While the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have themselves only been out for a few months, the iRumour mill has already begun spinning its mysterious web of speculation about its successor.
Will it be called the iPhone 6s or the iPhone 7? Will it get another screen-size boost? Will it shoot 8K video from its 32MP camera?
In truth, we don’t yet know. But as the first snippets of info about it leak out, we can make some educated guesses and hopefully help determine which of the rumours to believe.
So on this page we’ll be gathering together all the speculation, all the hearsay and, occasionally, all the actual hard news about the Apple iPhone 7 or iPhone 6s or whatever it’s called. Read on for all of the latest.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Let’s start off easy. Apple iPhone 7? Apple iPhone 6s? Apple iPhone Xtreme?
Only the first two options are likely, and judging by Apple’s past behaviour, we’re more likely to end up with another ‘s’ device. Then again, Apple could ditch that system altogether and go straight for the 7. It’s known for its sporadic naming systems, after all.
What do we think? We’re going with 7 right now, based on the fact that iPhone 6s Plus sounds stupid.
A FAMILIAR FACE
If Apple follows its tried-and-tested iPhone formula, the iPhone 7 won’t look drastically different from the iPhone 6 – retaining its Touch ID home button and organic, rounded appearance. The big design changes tend to skip a generation, leaving Sir Jony time to fine-tune his scribbles.
Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun, does it?
Past rumours have pointed to liquidmetal being used to make up the iPhone’s body, supported by an Apple patent outlining how the material could be used in future iPhones and watches.
The advanced alloy, made from a mix of aluminium, titanium, copper and nickel is more resistant to dents and scratches than aluminium itself.
While it sounds far-fetched, it’s already used in some luxury watches and smartphones such as some of those made by Vertu.
Apple has also used the material to make some of its SIM ejector tools, as part of a low-risk test of its manufacturing capabilities. That may not represent absolute proof, but it’s a good start.
Apart from fancy Terminator-like construction magic, we expect the lightning port, precision-drilled microspeakers and rounded corners to return.
It’s unclear whether or not Apple will release an iPhone 7 and a larger iPhone 7 Plus at this stage. But it seems likely that both will get upgrades. We also expect both to retain their screen sizes – so 4.7in for the iPhone 7 and 5.5in for the iPhone 7 Plus.
Size apart, it now looks less likely that the next iPhones will get sapphire displays.
Apple had been exploring the possibility of giving its iPhones sapphire screens for some time. Unscratchable to all things but diamond, a sapphire display would laugh in the face of keys, loose change, and even nails. Though why you’d be walking around with the latter jingling away in your pocket is beyond us.
Apple already uses sapphire to protect its Touch ID buttons and camera lenses from scratches, and the upcoming Apple Watch’s display will also be covered by the hardy stuff.
So the signs were there. Adding further fuel to the fire, Apple signed a multi-million dollar deal with GT Advanced Technologies in November 2013, providing it with the material and machinery to mass produce sapphire screens in larger numbers than ever.
However, that deal has now fallen through, and GT Advanced Technologies filed for bankruptcy last month. That doesn’t mean we won’t ever see a sapphire screen on an iPhone, but it seems unlikely that it’ll make its way on to the iPhone 7, especially with all those sapphire-coated Apple Watches waiting in the wings.
Another possibility is the inclusion of a wraparound flexible display, Samsung Galaxy Note Edge-style, thanks to some Apple patents spotted earlier this year.
Designer Martin Hajek has rendered an edge-to-edge display that wraps around the home button. Because, well, why the hell not?
Failing that, we could, at the very least, see a reduction of the bezels, allowing the overall footprint of the device to shrink without cutting down the screen size.
And finally, of course, we have the resolution to consider. The iPhone 6s’ screen is lovely, but it still has yet to reach the pixel-packed heights of a full HD display, let alone a 2K one.
We could see Apple grace the iPhone 7 Plus with a 2K screen and upgrade the standard iPhone 7 to 1080p. Stranger things have happened.
THE BEST IPHONE CAMERA YET?
It’s been a while since we’ve seen a megapixel boost in an iPhone, but the iPhone 7 could finally crack Apple’s 8MP barrier with a jump to 13 or 16 megapixels. Then again, it could smash through it entirely with a 21MP sensor.
John Gruber, whose predictions have been accurate in the past, believes that “next year’s camera might be the biggest camera jump ever”.
According to his source, Apple is working on a two-lens system which somehow takes DSLR-quality photos.
It sounds too good to be true, but as Tech Radar points out, Sony – who supplies iPhones with camera modules – has already revealed a 21MP stacked CMOS sensor with 192-point autofocus for tracking and focusing on fast-moving objects.
Not so far-fetched now, is it? Well, maybe a bit, but we’re swallowing plenty of salt while crossing our fingers all the same.
Megapixels aren’t the only important factor however, and it would be great to see the optical image stabilisation of the 6 Plus make its way into the regular-sized iPhone 7.
That would allow for even better low-light shots, as the lens can remain open for longer, letting in more light, and throwing up more detail, without resulting in unusable blur.
Update 10/02/15: According to the latest rumours, the next iPhone will be keeping its 8MP sensor, for another year at least.
The iPhone has retained an 8MP sensor since the 4s. Apple has however updated other aspects of the camera system itself, and it still takes some of the best smartphone snaps around, despite the competition from higher numbers like the 20.7MP camera found in Sony’s Xperia flagships.
One reason for retaining the same sensor could be due to a “limited supply of CMOS sensors”, according to analyst Jeff Pu.
We could still see some tweaks however, including the 6 Plus’ optical image stabilisation making its way into the standard iPhone model.
It would make sense for the iPhone 7 to get the A8X processor that was revealed alongside the iPad Air 2 last month.
It’s clocked slightly faster at 1.5GHz, which, on paper, means 13% and 55% nippier performance in single-core and threaded-core operations respectively. Not to mention a more powerful GPU for even more graphical grunt in games.
No, numbers aren’t the be-all and end-all, but if the iPhone 7 does get blessed with the A8X (and, ideally, 2GB of RAM while we’re at it), then we’re definitely not going to complain.
The iPhone 6 finally brought Apple into the world of NFC, but it has yet to dip its toes into the wireless charging pool. The Apple Watch does have wireless charging smarts however, so Apple could choose to transfer them over to the iPhone 7 too.
Updated 05/02/15: According to Re/code‘s sources familiar with the matter, Samsung will be making the chip that’ll power the iPhone 7.
The South Korean teach giant will reportedly manufacture the 14nm chips in its newest factory, and has beaten Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), who made the processors for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
There’s very little information on iOS 9 at the time of writing, but we’ll be sure to update this preview with new information as and when we get it.
We don’t expect any major aesthetical changes from iOS 8, especially after the last big overhaul for iOS 7, which is fine by us. It’s still gorgeous, after all.
As for what we want to see? Well, not to beat a dead horse or anything, but widgets, and general home screen customisation (such as the launchers on Android) would be nice for people looking to stand out from the crowd.
The ability to default to third-party apps for certain tasks would be great, too.
Go on Apple. You finally gave us third-party keyboards. Why not go the whole way, eh?
PRICE AND RELEASE DATE
If past launches are anything to go by, the iPhone 7 should be released around 20 September. There’s no reason to expect prices to change much either, so we expect it to launch at the same price point as the current iPhone 6.
We’ll update this feature with news and rumours as they appear, so keep it bookmarked for all the latest.