iPhone 7 :Rumor roundup

iPhone 7 :Rumor roundup

Martin Hajek iPhone 7 render early 2015

If there was one thing that didn’t feel very ‘Apple’ about the iPhone 6 and subsequent models, it was the protruding camera bump on the rear. Due to the thinness of the phone and the existing camera technology, the iSight camera had to protrude a little, even if it slightly spoiled the flat design of the phone. If sources prove to be right, then the iPhone 7 might rectify this with a smooth finish to back and the camera sitting flush.

According to these sources, Apple is said to be keen to use a slimmer camera module, which would make the flush design possible, even with the super-slim iPhone 7.

On top of that Apple is said to be looking at the design of the phone to remove the plastic bands integrated into the rear. These are currently in place for the phones’ antennas, but some people think that they’re a little ugly. A redesign of the phone would let Apple have a complete metal back.

In addition, Apple is also investigating wireless charging that would operate over greater distances. The technology, which could be made available as soon as next year, would mean that you’d only need to put your phone in proximity of the wireless charger, rather than directly on a connector or charging mat. There are several hurdles to overcome, including reducing the power wastage at distance.

As such, I have to point out that it seems unlikely that this technology will be ready in time for the iPhone 7, so regular wireless charging seems like the only option now.

What you need to know, quickly

Need the information fast – here’s everything you need in a quick, bite-sized digest. Obviously, everything here is based on unconfirmed rumours, so things can change quickly, but the below is at least a quick view of how things stand at this point in time.

What is it?

Apple’s brand new smartphone, complete with a new design and the successor to 2015’s iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus

When is it out?

If Apple sticks to its normal release schedule, and it tends to, then we should see it late September 2016

What’s new?

It will have a completely new design and look different to all iPhones before it. That opens up huge potential, but we’re expecting a better screen, faster processor and an much batter camera

In Detail

Li-Fi NOT coming

A recent rumour has surfaced suggesting that the iPhone 7 may have built-in Li-Wi, a super-fast light-based wireless system that’s similar in operation to Wi-Fi, only capable of transmission speeds of up to 224Gbit/s. However, it’s very clear to point out that this almost certainly will not be the case, although Li-Fi remains an interesting technology. So, why won’t the iPhone have this, you may ask?

Well, the fact is that the information we have is a little tenuous at best, with coder Chase Fromm spotting ‘LiFiCapability’ in the iOS 9.1 library cache, tweeting a screen grab as proof. All this means is that Apple is, potentially, interested in Li-Fi and may have been running some tests. That makes a lot of sense: Apple has to stay at the top of its game and try out all of the new tech if it wants to maintain its market dominance. However, having a bit of code is a long way from having a finished product that will appear in the iPhone 7.

Besides, there are some limitations to Li-Fi that need to overcome. The technology currently works by using an LED to rapidly blink faster than the human eye can detect in order to transmit data. However, you need line of sight to get the best transmission rates (light that bounces of walls can deliver up to 70Mbit/s) and the signal can’t penetrate walls, bags, etc. Solving the issue of having Li-Fi everywhere would involve having receivers in every room and then using location tracking to work out which room your phone’s in, so it can talk to the right receiver. In other words, we’re simply not there yet. That’s not to say that Li-Fi doesn’t have its benefits. As well as being extremely quick, light doesn’t cause electromagnetic interference and there’s much more visible light spectrum available than there is radio spectrum (10,000 times more!).

iPhone 7 release date

If there’s been one reliable thing about Apple’s iPhone launches, it’s that they happen just once a year. Given that the iPhone 6S was launched in September 2016, a year after the iPhone 6, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the iPhone 7 will come in September 2016.

No headphone dock?

As reported before , iPhone 7 was said to be ditching the 3.5mm headphone jack, with Apple instead using the Lightning port for headphones instead. According to leaked information , the change was because Apple wants to make the new phone as thin as possible and the headphone jack is slightly too big. Now, more information has come out to say that Apple is definitely doing this. According to a source the rumours are indeed true and the headphone socket will be no more.

Rather than make a simple replacement, Apple is working on new technology for the Lightning port, according to the same sources. Apparently, Wolfson Microelectronics will provide noise-cancellation technolgy that’s baked directly into the iPhone. This will let any set of compatible headphones be noise-cancelling versions, removing background noise. However, noise cancellation technology has to be licensed, so the headphones that support the new tech will cost more. There are some advantages to moving the noise cancellation onto the iPhone: it removes the need for headphones to have their own battery and noise-cancellation circuitry. However, the phone will still need to use its microphone to pick up background noise to eliminate it and it remains to be seen how effective this could be if the iPhone were, say, in a pocket.

Using Lightning can be an advantage, with existing pairs of headphones, such as the Philips Fidelio M2L, having their own Digital to Audio Convertor (DAC) for high-resolution audio; using the 3.5mm output, you rely on the iPhone’s DAC. For people that don’t want to buy new headphones and think that the quality is already good enough it seems likely that Apple will either supply (or sell) a Lightning to 3.5mm adaptor: the Lightning port already supports analogue audio outputs, so the adaptor needs no electronics in it.

The big downside is that you wouldn’t be able to listen to music and charge your phone at the same time, unless you buy a charging dock. For that reason, the same Apple source has said that the company is planning to introduce wireless charging, which the Apple Watch already supports. Finally, the source reiterated a rumour that the iPhone 7 will be waterproof, by virtue of a special coating applied to the internal components.

Improved 3D Touch

One of the best features of the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus was 3D Touch. This added pressure sensitivity to the iPhone’s multi-touch screen, so pressing down hard brings up additional options, such as a shortcut to dial your favourite contacts when you hard press on the Phone icon. I thought that it was a huge improvement and radically changed how touchscreens could be used to interact with a phone. Apple looks set to improve on the technology and is said to be looking at introducing multi-touch 3D Touch.

At the moment, 3D Touch can only detect additional pressure when you use one finger, but the improvement would allow the system to detect pressure and the number of fingers that you’re using. For example, if you used 3D Touch with two fingers, the iPhone could show different context-sensitive information or it could perform a completely different operation, such as deleting an email or marking it as unread. This kind of technology could well make the iPhone even easier and quicker to use, but it’ll be interesting to see if Apple will go that far that quickly, or if it will wait until people are used to its existing 3D Touch.

AMOLED not coming for a while

Apple has used LCD technology for its phone screens since the beginning and, if a leaked report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo can be believed, it looks set to continue that trend with the iPhone 7, rather than moving to AMOLED technology. In fact, Kuo believes that it will be 2018 before we see an iPhone model that uses AMOLED.

Intel inside?

Intel largely missed out on the mobile boom, failing to capitalise on its desktop dominance and leaving it playing catch-up with the likes of Qualcomm. According to recent rumours,Intel may have won its first big break and could be supplying the iPhone 7 with modems.

Intel has recently completed work on its 7360 LTE chip, which has piqued Apple’s interest to the point where the company is seriously considering using Intel as a supplier. This would be a big shift for Apple, which has previously been reliant on Qualcomm, which produces all of the modems for its iPhone range. If Apple chooses to include Intel it will be as a second supplier, similar to the way that Samsung and TSMC already manufacture the A9 chip for the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus.

Intel is seeing this as a ‘must win’, both due to the size of the order and, more importantly, because it could lead to greater things: more specifically, Intel could end up fabricating a future SoC that includes both the processor and the LTE modem integrated into the same silicon. Intel’s manufacturing prowess and Apple’s design could make for a powerful combination and would boost Intel’s mobile credentials, letting it learn from the process, which would surely help it develop its own mobile chips.

It’s hard to know which chip, if any, Intel will manufacture, as work is undoubtedly already underway for the iPhone 7’s SoC, the A10. The most intriguing bit of information is that the chip may move from being dual-core to hexa-core (six cores), according to a report . This would improve the company’s multi-threaded performance and allow for better multi-tasking. I’m excited to see what Apple could do with this many cores, as the combination of its dual-core processors and efficient OS means that Apple’s dual-core chips already beat the quad-core competition in benchmarks.

It might be waterproof

Next, there are the rumours that the next iPhone will be waterproof. This rumour started back in 2014 with an Apple Patent application, which has since been granted, for a technique known as Plasma-Assisted Chemical Vapour Deposition (PACVD) to coat the internal components and make them water resistant. The benefit of this method is that the case doesn’t have to be made completely waterproof, which adds weight and bulk into a design, not to mention design issues. While there are third-party companies that will waterproof your phone’s components internally, doing so can invalidate your warranty, so a manufacturer-installed option is considerably better.

While I don’t often have a lot of time for patent-based rumours (Apple files a ton of patents every year, with many never being used commercially), this one seems to have legs, particularly with the latest information that shows that the iPhone 6S is partially waterproof. When iFixit performed a teardown of the latest model, it found that there was a gasket around the edge sealing the phone, while the logic board connectors had silicone waterproof seals. These connectors are the ones most likely to corrode or short out due to water. The result, tested by people braver than me, is that the iPhone 6S has been demonstrated to survive a dunking. Now, the phone is not waterproof, nor should it be dropped in water on purpose, but the handset is less likely to be damaged than before. It also shows that Apple is seriously thinking about how to protect its phones and has taken the first steps to full-on waterproofing.

It will be thin

From the latest information, the next-generation iPhone looks to be a real stunner and the most recent rumour suggests that the phone is going to be exceptionally thin.

According to a report ,the new iPhone 7 is going to be between 6.0 and 6.5mm thick. That would make it around the same size as the iPod Touch and the incredibly slim iPad Air 2. This will also be a slimming down of the iPhone 6S, which is expected to come it at a shade over 7mm (up from the 6.9mm of the iPhone 6) when it launches later on today. One reason why the iPhone 6S is slightly thicker than its predecessor is because of the Force Touch technology that will be integrated inside it.

One question that a thinner iPhone 7 doesn’t answer is, what happens to the battery? My concern with a thinner phone is that the battery will get smaller. It’s possible that in a year’s time, smaller components may leave more room inside the case for battery, while a more efficient SoC could mean that same battery life from a smaller battery. It’s way too early to tell at the moment, so we’re going to have to wait a bit longer to find out the details. If you’re wondering what a slimmer iPhone 7 may look like, check out the image below

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