iPhone 7: Radical iPhone Pro dropped - until next year
Game-changing handset featuring an OLED screen rumoured to be joining the Apple smartphone line-up in 2017
Apple now looks certain to launch two iPhones next month rather than three.
The Cupertino giant will present a standard iPhone 7 and an iPhone 7 Plus boasting a larger display. Rumours of a third model have "come and gone", says 9 to 5 Mac.
Whispers of a trio of smartphones emerging this year have done the rounds over the last few months
But as the iPhone 7 Plus looks set to come with more RAM than the standard model and an exclusive dual-camera system, it seems Apple sees no point in introducing a third model, feeling the Plus has enough distinguishing features.
However, a three-tier iPhone line-up could happen in 2017, according to a report issued by Nikkei.
The site says Apple will introduce two regular smartphones as it has done since 2014 – one bigger and one smaller – but that a radical "iPhone Pro" with a curved, Samsung-like OLED screen will join the family.
This isn't a new rumour. as 2017's big iPhone overhaul has been talked about for some time now. However, unlike in the past, Nikkei mentions the smartphone as being a flagship "Pro" device rather than the next iPhone.
An OLED iPhone would be a very expensive item, outstripping the price tag of the already costly flagship phones. Nevertheless, Know Your Mobile says it is "a prospect that should have any Apple fan worth their salt palpably frothing at the mouth in anticipation" as it would be the most special iPhone ever introduced, and will mark ten years since the launch of the original in 2007.
iPhone 7: Everything we know about the next iPhone
Apple is tipped to reveal its next smartphone in September and this year should mark a big release too. Apple typically launches phones in two year cycles, with upgraded "S" models following freshly numbered releases. With the iPhone 6S out of the way, 2016 points strongly towards the release of the iPhone 7.
Rumours regarding what's in store have been doing the rounds for months, but there has been one consistent angle – that this year's iPhone won't look too different from the iPhone 6 and 6S.
Apple looks set to release the device using the same display sizes as the iPhone 6 generation of phones, so a standard iPhone 7 with a 4.7ins screen alongside a Plus version sporting a 5.5ins panel. Leaked schematics and dummy handsets seem to confirm this.
It's also expected to have the same design – an aluminium unibody frame, albeit with one or two minor revisions. A video posted on YouTube by Austin Evans provides a detailed look at what's expected.
The device in the video is a dummy handset and not an official Apple product, but numerous part and schematics leaks, many of them posted on NowhereElse by noted and accurate smartphone leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer, have now all but confirmed this is the design.
The antenna band has been repositioned so it's slightly neater, tucking in to the top and bottom edges instead of lapping around the back of the phone. The camera has changed form, too. It still bumps out but the cut-out is much larger and it's placed more in the corner of the device. It will be different still on the iPhone 7 Plus, which is hotly tipped to be getting a dual camera, with a pill-shaped housing.
The most controversial rumour? No headphone jack. Apple may drop the port on the next model and use the space instead for other hardware upgrades or slimmer iPhones in the future. If so, users will have to use the Lightning port to attach headphones or move on to a Bluetooth pair.
Closer to launch, more and more whispers have pointed towards Apple changing the home button. A recent report from Bloomberg says the iPhone will ditch a moving button altogether in favour of a touch-sensitive patch.
This would use the 3D Touch technology of the iPhone 6S, possibly alongside hardware taken from the latest MacBook. The trackpad on Apple's latest laptop doesn't truly press in but uses haptic feedback to simulate the sensation. According to Bloomberg's sources, the next iPhone could get the exact same treatment.
According to MacRumors, the iPhone 7's display technology is unlikely to move on from the baseline 1080p LCD screens of the iPhone 6, although improvements plucked from some of the firm's other product lines could make their way onto the device.
For instance, True Tone, the colour temperature-shifting feature seen on the 9.7ins Pad Pro, could be added, as could the tablet's DCI-P3 colour gamut, allowing the iPhone 7 to display more vivid and realistic hues.
As for the two displays, on the iPhone 6 and 6S, the larger Plus models have a pixel density of 401ppi, higher than the 326ppi used on the standard phone. Elsewhere, 3D Touch capabilities will almost certainly return.
As for when Apple will ditch LCD screens in favour of OLED panels, rumours have long centred on 2018, although there's evidence to suggest it could happen next year.
A research note from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, reported on MacRumors, outlines the big 2017 changes and it seems the iPhone 7 could be the last to use LCD technology.
Significant camera upgrades should be on the way if rumours and leaked pictures are to be believed.
The juiciest scoop is that the iPhone 7 Plus will get its very own exclusive system. Apple has been hotly tipped to give its big smartphone a dual camera in 2016 – a huge upgrade that could mean near DSLR-quality photographs. The technology is already being picked up by some other manufacturers.
The camera on the standard 4.7ins iPhone 7 has been overshadowed by the Plus rumours, although the new shape seen on leaked pictures can only point to big changes here, too. The large, gaping hole could house an increased CMOS sensor.
The processing power of the iPhone 7 will almost certainly jump up compared to the iPhone 6S, says PC Advisor, and Apple's A10 processor chipset could be installed on the phone alongside the M10 motion co-processor.
An increase in the RAM the processors are mated to isn't completely out of the question. A recent rumour and yet another leak from Ming-Chi Kuo says the iPhone 7 Plus could get 3GB RAM, up from the 2GB used on the iPhone 6S. The Verge picks up the angle, but there's nothing to suggest the upgrades will be on the standard phone - the upgrade could be exclusively to deal with the added demands of two camera sensors.
Elsewhere, it's strongly suggested iPhone users will be getting a long overdue bump in storage, with the iPhone 7 tipped to have twice as much space to save messages, apps, photos, videos and music.
At the moment, the iPhone 6S comes with an entry-level 16GB, which isn't good enough compared to most flagship Android rivals, which come with at least 32GB and the option of expandable memory through SD card slots.
It's reported the iPhone 7 will have 32GB as its base option – great news for those who want to get the cheapest phone. Above that, there should be a 128GB handset with a 256GB device acting as the range-topper.
Wireless charging rumours are never far away and early whispers inevitably tagged the iPhone 7 as an adopter of the technology.
However, the whispers have gone quiet since analysts began predicting that this year's release won't be a major leap forward from the iPhone 6S. It could be a feature waiting in the wings for the much-rumoured heavily revised iPhone said to be coming next year to mark the phone's tenth anniversary.
What could appear instead is an iPhone using the Lightning port to top up but with a much faster charge time, thanks to the support of new five volts/two amps charging. TechRadar says the leak would mean the iPhone 7 can charge as rapidly as many of its Quickcharge-ready Android rivals. Many expect this addition could be mated to a bigger battery capacity overall.
Pre-release rumours relating to a waterproof iPhone 7 have been few and far between, although clues found in other reports suggest it will be water-resistant, bringing the phone in line with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S7.
Apple's removing the headphone jack could be one way to improve water resistance as it would eliminate one of the ports most likely to cause a problem when exposed to water, while iOS 10 beta users have noticed references and warnings regarding nearby water in the next operating system, too, and patents unearthed by Patently Apple show the tech giant is interested in waterproof devices.
Apple has already revealed the software set to ship on the iPhone 7, unveiling iOS 10 at this year's Worldwide Developers Conference.
iMessage will undergo an overhaul, with users able to add emphasis with animations – the speech bubbles can pop or shake, for example, or an image can take over the entire screen. Added to that are stickers, bigger emojis, rich inline links and the ability to draw and send sketches instead of text.
Also expected are a new lock screen displaying more information and a big overhaul of the iPhone's photos app. Other Apple-brewed apps such as music, news, and maps will also get a redesign.
When will it go on sale?
According to esteemed smartphone insider Evan Blass, the iPhone 7 will be released on Friday 16 September.
From that date, 9to5Mac estimates Apple will hold its reveal on 7 September, with pre-orders beginning on two days later. This week long pre-order period is similar to past iPhone launches.
However, the site also says fans may have to wait a little longer as some US retailers appear to be planning merchandising resets – complete overhauls of displays and what's on the shelves – on 23 September. It's more than likely this is for the iPhone 7.
However, Apple is expected to announce its September event imminently, so it won't be a long wait until we get the first official signs of movement on the iPhone 7 launch front.
Did Apple plan to launch three new iPhones?
It now seems all but confirmed that Apple will, as it has since 2014, offer the iPhone in two sizes: a standard device with a larger "Plus" phablet sitting above it.
However, according to some tipsters, the tech giant had plans for a bumper iPhone release this year.
Rumours of an "iPhone Pro" have cropped up numerous times - but MacRumors says it's a whisper that can now be put to bed for good.
According to the reliable Apple insider website Mac Otakara, the tech giant will reveal an iPhone 7 and 7 Plus - the rumoured Pro model was nixed, or so it seems.
Apple may have been planning a single lens alternative to the dual camera-equipped iPhone 7 Plus to stand in if the dual-camera hardware proved difficult to manufacture on a grand scale. The dual camera phone would then become a small output "Pro" model.
However, there doesn't appear to be any manufacturing constraints and the iPhone 7 Plus will be the dual camera model.
iPhone 7 will have double the storage of the iPhone 6S
There's been much negativity about the iPhone 7 ahead of its release. Leaks and rumours paint a picture of a device very similar to the iPhone 6 and 6S, but without a headphone jack – a move that will irritate many, no doubt.
However, a fresh piece of information leaked by DigiTimes could be great news for those who like bargains.
According to the site, those buying the iPhone 7 this September look set to get twice the storage space they bargained for.
Apple is expected to double the amount of flash memory on its next iPhone right across the line. This means a base iPhone 7 with 32GB, a middle-range handset with 128GB and a huge 256GB range-topper – as big as the storage on the latest MacBook.
The best upgrade of those three is the 32GB for the cheapest model. MacRumors says the 16GB model often draws the ire of customers as with smartphones becoming more powerful and storage-consuming, it's now an obsolete amount of space.
Many want to get their hands on the cheapest new iPhone possible, but a lot of people find going for a 16GB model means constantly juggling photos, music and apps. It should also be a welcome move for those who don't like using cloud storage and prefer to keep features on their device.
There's still no expandable storage as on the Samsung Galaxy S7, but the 256GB iPhone 7 means this year's offerings will come with plenty of options and room for most users.
Apple is expected to reveal the phone in early September, with the iPhone hitting stores not too long after.