iPhone 7 rumor roundup: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

iPhone 7 almost certainly isn't coming until fall 2016, but it's never too early to round up all the rumors!

iPhone 7 rumor roundup

iPhone 7 is the presumptive name for the next major redesign in Apple's iPhone product line. If Apple holds to pattern, the iPhone 7 would launch in September of 2016 following the introduction of an iPhone 6s in 2015. It will likely feature a new design, more powerful internals, and new features as well.

iPhone 7 name

If Apple sticks to the same pattern the company has been using since 2010, the 2015 iPhone 6s will be followed by the 2016 iPhone 7.
  • iPhone: 2007
  • iPhone 3G: 2008
  • iPhone 3GS: 2009
  • iPhone 4: 2010
  • iPhone 4s: 2011
  • iPhone 5: 2012
  • iPhone 5s: 2013
  • iPhone 6: 2014
  • iPhone 6s: 2015
Any pattern can be broken, of course, and Apple can ultimately call any iPhone anything the company wants iPhone X, iPhone Pro, Apple Phone, etc. iPhone 7 is simply an easy, understandable way to refer to the next generation flagship iPhone for now.

iPhone 7 Plus

There was an iPhone 6 and an iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, so if Apple sticks to that pattern, there'll be an iPhone 7 and an iPhone 7 Plus as well.

iPhone 6 Plus: 2014
iPhone 6s Plus: 2015
That lets Apple serve customers who want a phone with the 4.7-inch (or thereabouts) display size, and customers who want a tiny tablet with the 5.5-inch (or thereabouts) display size.

iPhone 7 release date

September has been the month for Apple iPhone debuts for the last few years. Keeping to that pattern, the iPhone 7 and larger iPhone 7 Plus will be announced the week of September 6 or 13, and ship the week of the 23rd or 30th.

Since the iPhone 5, Apple has announced every new iPhone during a special event held the first or second Tuesday or Wednesday of September:
  • iPhone 5: September 12, 2012
  • iPhone 5s: September 10, 2013
  • iPhone 6: September 9, 2014
  • iPhone 6s: September 9, 2015
Because of how the calendar falls in 2016, Tuesday the 6th is earlier than usual and Tuesday the 13th is slightly later. Which one Apple chooses may depend on how production schedules settle.

Likewise, since the iPhone 5, Apple has shipped every new iPhone the second Friday following the event, with the exception of the iPhone 6s in 2015, which shipped the third Friday following the event:
  • iPhone 5: September 21, 2012
  • iPhone 5S: September 20, 2013
  • iPhone 6: September 19, 2014
  • iPhone 6s: September 25, 2015
If the event is Tuesday the 6th, the iPhone 7 could be released on Friday the 16th or 23rd. If the event is Tuesday the 13th, it could be released on Friday the 23rd or 30th.

Past patterns are the best indicator of future events, but they aren't perfect. Apple can and will throw curveballs whenever the company's logistics or strategy demands. So, be aware of the dates but don't be bound to them.

iPhone 7 design

At any given point in time, Apple is working several years ahead on the iPhone line. Upcoming models may already be in the testing or prototype stages while future models may be little more than components attached to boards. Sometimes multiple versions will also exist, some more conservative, others more audacious. What eventually ships depends on what can reliably be produced given the limits of technology and economics.

Since 2008 Apple has also followed a "tick tock" cycle for iPhones. On the "tick" year the company unveils a new design and on the "tock" year the company takes that same design to its limits.
  • iPhone 3G: 2008 — Plastic shell.
  • iPhone 4: 2010 — Antenna band and glass back.
  • iPhone 5: 2012 — 16:9 aspect ratio, chamfered edges.
  • iPhone 6: 2014 — Bigger screens, rounded edges.
If Apple holds to pattern, 2016 will be a "tick" year and feature a new design. Current rumors suggest that design will be lighter and potentially smaller, with less bezel around the sides and at the top and bottom.

iPhone 7 colors

So far Apple has saved the new iPhone finishes for the S models.
  • iPhone 5s: 2013 — Gold.
  • iPhone 6s: 2015 — Rose gold.

Again, Apple can do anything the company wants, any time the company wants, but if Apple holds to pattern we won't see another new finish until the iPhone 7s in 2017. (Purple, please!)

iPhone 7 spec speculation

Since Apple introduced the company's first branded system-on-a-chip (SoC) in 2010, every new iPhone has come with a new A-series chipset. If Apple sticks to that pattern, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will ship with Apple A10 processors. New SoC typically take advantage of better processes that let them be faster and more powerful but also more energy efficient.

Apple has also been adding coprocessors to handle motion and, now, voice activation, and the A10 could further build on those capabilities as well.

The custom CPUs Apple has been producing have gone from Swift to Cyclone to Typhoon to Twister, so... Tropical Storm next? Hurricane? Rumors also persist that Apple is working on custom GPUs and even modems as well, which would allow the company to take full control of everything from graphics to radios.

While the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus finally made the jump to 2GB of RAM, frame drop on the iPhone Plus line has led to requests for 3GB of RAM in the larger phones. More recent versions of iOS, though, have fixed the frame drops, so it's unclear how necessary additional memory really is at this point.

Current iPhones also top out at 128GB of storage. Those with large media collections have gotten their hopes up for a 256GB model. Given the space constraints inside the iPhone, the costs of higher density memory, and the lengths Apple has gone to improve efficiencies with app thinning and nearline management, it's also unclear how realistic 256GB would be this year.

iPhone 7 headset jack

Apple, like almost every major vendor, has considered life after the 100+ year old headphone jack. It's not much thicker than a Lightning port, but it's an extra hole, it's analog, and it takes up space inside a casing that has precious little of it to spare. This year, though, rumor has it Apple may be serious about finally ditching the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Apple may be serious about finally ditching the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Absent a headset jack, digital audio potentially higher definition would be provided via the Lightning port. A pari of Lightning EarBuds would be included in the box, Lightning and Bluetooth headphones would be available from Apple's Beats brand and other vendors, and an adapter with a digital audio converter (DAC) would enable the use of older 3.5mm headphones.

iPhone 7 waterproofing

The Apple Watch shipped with "splash proofing" that technically protected it from rain, sweat, and other minor exposure to water. Even so, Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, told people he took it in the shower and, since launch, people have even been swimming with it.
Apple could make the iPhone 7 waterproof 
Other vendors have released waterproof phones in the past, but they either used nano coatings that would likely destroy the environmental ratings Apple values, or they used little flaps to protect ports that could break off and ruin the protection.

The iPhone 6s, while officially possessing nothing in the way of water resistance, has held up startlingly well to splashes and even dunks. There are rumors that the iPhone 7 will take that even further, with official "splash proofing" and perhaps even more.

Although swimming with an iPhone may not be on everyone's wish-list, those whose jobs or pastimes expose them to the elements, and even those who want to do underwater photography at shallow depths would be thrilled by the feature.

iPhone 7 cameras

Based on some recent acquisition, including smart camera company PrimeSense, speculation is high that Apple is working on taking even the 12 megapixel, 4K video camera in the iPhone 6s to the next level. What that means for the iPhone 7 is uncertain, though rumor has it Apple is aspiring to make the iPhone camera as good as a DSLR. That includes better low light, dynamic focus and depth of field, and potentially more.
iPhone 7 Plus likely to feature dual-camera system for better photos using LinX tech, 2-3x optical zoom
The potentially more part is currently rumored to include two lenses allowing for even more advanced image signal processing. Whether, like optical image stabilization (OIS), that would be limited to the bigger, slightly more expensive Plus model is unknown.

iPhone 7 wireless charging

Up until mid-2015, it hadn't been possible to do wireless charging also known as inductive charging on a phone with a metal back. Since Apple switched from the glass of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s to the aluminum of the iPhone 5 and later models, that effectively meant the company couldn't offer wireless charging as well.
iPhone 7 Wireless Charging concept
Now methods for induction through metal are being introduced, which means it's possible Apple could keep the aluminum back and offer wireless charging. The iPhone 7 is the first iPhone Apple could launch with the feature, if the company chooses to.

If Apple is serious about removing the 3.5mm headphone jack, wireless charging would be away to let customers listen via Lightning while charging via inductive magnet.

Recent rumors have also suggested Apple is working on resonant inductive coupling, which would let devices charge even at a distance. (The greater the distance, the lower the efficiency.) Such technology is likely a year or more away, though.

What do we know for sure?