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10 iPhone 7 Rumors Reveal Stunning Design Changes

Forbes logo Forbes 23-03-2016 Amit Chowdhry, Contributor

Based on previous release schedules and product name patterns, Apple should be releasing its newest flagship smartphones in September or October 2016 — which is most likely going to be called the iPhone 7. Despite the expected release being months from now, many leaks have been spreading over the last several months. This article highlights ten of those leaks. 

1.) Three iPhone Types, One With A Dual-Lens Camera

Image Credit: MacRumors / Feld & Volk: iPhone 7 Pro / Image Credit: MacRumors / Feld & Volk© Provided by Forbes iPhone 7 Pro / Image Credit: MacRumors / Feld & Volk

In September 2014, Apple released the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus followed by the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus about a year later. Apple is expected to consistently follow its naming conventions by calling  its future flagship smartphones the iPhones the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. But rumor has it that Apple will be providing another option called the iPhone 7 Pro.

The iPhone 7 Pro is expected to have a dual-lens system (pictured below), meaning it is like having two cameras on the rear — each with different focal lengths. And the camera will support sharper images in lower light environments. The dual-lens camera system will also have a 2-3x optical zoom. This means the camera should be comparable to high quality DSLR cameras. The technology that will power the camera in the iPhone 7 Pro was obtained by Apple’s acquisition of LinX Imaging last year.

Another useful feature LinX Imaging created was its depth mapping technology, which supports the ability to take 3D scans. By implementing LinX’s camera technology into the iPhone 7, Apple could potentially prevent the camera lens from protruding on future iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus devices.

Above is a render of the iPhone 7 Pro put together by Feld & Volk, which also successfully rendered all the iPhone 6 details in 2014. It appears that the iPhone 7 Pro will have a protruding enclosure rather than two circular protrusions. And the antenna bands will be placed along the top and bottom edges of the iPhone 7 Pro.

Photo Credit: Chuansong: Dual-Lens expected to be used in iPhone 7 Pro Photo Credit: Chuansong via Apple Club Taiwan© Provided by Forbes Dual-Lens expected to be used in iPhone 7 Pro Photo Credit: Chuansong via Apple Club Taiwan

2.) Removal Of 3.5mm Headphone Jack

Drawing from Apple's Detachable Headphones Patent / Photo Credit: Apple via USPTO: Drawing from Apple’s Detachable Headphones Patent / Photo Credit: Apple via USPTO© Provided by Forbes Drawing from Apple’s Detachable Headphones Patent / Photo Credit: Apple via USPTO

Back in June 2014, Forbes contributor Gordon Kelly theorized that Apple would be getting rid of the 3.5mm headphone jack (TRS connector) on the iPhone following the acquisition of Beats for $3.2 billion. Several iPhone 7 leaks have proven Kelly’s theory to be true since then. 

How would you be able to listen to music using headphones without the 3.5mm jack? There will be two ways: the Lightning port and Bluetooth. Wired headphones can be connected through the Lightning port and wireless headphones can be connected through Bluetooth. Most likely, the iPhone 7 should be shipping with Lightning-powered EarPods. And Apple is reportedly working on wireless earbuds to sell separately when the iPhone 7 is released.

Apple also recently received a patent for a “Detachable wireless listening device.” This patent highlights headphones that can accept audio signals through a cord in one mode and Bluetooth in another mode.

3.) Addition Of A Second Speaker

Image Credit: Behance: Image Credit: Arthur Reis via Behance© Provided by Forbes Image Credit: Arthur Reis via Behance

Apple is expected to be making the iPhone 7 about as thin as the iPod Touch — which is about 0.24 inch (6.1mm). This means the iPhone 7 could be potentially one millimeter thinner than the iPhone 6S — which is 0.28 inches thick (7.1mm).  Apple will likely only be able to pull this off if the 3.5mm headphone jack is removed. And a thinner Lightning port on the iPhone may be made implemented. 

So what will Apple do with the extra space? It is believed that Apple will be replacing the 3.5mm headphone jack with a second speaker. This would give the iPhone 7 stereo audio. And Apple is also expected to be adding a second amp that is built by Cirrus Logic. 

4.) 7.04 Watt-Hours Battery

iPhone 7 battery / Photo Credit: Digi.tech.qq.com© Provided by Forbes iPhone 7 battery / Photo Credit: Digi.tech.qq.com

On the Chinese website Digi.tech.qq.com (via MacRumors), a photo of the battery that will be included in the iPhone 7 has been leaked. In the photo, it has been revealed that the battery has a capacity of 7.04 watt-hours. This capacity is about 6.5% more than the 6.61 watt-hours in the iPhone 6S, but is nearly the same as the 7.01 watt-hours in the iPhone 6. This means that the charge capacity will be similar to the iPhone 6.

5.) A Smart Connector

iPhone 7 render created by Feld & Volk. Notice the Smart Connector at the back? / Photo Credit: Feld & Volk© Provided by Forbes iPhone 7 render created by Feld & Volk. Notice the Smart Connector at the back? / Photo Credit: Feld & Volk

When Apple released the iPad Pro in September 2015, it included a feature called Smart Connector. The Smart Connector is a magnetic port that can connect to the Apple Smart Keyboard and provide it with power without requiring a Bluetooth connection. Smart Connector is definitely one of the most underrated features built into the iPad Pro.

In another image render by Feld & Volk, it was revealed that the iPhone 7 may have a Smart Connector feature on the back of the device. It is unclear what the Smart Connector will be used for. I am speculating that the Smart Connector in the iPhone 7 will be added for charging purposes because the Lightning port may be needed for listening to music. 

Here is what the Smart Connector looks like on the iPad Pro:

Smart Connector on the iPad Pro / Photo Credit: Apple / Screenshot Credit: Amit Chowdhry© Provided by Forbes Smart Connector on the iPad Pro / Photo Credit: Apple / Screenshot Credit: Amit Chowdhry

6.) More RAM In The Larger iPhone

Internals of the iPhone / Photo Credit: Apple / Screenshot Credit: Amit Chowdhry© Provided by Forbes Internals of the iPhone / Photo Credit: Apple / Screenshot Credit: Amit Chowdhry

According to a leaked report published in November 2015 by the credible KGI Securities analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus is expected to have 3GB of RAM embedded in an A10 chip. However, the 4.7-inch iPhone 7 will have 2GB of RAM just like its predecessor: the iPhone 6S. The 4.7-inch iPhone 7 will also have an A10 chip.

7.) Storage Space

The iPad Pros now offer 256GB of storage, which is an indication of what is to come on future iPhones / Photo Credit: Apple / Screenshot Credit: Amit Chowdhry© Provided by Forbes The iPad Pros now offer 256GB of storage, which is an indication of what is to come on future iPhones / Photo Credit: Apple / Screenshot Credit: Amit Chowdhry

Rumor has it that the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus will have larger storage options. According to Chinese website MyDrivers (via MacRumors), the iPhone 7 Plus may have up to 256GB in storage capacity. However, it is unclear whether the iPhone 7 Plus will have the 16GB base storage option and what the other storage options will be whether it is: 32GB, 64GB and/or 128GB. The iPhone 6S Plus has 16GB, 64GB and 128GB storage options.

When Apple revealed its 9.7-inch iPad Pro earlier this month, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro received a new maximum storage option of up to 256GB. The 256GB storage option for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is $1,099 and the 256GB 9.7-inch iPad Pro is $899. This is the highest storage option that has been offered on an iPad so far. And this is a very strong indication that the iPhone 7 will receive a similar bump in storage capacity. 

8.) Wireless Charging

According to sources with Fast Company, Apple is planning to integrate wireless charging into the iPhone 7. This feature is especially important because Samsung’s flagship smartphones have been offering wireless charging over the last few generations.  Fast Company’s source said that Apple has been considering wireless charging in the last two previous iPhones. 

Apple Watching Charging Dock / Photo Credit: Apple / Screenshot Credit: Amit Chowdhry© Provided by Forbes Apple Watching Charging Dock / Photo Credit: Apple / Screenshot Credit: Amit Chowdhry

The first Apple product to support wireless inductive charging is the Apple Watch, which uses wireless inductive charging: The Apple Watch Charging Dock costs $79 and it is Qi based, but Apple decided not to submit it for interoperability testing, according to Wireless Power Consortium VP of market development John Perzow via The Register UK. “I think they are using version 1.1.2 of Qi, but the software stack has been altered so that only Apple’s charger works with Watch,” said Perzow. A wireless charging feature would be essential for charging the iPhone if the user has headphones connected to the Lightning port especially if the Smart Connector rumor turns out to be false.

9.) Bump Up In LTE Speed

Intel 7360 / Photo Credit: Intel© Provided by Forbes Intel 7360 / Photo Credit: Intel

There is a rumor that the Apple iPhone 7 will be outfitted with Intel LTE modems, most likely the Intel 7360. This means that the iPhone 7 could have download speeds of up to 450 Mbps, uplink speeds of 100 Mbps and support for the LTE category 10 and 29 bands. There are reportedly more than a thousand employees working on the Intel LTE chip.

If the Intel LTE modem works out, then Apple will likely switch from Qualcomm to Intel for modem chips along with a new Apple system on a chip.  Currently, Qualcomm powers the LTE Advanced feature on the iPhone 6S. The LTE Advanced feature on the iPhone 6S supports 23 LTE bands and a download speed of up to 300 Mbps.

Intel builds its LTE modem chips in Munich, Germany where Infineon Technologies was based before the chip giant acquired the company in 2011. Infineon used to supply Apple with 3G modems, but their partnership fizzled after the Intel acquisition. Now their partnership appears to be reviving. 

“One of our sources said Apple engineers have been making trips to Munich, Germany, to work with Intel engineers to optimize the 7360 chip for Apple’s phone,” said VentureBeat in a blog post. Apple even hired some of the engineers that worked at Infineon and Intel. 

10.) Water-Resistant And Dustproof Feature

Samsung definitely has bragging rights for building smartphones that are water resistant whether it is the Galaxy S5 or the Galaxy S7. The new Galaxy S7 is able to repel spills, splashes and dunks without having to depend on a protective case.  What makes this rumor believable is that the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus are actually waterproof as proven by this water test by Zach Straley even though Apple does not promote it:

By getting rid of the headphone jack, it makes the process of making the Apple iPhone water-resistance even easier. That is because the headphone jack is the deepest port in the iPhone and is the hardest to waterproof, according to Gordon Kelly.

To make the iPhone 7 waterproof and dust-proof, Apple is also going to use new compound materials. The new compound materials would also enable Apple to hide the antenna bands on the iPhone 7. The antenna bands on the iPhone allows Bluetooth, WiFi and carrier signals to be transmitted from the device. The supplier of the waterproof and dust-proof iPhone 7 chassis components is expected to be Catcher Technologies, according to DigiTimes.

Radical Design Changes

Clearly these 10 changes show that the iPhone will see a radical redesign this year. And there will be a wide range of options for customers to choose from whether it is the new iPhone SE, the iPhone 7, the iPhone 7 Plus or the iPhone 7 Pro. Some of the iPhone 7 rumors may be subject to change over the next few months, but I will post updates to this article as it comes in.

What are your thoughts about the iPhone 7 rumors? Do you plan to upgrade to the iPhone 7 when it is released? Please leave a comment with your thoughts!

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