iPhone 7 release date rumours, new features and images | No upgrade from 16GB storage | Case maker drawings indicate iPhone 7’s external design.
When will the new iPhone 7 launch, and what new features can we expect in the next iPhone? We round up all the iPhone 7 release date rumours, clues to design changes, and images of what the iPhone 7 will look like when it comes out. Here’s everything we know (or can guess) about Apple’s iPhone 7, including sad confirmation that the next iPhone won’t get a storage boost, and the happier news that iOS 9’s clever new features mean it won’t need it.
iPhone 7 is an astonishingly hot topic, 10 months on from the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and two months before we’re likely to hear any official news from Apple about its new iPhone launches for 2015. The web is full of speculation about the new iPhone(s) that will launch in 2015: rumours about the iPhone 7’s release date, its design, specs and features, and even its name.
In 2015 we’re sure to see a next-generation iPhone – although not at June’s WWDC 2015, where some extreme optimists had hoped for some clues. What will the new iPhone 7 (or perhaps iPhone 6s, iPhone 6c, iPhone 6s Plus or simply ‘New iPhone’) look like? What new features can we expect in the iPhone 7? And when will the iPhone 7 come out? We round up the evidence to bring you everything there is to know about the iPhone 7 so far.
Bookmark this page for a regularly updated summary of all the information currently available – and all the rumours doing the rounds – related to the iPhone 7: details, clues, hints and rumours, as well as any leaked photos of the iPhone 7 that emerge. We’ll update the article whenever we hear worthwhile new information (or scurrilous but interesting gossip) on the subject of the next iPhone.
Main sections in this article:
Macworld’s verdict on the iPhone 7
Introduction: What is the iPhone 7?
iPhone 7 launch date rumours
iPhone 7 specification rumours (updated, 6 July, with confirmation that the new iPhone won’t get a storage boost)
iPhone 7 new features rumours
iPhone 7 design rumours
iPhone 7 images and videos: leaked images, concept illustrations etc (updated, 6 July, with drawings from a case maker that reveal the iPhone 7’s external design)
If you’re looking for information about the current iPhone range, by the way, read our iPhone 6 review, iPhone 6 Plus review, iPhone 5s review and iPhone 5c review; and our iPhone buyers’ guide.
And for more future-gazing, you can read our iPhone 6s and iPhone 6c release date and rumours. (We explain the differences between the iPhone 6c, iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 in the Introduction section of this article.)
Plus, find out what’s in store for Apple fans throughout the rest of the year: Apple predictions for 2015
In a nutshell: Macworld’s verdict on the iPhone 7
In our iPhone 7 rumour roundup we cover a lot of ground: you’d be amazed by the clues, hints and general speculation about the iPhone 7 that people have managed to dig up. But for those who don’t want all the detail, the following section sums up our verdict on the whole thing. Consider it a sort of TL;DR for the article as a whole.
In a nutshell, then, we reckon:
1) Apple will launch a couple of iPhones – probably two, maybe three – in mid-September 2015, much as it does every year. Rumours have floated August for a possible early launch, but we’re not convinced by that.
2) We think this will be a 4.7-inch phone called the iPhone 7, and a 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus. If Apple does make another 4-inch iPhone (which, thanks to the success of the larger iPhones, is by no means a certainty) then we think it’ll be called something like the iPhone 7 Mini.
3) But this is Apple we’re talking about, and consistent naming conventions aren’t its strong suit. It could be called the New iPhone Max for all I know.
4) The iPhone 7 won’t be a fat phone, but we can’t see that the iPhone 6 series phones need to be significantly thinner. At all. We expect roughly the same dimensions as the current generation. Tim Cook will probably be able to boast that it’s “the slimmest iPhone ever”, but the minor reduction in thickness will be exaggerated by favourable lighting. On the other hand, the rumour that the next iPhone will actually be fatter is, in our opinion, just that – a rumour.
5) It’s starting to look, indeed, as though this will be a minor update on the physical front – a classic ‘S’ update. Leaked drawings from a case maker suggest that the new iPhone’s design will be externally the same as the current models. This also makes sense given that in 2014 Apple made its most radical design changes for years.
6) Battery life may be a little better (perhaps thanks to the use of contoured battery stacks to make better use of the internal space), but it won’t be a lot better. Jony Ive’s comments have made it plain that Apple doesn’t consider a higher battery life to be worth significant sacrifices in other areas. (And we suspect that, if they’re honest, most smartphone buyers would agree.) iOS 9 will improve battery life of all the iPhones, in any case, so there’s less need than ever for Apple to make sacrifices in order to squeeze in a bigger battery.
7) Higher screen resolution is a possibility – Apple exploded the ‘Retina is as sharp as your eyes can see’ myth with the iPhone 6 Plus, and the company is playing catchup against many of its rivals in this department. Apple may well apply the pixel density of the iPhone 6 Plus to all the models in the next generation; it could go even higher. And a harder screen material would play well, whether Apple manages to resurrect the sapphire situation or goes with Corning’s new Project Phire.
8) It looks like 16GB will be the lowest storage offering once again; clever space-saving features in iOS 9 mean this will be less of a concern than in the past (until app developers start pushing their luck with even bigger install files). Expect 64GB and 128GB models, too.
9) We find the rumours of a dual-lens camera offering ‘DSLR-like’ picture quality highly convincing. The camera is a key area for every new iPhone and this new camera tech would be something Tim Cook could build a launch presentation around. The effects of the LinX acquisition probably won’t be felt for another generation of iPhone, but the company’s 3D camera sensors should make an appearance in future iPhones.
10) A higher megapixel rating (maybe as high as 12Mp for the rear-facing camera) is also possible – Apple hasn’t increased the megapixel rating of its iPhone cameras since the iPhone 4s – but the company is known for worrying less about specs and more about qualititative differences in the user experience. Clues in the iOS 9 beta code suggest that the front-facing camera might get a bump to 1080p resolution, though.
11) The iPhone 7 could get a USB-C port, like the new 12-inch MacBook, but we think this is unlikely. The change from 30-pin to Lightning is recent enough (and was painful enough for many users) that to switch again now would be highly controversial.
12) And as for the other out-there rumours? 3D screen: no. Curved display: almost certainly not. Curved or flexible iPhone: nope. Edge-to-edge screen: yes, quite possibly. Spring-out gaming joystick in the Home button: definitely not. Wireless charging: maybe, but probably not yet.
Macworld poll: Which size of iPhone would you prefer?
What do you want from your next iPhone: a 4-inch screen, like on the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s; a 4.7-inch phone, like the iPhone 6; or a 5.5-inch smartphone, like the iPhone 6 Plus? Or something else entirely?
iPhone 7 rumours: What is the iPhone 7?
Sorry if that sounds obvious, but it’s not as simple a question as it sounds. The iPhone 7 isn’t the seventh iPhone (the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were the ninth and tenth iPhones respectively, so that ship sailed a long time ago) but it’s what we are for convenience calling Apple’s next large-screen (phablet-form) iPhone launch.
At the moment Apple sells iPhones in three sizes: with 4-inch screens (the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s); with a 4.7-inch screen (the iPhone 6) and with a 5.5-inch screen (the iPhone 6 Plus). We’re currently working on the basis that Apple will make at least one new model in all three sizes, and for now we’re choosing to call those theoretical devices iPhone 6c, iPhone 6s and iPhone 7.
(However, an anonymous source in Apple’s supply chain recently claimed that the company isn’t currently planning to make another 4-inch iPhone. We’re not sure about that – and think it would be a mistake for Apple – but you can read more about the rumour in our iPhone 6c round-up.) [Find out about the Apple Watch: Complete Guide to Apple Watch: release date, UK price, specs, size & weight]
iPhone 7 rumours: What will the next iPhone be called? Will it be iPhone 6s or iPhone 6c instead?
Before we get on to specs and other technical details, one of the first things we want to address is the name of the next iPhone. If Apple sticks to its traditional naming conventions, then it’s more likely that the 2015 iPhone will be called the iPhone 6s instead of the iPhone 7. (This could be accompanied by a cheaper iPhone 6c.)
However, it’s been rumoured for a few years that Apple is considering dropping the ‘S’ naming convention (and the more recent ‘C’ convention, seen on the iPhone 5c), as it’s beginning to be perceived negatively. After all, it does make it seem like it’s not a completely new device, but rather a stepping stone to the next iPhone.
Well-known (and usually reliable) Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who works for KGI Securities, has issued a prediction note to investors in which he forecasts that Apple will indeed launch an iPhone 7 in autumn 2015, skipping the 6s generation entirely. Part of his reasoning for this is the contention that Apple will add a significant upgrade feature to the next iPhone: Force Touch. And the in-betweener ‘S’ generations of iPhone are traditionally more conservative updates that don’t offer any terribly exciting new features.
(Against this, Expert Reviews points out that “with the iPhone 5S Apple introduced Touch ID and went 64-bit: these huge changes weren’t enough for the company to jump straight to iPhone 6, and Force Touch isn’t even in that league” – although the site does suggest that Apple may skip the ‘S’ generation simply to reduce confusion.)
We won’t know what the next iPhone is called until Apple confirms it, of course.
Another option that’s been proposed by keen Apple followers is that the iPhone 7 will be called the iPhone Air, following the example of the MacBook Air and iPad Air lines. But that’s a bit wacky for our tastes.
iPhone 7 release date rumours: When is the iPhone 7 coming out?
If Apple sticks to its traditions, we can expect the iPhone 7 to arrive in mid-September 2015 – we think 8 September is a fair bet. The next big Apple press event is WWDC 2015, which started tonight (8 June), but this is traditionally software-focused; we expect updates to iOS and Mac OS X, not a new iPhone. (Update – indeed, there was no news about a new iPhone at the WWDC opening keynote. Although we did hear lots of interesting stuff about iOS 9, which will ship with the iPhone 7 and has some great new features. Read about iOS 9 here.)
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were unveiled on 9 September 2014 (and released to the public on 19 September); the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s were unveiled on 10 September 2013; the iPhone 5 was unveiled on 12 September. There’s a pattern there that the eagle-eyed reader may be able to spot.
However, a new rumour holds that Apple will actually launch the new iPhones in August. Economic Daily News (a Chinese-language site) cites supply-chain sources to support its claim that the new iPhone 6s is already in production, and that the devices will launch in August, a month earlier than expected.
We’re not wholly convinced by this: let us just say that we’ll need to hear this corroborated by other sources before we start updating our diaries. Apple’s supply chains, in contrast with its in-house design and engineering teams, are notoriously leaky, and if something as big as that is going on we can expect to hear more about it. So until we hear more, we’ll continue to predict a September launch for the iPhone 7.
So much for the likely launch date. But it’s possible – and has been widely speculated – that Apple will begin releasing new iPhones twice a year, to help it keep up with the ever growing and ever improving competition. This would mean an iPhone launch event in the spring of 2015 followed by another in the autumn.
In this case we would expect less dramatic enhancements in each update: perhaps an ‘S’-class update in the spring followed by the full iPhone 7 in autumn. Or Apple might choose to update its 4-inch smartphones in one set of announcements and its larger phones in the other.
Indeed, another tech site says it has a source in the supply chain that backs all this up – claiming that, while the iPhone 7 will have to wait until September, the iPhone 6s will be launched in spring alongside the Apple Watch.
It’s an interesting theory, but if we were betting men and women Macworld would put its money on a September launch for the next range of iPhones.
You can also read our full first look review of the Apple Watch, and our Apple Watch Release Date story, including UK pricing for the Apple Watch.
iPhone 7 rumours: Specifications
It’s time to get a bit more technical. Let’s talk iPhone 7 specs.
iPhone 7 specs rumours: Storage capacity – No increase from 16GB minimum
First up: the iPhone 7’s storage capacity.
Each time the iPhones get updated we speculate about the possibility that Apple will boost storage: removing the 16GB baseline option and starting at 32GB. (At the moment, for last year’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus at any rate, there is a curiously isolated 16GB model, a gap, and then the 64GB and 128GB models above. You can buy a 32GB iPhone 5s, while the iPhone 5c comes in an 8GB storage flavour only.)
This may yet happen with the iPhone 7 – and we’d be glad to see the back of the 16GB storage tier, which we increasingly find unrealistically restrictive for the average user – but a leaked photo apparently shows a prototype logic board for one of this year’s new iPhones, and one of the details that 9to5Mac and their analysts friends at Chipworks have been able to detect is that, unfortunately for those hoping for a specs boost this time around, the new iPhones will continue to offer a minimum storage offering of 16GB.
The site shows images of a Toshiba flash memory chip on the new iPhone’s logic board, and claims that this specific component is a 16GB chip. This would appear to confirm that at least one new 16GB iPhone will come out in autumn – although, as 9to5Mac points out, it is possible that this unit is for testing purposes only.
As the site says, “Apple has previously tested future iPhone hardware using smaller storage capacities prior to finalizing its production, so a last-minute upgrade to a higher capacity would not be unprecedented.”
Do the improvements in iOS 9 make Apple less likely to increase the iPhone’s storage?
It looks, then, like we’re stuck with 16GB iPhones for another year – although some neat new features of iOS 9 make this a little less of a problem. They could also help explain Apple’s thinking in this area, and add another reason to expect the company to stick with its current storage option line-up.
You see, the biggest problem with the 16GB iPhone – and an almost cripplingly bad problem for the 8GB iPhone 5c – is the size of the install file when downloading a new version of iOS. For iOS 8 it was something like 5GB, which was big enough that virtually all owners of 8GB or 16GB iPhones would have to prune the media and apps on their device before updating. (There were alternatives, such an updating via iTunes on a Mac, and you could reload the apps afterwards since iOS 8 only took up this vast space during the update process, but it was still annoying.)
But Apple has said that iOS 9 will be significantly smaller and less cumbersome to download than previous versions of the mobile operating system: it could be something like a gig, a far more convenient file size to squeeze on to a fully laden iPhone. And beyond that, it’s been discovered that, when there isn’t enough space for an update (such as iOS 9.1, say), iOS will be able to temporarily delete apps for you, and then download them again afterwards. It’s the same concept as before, but without you having the hassle of working out which apps are taking up the most space and then remembering which ones you deleted after.
BusinessInsider says iOS 9 will pop up this message when it believes the measures are necessary:
Insufficient Space For Download. In order to make room for the software update, some apps will need to be temporarily deleted. All deleted apps will automatically be replaced after the update is complete. Would you like to continue?
You should just have to tap Yes in order to proceed.
Thanks to this, and other space-saving innovations in iOS 9 such as App Thinning, whereby only the bits of apps that you need for your device will be downloaded, instead of absolutely everything, storage space will be less of an issue with iOS 9 than ever before. Who needs 32GB?
iPhone 7 specs rumours: Battery life
Let’s talk battery life. One current rumour holds that Apple will take the battery developments it deployed in the 12-inch MacBook – whereby contoured, layered battery units are stacked inside the chassis in order to take up every possible inch of space – and use these to squeeze more battery volume inside the iPhone 7.
(According to Wired’s write-up, Apple actually claims to adjust its battery contours on a machine-by-machine basis, by photographing the inside of the chassis and modifying the battery stack to fit all the tiny imperfections – which, if it’s true, is amazing.)
Apple could even, thanks to the new battery technology, make more radical changes to the overall design of the iPhone, because its engineers no longer to base their work on a fixed battery shape; although the idea of Jony Ive coming up with a BlackBerry Passport-esque square design at this point in the iPhone’s history is a little off-putting.
One site that’s discussing this rumour, igyaan and webcrictv.com Mobile prices in pakistan, mobile prices in indiam mobiles prices in UK, Mobiles prices in USA, argues that it will enable Apple to make the next iPhone slimmer. Which contradicts the latest entry in our design section: the rumour that the iPhone 7 will be very slightly fatter than the iPhone 6 Plus, in order to squeeze in the components to power Force Touch. I guess we’re back to square one in that department.
Smartphone battery life is one of those things that everyone says is important, and once again Apple will hear many requests for improved battery life in the iPhone 7 – but you do wonder how much of a compromise the average Apple fan would be willing to make in return. What if, in order to achieve a superb battery life, the iPhone 7 was twice the weight, or cost significantly more? What if the screen was less powerful or the processor scaled back?
Mirroring these thoughts somewhat, Jony Ive discussed battery life briefly in an interview with the Financial Times’ ‘How to spend it’ supplement recently. And he gave fairly heavy hints that Apple doesn’t think battery life is a high enough priority to make compromises in other areas worth it.
“Talking of performance, when the issue of the frequent need to recharge the iPhone is raised, [Ive] answers that it’s because it’s so light and thin that we use it so much and therefore deplete the battery. With a bigger battery it would be heavier, more cumbersome, less ‘compelling’.”
It’s possible that will see conservative increases in battery life, as we did with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. But those advances were feasible because the bodies of those devices were larger, and they could therefore accommodate larger batteries. And it sounds like Apple won’t be sacrificing portability to make the iPhone 7 have a significantly better battery life.
iPhone 7 specs: Screen size
Most importantly, what screen size will the iPhone 7 have? There are a number of competing theories.
Of the three smartphone screen sizes Apple currently sells, the 4.7 inches of the iPhone 6 appears to be the favourite among customers. The iPhone 6 Plus and its 5.5-inch screen strikes many people as too big; the 4-inch iPhone 5s seems too old-fashioned and titchy to many more. 4.7 inches may be the sweet spot for the average Apple fan.
But it seems unlikely that Apple will give up on its other screen sizes as easily as that. For one thing, there are definitely smartphone users out there who still value smaller devices: those with smaller hands, those who prefer to use their smartphone one-handed, people who just don’t like change. (That last category includes the author of this article, to be quite candid. I wrote a little about the significance of very small alterations in the size and shape of smartphones in an article that I called The handbag theory.)
Apple may seek to placate this market by updating its 4-inch line-up. And while it’s been consistently outsold by the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus hasn’t been a sales disaster either – and it’s an important product for Apple in terms of prestige and acquiring a foothold in new markets.
For simplicity, therefore, we’re predicting three new iPhones from Apple over the next year or so. An update of the iPhone 5s with a 4-inch screen, which we’re calling the iPhone 6c; a 4.7-inch update of the iPhone 6, which we’re calling the iPhone 6s; and a new phablet, based on the iPhone 6 Plus, with a 5.5-inch screen. This last update is the one we’re calling the iPhone 7, and will be the focus of this article.[We have the latest rumours about the Apple iCar here, plus read why we don’t think Apple will make an iCar]
iPhone 7 specs rumours: 3D display
The iPhone 7 could feature a 3D display, according to Economic Daily News, which claims that Apple supply chain partner TPK is working on a project that relates to “naked eye 3D screen” – in other words, a 3D screen that doesn’t require glasses to see.
iPhone 7 specs rumours: Camera
When it comes to the iPhone 7’s camera, the latest reports suggest that it could offer a significant improvement over the camera found in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. In fact, it could be the biggest camera jump in the history of the iPhone.
Let’s talk about the front-facing camera first. Hamza Sood, a canny iOS developer who’s spotted clues in iOS code before, has noticed what could be a big hint about camera specs and features in the iOS 9 beta.
Let’s return to the higher-spec rear-facing camera; and one theory is that the iPhone 7’s camera wil simply get a big bump in megapixel rating.
IHS China analyst Kevin Wong thinks the new iPhone will offer a 12-megapixel camera (compared with 8-megapixel cameras on all four of the current iPhone models, and on all models going back to the iPhone 4s), and shared this view on the Chinese social network Weibo.
But we tend to think that Apple prefers to change the way its iPhone cameras work rather than focusing on their specs. And if a patent published in March (but applied for back in 2011) is any indicator, Apple is pondering a bold new camera miniaturisation technology based on what it calls “a light splitter cube”.
“The cube splits the incident light into first, second, and third color components that emerge from the cube through a first face, a second face, and a third face of the cube, respectively,” the patent explains. “First, second, and third image sensors are provided, each being positioned to receive a respective one of the color components that emerge from the first, second, and third faces of the cube.”