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February 19 2017


July 06 2015

8680 0d30 420

More iPhone 7 rumours

Few high-profile design changes: Having come up with an all-new aesthetic for the iPhone 6, Apple is unlikely to alter the overall look and feel of the handset for the next update. Until recently, the assumption was that the iPhone 6S or iPhone 7 would look all but identical to its predecessor, but the latest reports suggest that the new phone may be slightly thicker, taller and wider (see above). Most analysts still believe that there will be no dramatic redesign, with most physical changes imperceptible at first glance. 

New aluminium frame: Although the design is unlikely to change substantially, it may be built from a new material. According to Taiwan's Economic Daily News, Apple is planning to make use of the "Series 7000" aluminium alloy it developed for the Apple Watch on its smartphones too. The metal is "designed to be 60 per cent stronger than most aluminum, and one-third the density of stainless steel, while still maintaining a light weight", MacRumors says.

Front-facing camera upgrade: A developer scouring the code of Apple's latest operating system, iOS 9, which is expected to launch at the same time as the next iPhone, has found clues about what we can expect from the new model. Hamsa Sood says the "selfie-cam" on the new iPhone will be capable of shooting slow-motion, 240 frame-per-second video, along with 1080p video at normal speed, and panoramic still images. This is the only significant leak so far about the front-facing camera, but Sood has been a reliable source of of advance information about previous Apple launches.

Four-inch iPhone 6C or 7C: The rumour that refuses to die… Perhaps more in hope than expectation, a range of Apple-watchers have been predicting that the company will supplement its iPhone range with a high-spec four-inch-screen iPhone mini. Apple used to specialise in small-screened phones, but since the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, fans of four-inchers have had to make do with the 5S which is beginning to show its age. Leaks suggest that Apple will keep building a four-inch phone, but it remains unclear whether it will be an all-new iPhone Mini or an updated version of the 5S.

No more plastic strips: From the front, the iPhone 6 is a handsome device, but for many the flipside is spoiled by the translucent plastic strips that interrupt the smooth aluminium frame. They're necessary because they allow radio waves to penetrate the casing and reach the antenna inside, but Apple is clearly keen to find a more elegant solution. TechRadar reports that the company has filed a patent that describes a material made from a blend of metal oxides that "looks and feels like metal, but will still allow radio frequencies to pass through". The result, it says, would be an iPhone 7 that "could retain a premium all-metal look and feel without compromising wireless strength".

Force Touch: The Apple Watch introduced a feature called Force Touch, enabling it to differentiate between a light touch and a firmer tap on its screen. The system, intended to speed up and refine touchscreen controls within the watch's space constraints, is now likely to be rolled out across Apple's smartphone range too, as well as its MacBook laptop trackpads.  

Higher-resolution screen: When Apple launched the iPhone 4 in June 2010, it said the "Retina" screen provided the maximum resolution perceptible to the human eye. Nevertheless, it stepped up resolution for the iPhone 6 Plus, boosting pixels per inch from 326 to 401 for its supersized smartphone and describing the new screen as a "Retina HD Display". The 4.7-inch model retained the 326ppi screen, but reports from China quoting supply chain sources suggest that the smaller version of the iPhone 7 may get a screen that's slightly larger and significantly sharper. "The iPhone 7 could very well sport a five-inch screen with 400ppi resolution," says IT Pro. Changing the size of the screen would be an unusual step for the first upgrade following a major redesign, but it would tally with the claim that the frame of the new handset will also be slightly larger than the one it replaces.

Samsung chips: It may be all change under the skin too, if reports that Samsung will be making the iPhone 6S or 7 processors proves correct. Bloomberg quotes "people with direct knowledge of the matter" who say that Samsung has regained its monopoly on Apple's chip business. Last year it lost part of the contract to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.

Dual-lens camera: In February rumours emerged that the camera could be in line for a substantial overhaul. John Gruber of Daring Fireball, a respected source of Apple information, said he has heard that the iPhone 7 might get "the biggest camera jump ever". He added: "I don't even know what sense this makes, but I've heard that it's some kind of weird two-lens system where the back camera uses two lenses and it somehow takes it up into DSLR quality imagery." That vague suggestion has now been largely discredited, as adding a second lens to the rear of the camera would require a thorough redesign of the handset chassis, and that's unlikely so soon after the all-new iPhone 6 was released. Nevertheless, much speculation has been devoted to the camera, and changes are still expected.

3-D camera: Another long-shot, but not entirely out of the question. Apple has recently snapped up an Israeli-based company called LinX, which specialises in high-tech camera sensors. That, according to Business Insider, could have a dramatic effect on the camera capability of the iPhone 7. "LinX's technology won't only enable the iPhone to take better, sharper images – it could also allow the phone to capture three-dimensional photos, eliminate an annoying aesthetic problem where the cameras on the latest iPhones stick out, and solve a bunch of other problems." Having spent $20m acquiring the company, Apple is likely to be looking for ways to capitalise on the technology it now owns – but it may not be ready in time for the iPhone 7.

The demise of the iPhone 5C: When Apple introduced the multi-coloured iPhone 5C in 2014, it was seen as a bit to broaden the appeal of the phone beyond the premium market. However, sales figures for the 5C have been disappointing, while the high-end iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have been runaway successes. It therefore seems likely that Apple will kill off its sub-prime plastic handset - but keep on the aluminium-framed iPhone 5S to cater for customers who still want a four-inch smartphone.
A built-in Sim card: This is already in use on the iPad, but is likely to be resisted by Apple's mobile network partners. Building a Sim card into the body of the iPhone 6S would allow engineers to save valuable space within the handset's chassis, allowing them either to slim down the frame, make the battery bigger or add new components such as a second rear-facing camera lens (see above). In theory it would also allow customers to switch more easily between mobile network providers, but in practice networks would probably restrict that facility.

More powerful processor: In January a Taiwanese tech news website reported that sources in the Apple supply chain had revealed that the iPhone 6S would have 2GB of Ram, twice what's available in the iPhone 6. It seemed like a credible claim given that Apple often upgrades processor chips the year after it releases an all-new iPhone design, and it has since been backed up by similar reports from other sources. AppleInsider reported last week that its own inside man has confirmed that the new phones will go on sale with a 2GB chip. "Additional Ram would allow iOS to leave background tasks and tabs in Safari open for longer without a need to reload or refresh," it says. "But additional RAM can also come with costs to battery life, as memory constantly consumes power."

Waterproof casing and components: Another patent application filed by Apple shows that the company is working on ways to waterproof its devices, although it's not clear whether the technology will be ready in time to make a debut on the iPhone 6S. According to the patent documents, Apple is not planning to rely on sealed phone casings, but will instead coat individual electric components within the iPhone with a water-repellant film.

Sapphire crystal display: Persistent rumours and reports suggested that the last iPhone would benefit from a sapphire crystal screen coating - and immensely strong glass-like substance that is highly scratch resistance - but in the end it never materialised. Reports suggest that Apple and its suppliers had trouble manufacturing sufficient quantities to equip the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but already the rumour mill is chattering about the prospect of a sapphire crystal iPhone 7. That may be wishful thinking, but one thing is confirmed: the company is planning to use sapphire crystal for the Apple Watch, which is due this spring.

Improved TouchID sensor: The company has big plans for Apple Pay, the payment system that it hopes will take the place of credit and debit cards for in-store transactions. According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the company is preparing "a better and and safer Apple Pay user experience by reducing reading errors" of its fingerprint scanner. That may also help to allay security fears as British banks give customers the option to sign in to their accounts using TouchID.

Pretty in pink: one aesthetic change we can expect is a new colour added to the iPhone 6S palette, according to the Wall Street Journal. The paper has spoken to a source who has confirmed that the next model will keep the same screen sizes as the current phone, but will be available in pink as well as black, white and gold. In formulating the particular shade of pink, Apple seems more likely to follow the lead of the rose gold Apple Watch rather than the candy-bright iPhone 5C. More recent reports suggest that other iPhone colours will be brought into line with those of the Apple Watch: space grey will become darker and gold will be yellower in tone.

A trade-in scheme for non iPhone users: iPhone owners are already able to trade in old phones for the latest models, and now Apple is planning to extend the offer to owners of smartphones made by other companies. "Apple will soon introduce a new recycling and trade-in program that will accept non-Apple smartphones, notably including Android and BlackBerry devices, in exchange for gift cards to be used toward the purchase of new iPhones," reports 9to5Mac.com. The program is designed to encourage more people to make the switch to Apple, in the hope of developing long-term customers.

iPhone 6S or 7 price: There is no word yet on the likely cost of the next iPhone, but we can be sure that it will be at least as expensive as the existing model. That means an entry level price of £539 for a 16GB, 4.7-inch model, and £619 for the 5.5-inch plus model. However, prices may be even higher if Apple follows Samsung's lead. The latter has priced the Galaxy S6 Edge at £760, which may tempt Apple to push up its own prices and profit margins.
Tags: iPhone 6S or 7
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