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iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus expected features, improvements and innovation

In Op-Ed, Tech by Viv0 Comments

Apple is going to hold an event in March, at which we expect the company to launch new Apple Watch accessories, possibly the iPad Air 3 as well as the rumored 4-inch iPhone, now dubbed the iPhone 5se. The iPhone 7 is going to be the flagship of the year, however, and it’s not expected to make an appearance until September 2016. There’s quite enough time left for Apple to design, engineer and manufacture the new flagship, but rumors and leaks from supply chains as well as company insiders suggest that the company is well ahead of time with the development of the iPhone 7. There are a lot of speculations and rumors surrounding the features that will be present and those that will be removed from the iPhone 7, as well as leaks about its design elements and hardware upgrades. Although it is advised to take this info with a grain of salt,  it does reveal a lot of what we can and can’t expect Apple to do with the iPhone 7.

There are a lot of devices prepared for 2016 from Apple, but undoubtedly the iPhone 7 duo is the most hyped among them all. As usual, the company will position its flagship devices to compete against major players in the Android and Windows worlds, such as Samsung, Lenovo, Microsoft, HTC and LG. Apple has recorded growth in sales since the iPhone 6 and conversion from other platforms to iOS has increased in the past couple of years. With the improvement of hardware, Apple raised interest in Android users towards its new solution. Despite many Android fans saying that Apple is playing catch-up more than anything, the company’s popularity has still been growing. Its move into China has also contributed significantly to revenue and sales, as the largest tech market in the world received the iPhone 6 launch rather well. Although it wasn’t the splash Apple wanted it to be, most Chinese customers were glad to see Apple moving into the market. We can’t say the same for Chinese tech companies, tough.

Release date

When it comes to when the iPhone 7 release date falls this year, it’s pretty easy to estimate since Apple has been quite consistent with their release schedule in the past couple of years. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were introduced in September 2014, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus during the same month in 2015, which suggests that the iPhone 7 release date is also going to fall in September 2016. Most insiders and Apple fans are convinced that the Cupertino giant will continue to release two different handsets under the same moniker, a smaller and larger one, the latter most likely being the iPhone 7 Plus. However, there is speculation that since a 4-inch iPhone is on its way, the smaller 4.7 or 5-inch variant of the iPhone 7 might not see the light of day. Despite that being a plausible suggestion, it is unlikely, because the iPhone 5se, if that’s going to be its name, will most likely belong to older flagship families, most likely the iPhone 6 – replicating its specs and features in a smaller form factor. At the same time, we could assume that the small handset might be dubbed iPhone 7 Mini, in which case launching two smaller and one large handset would be a weird endeavor on Apple’s part. Considering Apple is eager to try all types of marketing strategies, it could be possible. I do however lean towards the usual, an iPhone 5se and two instances of the iPhone 7.

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Design

Since it’s most likely that the iPhone 7 will also have a plus variant, I think it’s safe to assume that both will feature the same design elements. Becoming the flagships for 2016, these handsets will definitely feature top-notch design elements and materials. Rumors of aircraft-grade metal unibodies reinforce the idea and pertain to Apple’s usual goals when it comes to designing their phones. They’ve made a lot of progress in designing their phones and have received a lot of positive feedback since launching the iPhone 6, so keeping with traditional unibodies, chamfered edges and thin, light materials seems to be the norm and will most likely be representative of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus design. Although I don’t think Apple will go any thinner than the iPhone 6S line-up, choosing different materials might impact the weight of the handset, if true.

One of the most debated rumor about the iPhone 7 is the supposed removal of the headphone jack. While at first, a couple of months ago, people were talking about how there would be no 3.5 mm jack on the handset, now they’re saying that the jack will actually be replaced by something iPhone fans have been asking for a long time: a new, better speaker. Making more room for improvement and also leaving room for higher quality audio experiences through the Lightning port, letting go of the jack sounds like a good idea to me. Despite it causing at least a bit of discomfort because users will most likely need to have adapters on hand sometimes, the decision sounds like something Apple would do and a decision many would eventually learn to appreciate and even enjoy. There are many people out there who see the advantages and disadvantages of this move, and since there are so many reports about it out there, I tend to believe that at least this one rumor is completely accurate.

Having new, better speakers on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus would be an upgrade for those who have been complaining about sound quality on the iPhone. At the same time, it would be a decision that passes people by, if they don’t use speakers, like me. Those would definitely be impacted by the need for adapters, especially if they already have an arsenal of high-end headphones and earbuds, but having audio delivered digitally would definitely eclipse the discomfort and small extra investment the change would require. How do you guys feel about this particular change in iPhone 7 design? I think I would definitely appreciate the higher-quality sound and I wouldn’t mind having to buy an adapter, as long as Apple doesn’t overprice them – as they usually do with accessories, in my opinion.

Other elements of the handset’s design are still a mystery, with various ideas floating around. Some leaks suggest that TouchID on the iPhone 7 would be integrated into the display, leaving room for a much more bezelless design. Others think that a joystick could be embedded into the TouchID up front for gaming purposes, and that sounds plausible too, since Apple had filed patents with regards to such an improvement a couple of years ago. With the focus on VR intensifying, it would be a way in which Apple could adhere to the new trend in mobile gaming. At the same time, the packaging of the handset could follow down the road of Alcatel and turn into a VR headset in an attempt to give Apple fans a sense of belonging to the recent popular culture trend revolving around virtual reality. Since Apple has been dabbling with VR themselves, it’s likely for the company to showcase yet another new device in the future, although I don’t think it will be ready for the September iPhone 7 launch event.

According to Tech Times, based on an iPhone 7 render, there’s also a possibility of the flagship finally sporting waterproof certification and a ceramic body, similar to the OnePlus X’ ceramic version. Most industry insiders are not convinced by these assumptions however. It would be nice for the handset to have some degree of waterproof certification, as more and more people seem to demand it, but I don’t think enough people need such a thing for Apple to consider implementing it. Waterproof smartphones tend to be niche products, like the Active family of devices from Samsung, and the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are not supposed to be niche products, but flagship devices. Moreover, adding waterproof certification would bring cost up significantly. We could assume that removing the headphone jack could back up this theory as the Lightning port could more easily be secured on its own, but I’m not sure we can base assumptions off of that only.

Hardware and Display

Apple has had a bit of a shift in focus since the iPhone 5 and 5S, demonstrating with their 2014 flagship line that the company is striving towards merging performance and appearance into a single device. With the iPhone 6S and 6S+, they did the same, improving processors, camera, adding new features like 3D Touch as seen in the Apple Watch and more, in order to offer customers an up-to-date experience. While some might say Apple is still behind on the performance and user experience side of things, the company has made significant progress and Android fans that switched to iOS in the past couple of years seem to confirm that. With the iPhone 7, there will be a clear focus on improving the user experience even more and adding new functionalities to a device that’s supposed to be omnipresent in our lives. Although in the usual fashion, Apple has not given away anything about iPhone 7 specs and hardware, there are quite a few reports and leaks out there that provide some insight into what we could expect.

Up front, the iPhone 7 might showcase a new display, Super AMOLED, replacing the LED-backlit IPS LCD display that iPhone users have been used to in the past. Using SAMOLED would help the iPhone 7 achieve more vivid colors, higher brightness levels and higher resolution, With the intense attention on virtual reality and how it can be experienced through smartphone displays, it’s pretty likely for Apple to make use of these types of displays and launch phones with higher resolution than before. Rumors say that Samsung is going to be the very company to provide the displays to Apple, although they also say the South Korean company lost the bid to make the chipsets in favor of TSMC – more on that later. However, analysts with good reputation when it comes to speculation said that Apple is unlikely to use OLED, AMOLED or Super AMOLED anytime soon, regardless of what company is manufacturing them. They say that most likely, Apple will stick with what it knows best for now, and that we should expect the same type of LCD displays on the iPhone 7. One interesting tidbit that surfaced in the past few days, however, suggests that while we won’t have brighter colors and higher resolution, we might have water resistance, or even waterproof rating.

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In a report from MacRumors, the editor states that Japan Display and their new Pixel Eyes screen are pegged for inclusion in the iPhone 7. The display in question is supposed to be water resistant and support touch and pen inputs regardless of humidity. That means that users will be able to use the touch functions of the display even if they have wet or slippery fingers, without damaging the hardware. That’s an interesting prospect to take into consideration and it reinforces the earlier mentioned idea that the iPhone 7 might be waterproof when it is launched. It’s a possibility, although some degree of water resistance and not submerged resistance is more likely in my opinion. The Pixel Eyes display from Japan Display also boasts with slimmer hardware that can allow manufacturers to create smartphones with thinner bezels around the sides, which once again supports the theory that the iPhone 7 design will be thinner in bezels.

If Apple ends up using these new Pixel Eyes displays, we might even see the iPhone 7 launch take a page out of Samsung’s book. Since we’re pretty convinced that two different sizes of the flagship are being prepared, it could be that the larger 5.5-inch version will also come with a stylus or the Apple Pencil that was introduced with the iPad Pro. There have been mixed reviews surrounding the input device and as with Force Touch becoming 3D Touch, the Apple Pencil could also become a pretty neat, everyday stylus for the iPhone 7. However, there’s always a chance that the Japan Display screens are not made for the iPhone 7, but for a future edition of the flagship. At the moment, all I can say when it comes to display is to expect an iPhone 7 with a 4.7-inch one and another with a 5.5-inch one. What features and design elements they will include is a mystery right now. As for what resolution, I think it’s safe to say that either the same resolution as on the iPhone 6S (750 x 1334) or a higher resolution that’s closer to 2K or 1080p for both the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models.

On the hardware side of things, Apple is most likely going to use the new chips that TSMC are manufacturing. According to Reuters, this year TMSC has exclusivity for the iPhone 7 chipsets, meaning Samsung is out of the way for now. Last year, both chip manufacturers contributed to the Apple A9 rollout. The iPhone 7 will most likely harbor the Apple A10 chipset. built with new, faster technology and with high-end processing power in mind. Samsung being out of the picture looks like a big blow to the South Korean manufacturer, who has been in the game with Apple for the past few years. Although the reasoning behind TSMC’s exclusivity is unknown, it’s pretty much confirmed. The Apple A10 SoC is going to be built using the 10 nm manufacturing technology, providing more stability and increased performance for the iPhone 7.

The usual setup for flagship smartphones proposes between 2 and 4 GB RAM, and since Apple has been upping their game lately, I think it possible for 3 GB RAM to be on board both models of the iPhone 7. Backed by the usual storage options ranging from 16 GB to 128 GB depending on model and price, the setup would be enough for a high-end GPU that could support VR content, for example. At the same time, features like NFC, 3D Touch, Touch ID and the usual should be no board, although there are more and more reports claiming that the iPhone 7 will include wireless charging in the mix. If Apple adds that bit of extra to the hardware, it would catch up to current trends we’ve seen with Samsung phones, the best sellers in the Android market. Wireless charging features would also mean that iPhone 7 users would be able to more conveniently charge their phones, although it does all depend on what capacity batteries within the phone will have. Apple fans have been discontent with battery life on previous devices, but the same thing could be said of the Android market as well. Battery life in smartphones currently averages at about 2 days, and Apple hasn’t really reached that average just yet. With the rumors of a thinner body taken into consideration, it’s hard to imagine the company focusing on increasing the battery size and life as well as implementing wireless charging. I think the iPhone 7 will be somewhere in the middle and will take from Samsung’s book once again, using better charging tech and processor efficiency to maximize battery life and capacity.

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Camera

One of the reasons why iPhones get a lot of praise is their camera. Apple has been using high-end iSight cameras on the rears and FaceTime cameras on the fronts of their releases, most fans being happy with the results. Smartphone photography usually finds its home in iCloud or on social media, and for these purposes, iPhones have been big players. Other manufacturers like Samsung, LG and HTC have brought considerable improvements to smartphone photography, and are expected to bring more this year. The expectations are the same when it comes to the iPhone 7. With rumors of dual-cameras making their way onto the iPhone 7, the handset could be an interesting release. VR has an important role in determining how the iPhone 7 will use its cameras, as the market has been growing fast and more and more companies are getting on board the hype train. Dual cameras on the iPhone 7 could point towards an orientation towards VR content creation or at least 360-video recording, although the setup couldn’t possibly live up to VR standards as an Oculus Rift user would perceive them. Nonetheless, it’s been widely discussed and it could be a setup to impress once the iPhone 7 becomes official.

With that in mind, the most prevalent rumor of them all is that the iPhone 7 Plus will boast a dual-lens camera, the second lens being there to facilitate optical zoom. It’s a troublesome rumor because it doesn’t fit in with the reports about Apple designing yet another thinner smartphone focused on bringing light to a new design language. Optical zoom, as seen in the Lumia 1020 for example, would take up a lot of space and would significantly impact the appearance of the phone. Previous iPhones have been criticized for the camera hump on the back, and I fear the same would happen if Apple included optical zoom in the iPhone 7 without solving the hurdles its design would bring. Alas, MacWorld and MacRumors consider the rumor to be plausible, so we might be met with innovation in design when the handset finally sees the light of day. However, I think this dual-lens setup is reserved for a later model of the iPhone, not the iPhone 7.

I see it more likely for Apple to continue down on the same road, adding maybe optical image stabilization and laser autofocus to the mix. I’ve heard insiders speaking of a front-facing flash as well, for all those Instagram models that would get quite a lot of good use out of such a thing. Sensor-wise, I think expecting a 16 MP on the rear and 8 MP on the front would be sensible, even though it would be a significant bump up from last year’s 12 MP and 5 MP sensors on the iPhone 6S. Adding optical image stabilization and leaving the same sensors would also make sense to me, but that’s just my two cents. For all we know, the dual-lens setup could be happening this year, and if it does, I bet the smartphone industry and news industry will go crazy. I would also expect some faults to surface and another “gate” scandal to take over social media, but hey.

TL;DR

In essence, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus should feature a redesigned chassis, new build materials, thinner bodies, Apple A10 chipsets, between 2 and 3 GB RAM, the usual storage options, water resistant displays with up to 1080p resolution, 3D Touch, TouchID, new speaker, no headphone jack, wireless charging, possibly a bigger battery in each, and dual-lens cameras or standard cameras with optical image stabilization. The iPhone 7 will feature a 4.7-inch display, while the iPhone 7 Plus will most likely stay with the 5.5-inch measurement categorizing it a phablet. The release date for the phones should fall sometime in September, with the handsets believed to be on shelves by mid-October. When it comes to pricing, we expect to see a maximum of $50 increase in pricing, depending on what rumored features actually make it into the handset. We might be greeted with the first waterproof smartphone from Apple, or at least the first to support wet fingers. At the same time, we could see an Apple Pencil and new slot replacing the headphone jack’s usual place in the iPhone 7 Plus. So far so good, but we’ll have to wait until September to make sure these assumptions are right. Until then, take them with a grain of salt and make sure to share your thoughts about how the iPhone of the future should look like. Surveys say people are more than pumped for the iPhone 7, are you?

Viv

I believe tech and its place in our society is a process that will forever be in development, as long as we look to science. It's important that we keep track of what's going on and what we can access. There are new technologies being implemented everyday, and the more we know, the better.

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