas has a good breakdown showing the benefits of OLED displays right here.
In the meantime, the iPhone will be just fine. Even if the iPhone 7 doesn’t appear exciting on the outside, it will still have the one key advantage that has always kept it at the top: iOS and its ecosystem of apps and services that keep users locked in.
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