iPhone 7: Everything you need to know
The iPhone 7, 7 Plus and possibly 7 Pro are coming in 2016. Here's everything we know about Apple's next flagship smartphone, including the rumoured specs, price and whether we'll be saying goodbye to the headphone jack. We'll also look at whether we might be seeing three models: An iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 7 Pro.
iPhone 7 FAQ
iPhone 7 release date: September 16 or September 23 on sale (expected)
How much will the iPhone 7 cost: It should cost the same as the iPhone 6S so prices should start at £539/$649
What's new about the iPhone 7: If rumours are to be believed then the iPhone 7 will make more waves because of what it's missing than what it comes with. It's very likely that we've seen the last of the 3.5mm headphone jack. The home button could also be replaced with a Force Touch version and a variety of new colour options added. There could also be multiple models.
iPhone 7 news and rumours in brief
Update (22 July 2016): Supposed dummy units of the iPhone 7 has been leaked on Twitter. We're not convinced of their veracity, but you can take a look in the image section below. At the very least, they offer a prospective look at what we might expect from the iPhone 7's design.
A spate of recent reports seem to be solidifying out view of what the iPhone 7 will entail. Indeed, one report claims that Apple has started mass production of the handset, suggesting it's been finalised.
The Wall Street Journal claims that the iPhone 7 will be largely unchanged from the iPhone 6S, but for the notable omission of the 3.5mm headphone jack and possible inclusion of a dual-lens camera.
It's all part of a shift to three-year cycle rather than the usual two which currently sees S-models following plain-numbered models. As such, all the big changes will allegedly occur with the 2017 model, which could feature a bold all-glass design and an OLED display.
Meanwhile, reports from Japan claim that the iPhone 7 will ship with the same old Apple EarPods, but will feature a Lightning adapter. Which sounds like a bit of a fudge to us.
Of course, we should also balance this against reports from a Gangzhou-based repair shop that suggest the iPhone 7's Lighting port assembly still features a headphone jack. Interesting.
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iPhone 7 Release Date UK & US – When will the new iPhone 7 come out?
Apple, more so than many of its rivals, is a creature of habit, which makes it very simple to predict the iPhone 7 release date.
The best strategy is to look at previous iPhone launches, which we’ve outlined below:
- iPhone 6S – Wednesday, September 9 (reveal), Saturday, September 19 (release date)
- iPhone 6 – Tuesday, September 9 (reveal), Friday, September 19 (release date)
- iPhone 5S – Tuesday, September 10 (reveal), Friday, September 20 (release date)
- iPhone 5 – Wednesday, September 12 (reveal), Friday, September 21 (release date)
Based on those dates, we’d expect the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus reveal to take place on either:
- Tuesday, September 6
- Wednesday, September 7
- Tuesday, September 13
- Wednesday, September 14
And we’d expect the iPhone 7 release date to fall on either Friday, September 16, or Friday, September 23. If we were forced to mark our calendars, we’d probably place our bets on September 14 and September 23 for reveal and release, but we can’t say for sure until Apple starts sending out invites.
The good news is that Apple has already kicked off mass-production of the 4.7-inch iPhone 7, at least according to a new report. Journalist and reputable leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer – better known on Twitter as @Onleaks – claims the final model manufacturing has “slowly started” at the Pegatron factory.
Along with Foxconn, Pegatron is one of Apple’s primary manufacturing partners. It’s a Taiwanese company, although the lion’s share of its employees are based in China. According to Hemmerstoffer, only the 4.7-inch iPhone 7 is being manufactured by Pegatron, not the 5.5-inch ‘Plus’ version. He previously alleged that Foxconn had won the contract for the larger iPhone 7.
Naturally, we can’t verify Hemmerstoffer’s claims and, although he has a great track record for mobile leaks, you should take this report with due caution.
Related: Android vs iOS vs Windows 10 Mobile
iPhone 7 Features – What’s new about the iPhone 7?
One of the most obvious upgrades we’re sure to see with the iPhone 7 is the introduction of a new processor. It’s generally accepted that Apple’s A10 system-on-a-chip will feature in the new device, bringing with it assured improvements to processing and graphics.
It’s also looking very likely that Apple is going to abandon the 3.5mm headphone jack that you use to connect your headphones. Instead, users will be forced to plug in via the Lightning port, which will mean purchasing an expensive adapter for many, or using Bluetooth headphones. Conveniently, Apple's latest Back to School promotion sees the firm offering student buyers of Mac devices a free pair of wireless Beats headphones. They'll be perfect for a headphone jack-free iPhone, right?
Camera upgrades are also a dead cert. There’s potential to finally get optical image stabilisation on the smaller iPhone 7, something reserved for Plus models only until now. We’re also likely to see improved low-light performance on both the iPhone 7 cameras.
And finally, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will both feature Apple's upcoming iOS 10 software. The new software version was revealed at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, and we'll outline some of the additions below.
Is there an iPhone 7 Pro?
Apple is clearly a fan of the word 'Pro', sticking it onto laptops and iPads with glee abandon, but we're yet to see it on a phone. Frankly, we're a little surprised by this and there are rumours suggesting the iPhone 7 will come in three flavours; iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 7 Pro.
Three iPhones to debut this year?
As you can see by the leaked image above (take with a pinch of salt, please) the 'Pro' model has the dual-camera set-up and the Smart Connector ripped straight from the iPad Pro. It also looks like it'll be the same display size as the iPhone 6S Plus and the iPhone 7 Plus.
Should I wait for the iPhone 7?
If the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus aren’t hugely popular, we’ll eat our keyboards. Apple devices always command hype like no other, and so we don’t need to do much convincing for fans of the brand.
That said, Android is now a slick, powerful operating system that most will find as easy to use as iOS. And with formidable rivals like the Samsung Galaxy S7, LG G5 and Nexus 6P already available, the iPhone 7 is very much up against it.
What’s more, the iPhone 7 will be launching at a similar time to other expected handsets like the Samsung Galaxy Note 6 and Google’s Nexus 2016 handset(s).
The new Samsung Galaxy S7
And if you're a fan of iOS but hate the large 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch frames of flagship iPhones, you might want to consider the iPhone SE, Apple's new 4-inch smartphone. The iPhone SE was unveiled on March 21, 2016, and released to the public on March 31. It boasts a near-identical design to the iPhone 5S, and comes in 16GB and 64GB storage variants.
It's worth a mention that the iPhone 7 doesn't sound like it will offer significant upgrades over the iPhone 6S. So if you've got last year's handset, you might want to wait for the next model, which is rumoured to be where the real changes will come.
Related: iPhone 7 Storage
iPhone 7 Videos and Images:
Though it’s still early days, we’ve already seen a tonne of iPhone 7 video and image leaks. You can check out these in our iPhone 7 images, pictures and concepts round-up. In the meantime, check out this video. This is our biggest look yet at what the next iPhone could look like. In the clip, which you can see below, the reported iPhone 7 is shown alongside the outgoing iPhone 6S.
It's also worth giving these shots, tweeted by Twitter user The Malignant, a look over. While they're almost certainly not official Apple wares, they give us a good idea of what we might expect from the iPhone 7, at least in terms of design:
iPhone 7 Specs
Details on iPhone 7 specs are still light at this point, but we’ve heard some early rumours nonetheless.
First up is the probable introduction of the A10 system-on-a-chip, the next generation of Apple’s custom-built processors. While it’s not clear what improvements will be in store, we’ll likely see power efficiency savings, increased performance, and a boost to graphical processing.
It’s also widely rumoured that Intel is courting Apple to supply the modems for the iPhone 7. Until now, Qualcomm has been the lead supplier for modems in Apple’s mobile devices, but Intel is said to have a 1,000-strong team of employees on the case. However, it’s worth noting that Qualcomm isn’t being entirely shut out; apparently, it will still make a significant share of the modems.
Related: Apple Watch review
The rumour is mostly interesting because of the suggestion that Apple is keen to reduce its reliance on Qualcomm. That’s a similar sentiment that’s reportedly held by senior Samsung officials, which explains the company’s recent push with its own Exynos processors. It’s said that Apple is looking to wean itself off third-party suppliers in the future too.
As far as other specs go, we’re not quite sure. The most recent round of iPhones featured 2GB of RAM, so we’d expect the same with the iPhone 7. After all, Apple has historically been very cautious and considered when it comes to arbitrary hardware upgrades.
Recent rumours have suggested that Apple will finally abandon the 16GB variant with the iPhone 7. The latest analyst to contend that is IHS Technology's Kevin Wang, who said: "Supply chain research shows that the new iPhone's RAM is 2GB, ROM 32GB onwards."
But Wang isn't alone. Speaking to TrustedReviews, CSS Insight Chief of Research Ben Wood said:
"I think it's a pretty good bet. I think for the next generation of iPhone, it would make a lot of sense for Apple to offer bigger memory configurations. The cost of memory keeps dropping all the time. So the marginal cost for Apple to put that really huge memory allocation in the phone would be minimal, and it would make a lot of sense."
A recent reported via research firm TrendForce also claimed that Apple has "settled on most of the specs for the next iPhone," including a 256GB storage option. That's not the first time we've heard such a contention. Speaking to TrustedReviews, Avril Wu, another TrendForce analyst, said:
"We believe 256GB storage being adopted in the next generation of iPhone is really likely to happen. However, even if 256GB is the case, it will only be used in 5.5-inch model's 'premium' version."
We also heard from James Moar, Senior Analyst at Juniper Research, who told us:
"If a 256GB iPhone is to be released, it will be as part of a wider...offering (potentially an iPhone 7 Plus), that can be used in the workplace in the same way as the iPad Pro is intended to be."
You can read more about the prospects for iPhone 7 storage here.
iPhone 7 Design:
Apple is planning a major rethink of the iPhone design according to top industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, of KGI Securities - but more recently reports suggest that it's unlikely to arrive this year.
On April 18, Kuo issued guidance that Apple is hoping to differentiate the iPhone from rivals by adopting an "all-glass" design with an AMOLED screen.
This could mean that we'll soon see an end to the aluminium chassis that has featured on previous iPhones, as Kuo notes:
"If iPhone 7 still uses an aluminium casing in 2016, it will be the fifth year in a row that iPhone has done so, which means there is no longer a feeling of freshness to appeal to consumers. Also, a lot of Apple's (US) competitors are also adopting aluminium casings, which means iPhone no longer has a clear edge due to a lack of differentiation. On expectations that iPhone shipments will decline in 2016, we believe Apple will be more strongly motivated to use non-aluminium casings in 2017 in a bid to enhance the competitiveness of iPhone by offering an all-new form-factor design."
Unfortunately, Kuo expects that the all-glass iPhone won't actually arrive until 2017, which means this big change is more likely to appear in the expected iPhone 7S or iPhone 8.
Kuo also recently revealed that he believes the iPhone 7 won't have "many attractive selling points", putting a damper on prospects for this year's Apple flagship.
We've also seen leaked (and consequently unverifiable) schematics that suggest the iPhone 7 will be both shorter and thicker than the iPhone 6S.
iPhone 7 Battery Life:
The iPhone 6S uses a 1,715 mAh lithium ion battery, which Apple says offers 14 hours of talk time, 11 hours of video playback, and 10 days of standby time.
As the iPhone 7 isn’t expected to differ hugely from the iPhone 6S, it seems probable that a similar battery capacity will feature again.
However, we could see improvements to battery life, even if the battery capacity doesn’t change. That’s because it’s likely Apple will make some efficiency improvements with its A10 processor.
Still the Galaxy S7 has significantly increased the size of its battery so Apple may have to do something similar or risk being left behind in the battery life stakes.
iPhone 7 Screen and Features
The most contentious rumour about the iPhone 7 is that Apple will remove the headphone jack. Several leaks seem to suggest that Apple will drop the 3.5mm audio jack on the next iPhone, forcing users to instead connect their headphones via the Lightning port. That means, of course, that you won't be able to use your existing headphones, unless they either support a Lightning connection, or you're willing to pay for an adapter.
But a new report from China might put a hold to such predictions - or at least raise a few doubts.
Gangzhou-based repair shop Rock Fix has been posting pictures of alleged iPhone 7 components on Chinese social media (via Engadget). One of those components is a Lightning port assembly for the 4.7-inch model. What's notable about this piece is that it still has a headphone jack attached to it. Does this mean Apple has delayed its 3.5mm-ditching plans until next year's model?
Another interesting feature here is the presence of a second SIM slot, which would be a first for the iPhone range. We also see a 256GB memory chip and a dual-lens camera for the 5.5-inch model. Of course, this is all still just speculation at this point. There are various conflicting rumours going around at the moment about the iPhone 7's final feature set.
One of the more compelling leaks came courtesy of Japanese magazine Mac Fan. The publication revealed supposed schematics for the iPhone 7, with no headphone jack in sight. Of course, it's impossible to verify such an image this early, so take it with due caution:
However, the death knell isn't necessarily sounding for the headphone jack. French tech site Nowhereelse – known for its regular mobile industry leaks – has published an image that seems to depict a Lightning cable assembly for the iPhone 7. The assembly is clearly different than the one built into the current iPhone 6S. But what's notable about the image is that a headphone jack features on the iPhone 7 assembly.
Nowhereelse claims to have acquired the image from an anonymous source posting to Chinese social media site Weibo. Unfortunately, we can't verify this image either. That's important, because the assembly pictured could quite easily be faked. We have, however, seen images of what the Lighting-to-headphone adapters might look like. Chinese accessory maker Tama Electric posted images of three such adapters online:
Adding fuel to the fire, new photos posted online via Weibo in July seem to back up rumours that Apple will offer its stock EarPod headphones with a Lightning jack. The photos appear to show a hardwired Lightning solution rather than the 3.5mm jack with adapter often rumoured. However, leaks of the nature are impossible to verify, so take this with due caution.
On the matter of connectors, a recently leaked image that depicted a never-before-seen iPhone showed a device with three dots near the base. Many speculated that this could be a Smart Connector.
But a more recent report suggests this image is false. According to Japanese Apple-centric news site Mac Otakara, Apple has "shelved" plans for a Smart Connector on the iPhone 7.
To date, the Smart Connector has only appeared on the ipad Pro. It's used to let the tablet connect to Apple's custom-built Smart Keyboard accessory. If Apple's next iPhone did feature a smart connector, it would likely serve a similar (if not identical) function.
Another rumour doing the rounds is that the iPhone 7 will come bundled with wireless Beats in-ear headphones. If this does happen we’d expect them to be Apt-X compatible so that audio quality isn’t significantly compromised by being compressed over Bluetooth.
Several leaks also appear to show the inclusion of dual-speakers on the bottom of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. However, as this rumour is based on early case renders, it’s tough to speak to the legitimacy of the claim.
In terms of sensors, we’re not expecting any huge departures from previous Apple handsets. For reference, the iPhone 6S featured a Touch ID fingerprint scanner, a barometer, a three-axis gyro, an accelerometer, a proximity sensor, and an ambient light sensor.
However, there's new evidence that the iPhone 7 could come with a 'Force Touch ID' button. The report stems from analyst firm Cowen and Company, which claims that Apple is looking into replacing the physical home button on its next smartphone with a capacitive alternative.
According to the analyst firm's research, Apple would utilise the Force Touch screen technology implemented in the iPhone 6S to enable pressure sensitivity and haptic (or Taptic, to use Apple's nomeclature), feedback for a virtual equivalent. The resulting 'button' would, naturally, sit flush with the display.
iPhone 7 Benchmarks
As with every new iPhone, we'd expect to see a nice speed gain. While this has yet to be confirmed, we'd guess we'll be seeing an A10 (following on from the A9 in the iPhone 6S and the A9X in the iPad Pro) SoC power the iPhone 7. And, would you believe it, some of the Geekbench benchmark scores has reportedly already been leaked. According to the results, the new iPhone will have an 18% boost over the A9, which doesn't seem much considering the A9 was around 43% faster than the A8.
iPhone 7 Software: iOS 10 confirmed
We'll be seeing the upcoming iOS 10 appear on the iPhone 7.
Apple showed off iOS 10 at its WWDC 2016 event. It's set to feature a much smarter, more powerful lock screen with glanceable notifications and advanced widgets. The new OS will also make better used of 3D Touch, with many functions accessible without having to enter apps.
Credit: Jermaine Smit
Siri will be a lot more powerful, with third party app support being added at last.
The new dedicated Home app, meanwhile, will turn the iPhone 7 into a proper smart home hub.
iPhone 7 Camera
A report from the China Times published in June suggested that Apple had scrapped plans to introduce a dual-lens camera to the iPhone 7 – specifically the larger rumoured iPhone 7 Plus. The report didn’t name its sources, but some market watchers suggest it was enough to cause stock prices to fall for a number of firms reportedly involved in the manufacturing, including LG Innotek, Japan’s Alp Electric, and Taiwan’s Largan Precision.
Shortly after, analysts have spoken out against the original report, saying that it’s very unlikely Apple would make such a key design change so late in the game, as reported by investment site Barrons. A note from Morgan Stanley reads:
“While we don’t rule out the possibility that Apple could change the spec just two months before the iPhone 7 launch, we are unsure about the reliability of the source of the information, and our checks with the supply chain suggest so far there have been no changes to order forecasts for [the second half of 2016].”
CLSA, meanwhile, said:
“Our analysts spoke to Alps and LG Innotek, which both denied the speculation. Such a last-minute spec change is unlikely as we believe dual cameras will be a key feature for Apple. Moreover, suppliers have expanded capacity already and look confident to begin mass production next month.”
Rumours that Apple is plotting a significant camera upgrade for the iPhone 7 have been circulating for the past few weeks. It’s alleged that Apple has already placed a high number of orders for a dual-lens camera for the bigger of the two iPhone models expected to launch this September.
Apple hasn’t made any official comment on the matter, but a number of different publications have cited industry sources suggesting the design change will go ahead. The iPhone 7 is expected to boasts minimal modifications compared to the iPhone 6S, so improvements to the camera could be one way to appease prospective phone buyers.
Watch our iPhone 6S video review:
Related: Apple Watch 2 release date
iPhone 7 Price:
As with the release date, the iPhone 7 price isn’t too tough to guess. After all, Apple tends to stick with similar mark-ups year in, year out.
Here are the UK launch prices for the most recent Apple handsets:
- iPhone 5 – £529
- iPhone 5S – £549
- iPhone 6 – £539
- iPhone 6S – £539
Based on those figures, we’d expect to see the iPhone 7 price fall around £539 for the base model.
However, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a slight price hike – perhaps £549? After all, the rival Samsung Galaxy S7 launched at £569, and Apple would be remiss to appear less premium than its South Korean competitor.
Watch our iPhone SE video review:
What would you like to see from the iPhone 7? Let us know in the comments.