What a year it's been for Apple. After sales stalled for the first time in the iPhone's history, the company became embroiled in a major spat with the FBI over privacy and then got, in many people's eyes, what it deserved when the European Commission declared that its astonishing tax arrangements in Ireland were illegal.
It needs to pull something truly impressive out of the bag to bring the love back, and Wednesday's launch event (kicking off at 6pm UK time) feels like it has a lot more riding on it than usual.
If the 6S was a mostly incremental upgrade, the freshly-numbered iPhone 7 -- come on, it's surely not going to be called the iPhone 6SE -- should have a little more innovative bite, going by Apple's traditional "fallow year" release cycle. From Lightning Port headphones to more capacious storage, here are all the important iPhone 7 rumours we've heard so far, with a couple of duds thrown in for shits and giggles.
Less is More?
So Apple seems to think, as it once again is reportedly slimming down the handset. We’re not quite as convinced. Though we were sceptical when we first heard that Apple was considering dropping the iPhone’s headphone jack in order to make the mobile slimmer, we've begrudgingly accepted it now. It looks set to be replaced by an all-in-one Lightning connector for both charging and audio, and the supposed iPhone 7 Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter has also been pictured.
Supposedly, Apple will be adding a second speaker in the now abandoned audio jack real estate. However, it will probably not be stereo sound like Apple’s new iPad Pros.
No matter what they want you to think, thinner isn’t always better. A skinnier iPhone would almost certainly feature a smaller battery, despite hopeful whisperings of a 14% boost in the stamina department, and that’s something nobody wants. Regardless, there’s little need to go any slimmer than 7.1mm. Seriously. Who cares?
Well, maybe those annoyed with the iPhone 6S's camera bump, at least. According to MacRumors the iPhone 7 is said to feature a flush, flat rear, letting the lens sit in line with the aluminium casing. Apple appears to have found a way to hide the phone's antenna bands too.
If that wasn’t enough, it sounds like Tim Cook and co also want to retire the iPhone’s home button. We're pretty certain it won't happen this year, but the suggestion is that iPhone's fingerprint reader is to be integrated within the screen itself, enabling users to essentially scan their digits anywhere on the display.
In terms of replacing the app switching/home screen functionality of the home key, rumour has it that Apple will create a soft key or add a new feature to 3D Touch, which is itself bound to be improved. Hopefully we’ll soon be able to scroll through content previews, rather than just peek at static thumbnails.
More is... Also More
Back to battery life again. Yes, we have another conflicting report to reference. Slightly more promising -- and therefore slightly less believable -- gossip claims that Apple is instead really knuckling down to improve the iPhone’s staying power. A larger 3,100mAh battery is music to our ears, and would offer significantly better stamina than the 1,715 mAh number powering the iPhone 6S. Then again, this rumour crops up ahead of every new iPhone launch, and our hopes always tend to be dashed.
There’s plenty of talk of a new storage option too, with gossipers convinced that a 256GB iPhone is in the works. Here’s where things become a little murky. Some reports suggest this storage option would only apply to the iPhone 7 Plus, but it seems unlikely that Apple would offer different capacities for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. What's more plausible is the full retirement of the 16GB model, which we should have seen the back of a long time ago. Expect 32GB to be the base model.
Durability, At Last
Something we can definitely get on board with is official ruggedisednessment. Water- and dust-resistance have been near the top of most people’s iPhone wish lists for a couple of years now, and the iPhone 6s was damn near waterproof already, so if Apple decides not to include so-called ‘rugged’ features on the iPhone 7, we’ll be mighty disappointed. Come on Timmy, we've wanted this for ages now. Haven't you ever accidentally spilled water on your phone? Ahhh, of course, you don't need to pay for a replacement.
Things are looking vaguely promising this time around though. Recent reports suggest it'll have the same IP7X waterproofing as the original Apple Watch, which will allow it to survive short underwater stints at depths of up to one metre. A patent request describing a rubber port cover capable of forming a watertight seal around an accessory input was also discovered last December, and offers a potential insight into Apple's plans. Then again, it could be yet another filing that's never acted on, ever.
One of the more entertaining rumours we’ve come across is based on an Apple patent describing a weird system where bumpers would spring out from the edges of the screen, ensuring the glass would never make contact with the floor. Sort of like an airbag for your iPhone. Just imagine that for a moment. Good stuff.
A 4K iPhone 7 Screen? Nah
Unless Apple gets really desperate, the iPhone 7 isn’t going to feature a 4K -- or even a QHD -- display. The iPhone 6S doesn’t even have a Full HD resolution, so such a move is basically out of the question. It seems more likely that the iPhone 7 will feature the same-sized 4.7-inch screen as the 6S, but with a slight jump in pixel count.
3D Touch will, of course, make an appearance too, but there’s also been talk of Apple switching from LCD to OLED technology. Without getting into the nitty-gritty, this essentially means that the iPhone 7’s display would be significantly better for watching movies and TV shows on. Think deeper blacks and more eye-popping colour.
The latest is that the switch will happen, but only on a temporary basis. It's believed that Apple favours a Micro LED system, but it isn't ready to go mainstream yet.
Most of Apple’s software additions are already in the hands of millions of iPhone users thanks to Apple’s new public beta program. You can read all about iOS 10 right here, especially all the weird stuff they’ve added to iMessage.
But much like Live Photos and 3D Touch for the iPhone 6S, it’s possible that we might see hardware-specific software. Also, with the improved home button, Apple might have specific hardware shortcuts or Siri capabilities just for the iPhone 7.
Since 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, last year, we don't expect a great deal of change in this area. The arrival of OIS would be great, though the iPhone 7 Plus may keep that to itself.
What we do expect is a larger camera lens, which will let in more light and make your stupid food shots look more food-like than ever. The dual camera setup we've heard so much about over recent months looks like it'll be reserved for the iPhone 7 Plus.
It's also likely that the iPhone 7 will be more powerful than the iPhone 6S. There have been mutterings of the inclusion of an impressive-sounding hexa-core A10 chip, though that would represent a massive step up from the dual-core processor in the iPhone 6S. Expect something a little less drastic. RAM, on the other hand, is likely to stay at 2GB.
Fresh reports suggest Apple’s working on a new wireless charging technology, which would allow users to power up their phones without direct contact with a power mat. We're not sure the company will bring the feature forward this year, as the technology required to capture enough energy is, for now at least, rather bulky.
Oh, and we'll let you make your own minds up on this crown dial piece.
iPhone 7: Price and Release
As you're no doubt already aware, this is iPhone week. The handset's set to launch tomorrow evening, with a release expected on either September 16th or 23rd... or something in-between. Or maybe after. We'll find out properly tomorrow, okay?
There are precious few price rumours floating around right now, but we can assume the iPhone 7 will cost a touch more than its predecessor, which currently retails from £539. However, we're genuinely pleased to report that Apple finally appears to have realised how utterly boring its colour range has been over the last few years, with five different options expected to land this time out, including black and, ahem, blacker black.