As Apple continues its preparations for the forthcoming iPhone 7, many fans and industry observers are wondering whether the next generation device will be a huge departure from the existing iPhone 6S. Early indications from the likes of KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggest that the iPhone 7 may be something of an incremental upgrade to the iPhone 6S, with the major smartphone revolution coming next year with the release of the iPhone 8.

iPhone 7 schematics

iPhone 7 Schematic leak

Shedding more light on this particular subject in the last few days has been the leaking of a pair of new iPhone 7 schematics. These apparently depicted the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch SKUs of Apple’s next generation flagship smartphone. The smaller smartphone version of the iPhone 7 is pretty much as expected by analysts, significantly resembling the iPhone 6S, with rear camera and antenna lines in approximately the same position as in the previous generation.

However, the iPhone 7, as has been widely predicted, will eliminate the unsightly camera bulge that was much criticized in the previous smartphone. This is achieved at a very minor cost, with the iPhone 7 actually slightly thicker than the previous generation iPhone 6S according to schematics; 7.2mm as opposed to 7.1mm. This is hardly a major deal, and in fact will be barely perceptible whatsoever.

Headphone jack no more

The documents also indicated another major design decision which Apple has apparently committed to, namely the removal of the headphone jack from the device. This had been widely anticipated for some time, with Apple expected to rely on wireless technology instead. Interestingly, the schematics indicate that Apple will utilize the space freed up by the removal of the headphone jack for a second speaker grille. This is reminiscent of recent iPad releases, which have included quad speaker systems in order to improve the music playability of the devices.

However, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the schematic is related to the phablet-size 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus. The leaked drawings suggest that this phablet will feature a frameless display which sees the screen of the iPhone 7 Plus stretch from edge-to-edge. This would be a revolutionary move for the iPhone 7 Plus, although some analysts who have viewed these sketchings believe that this is an error rather than a likely aspect of the next-generation phablet.

It is also interesting to note in the iPhone 7 Plus rendering that the FaceTime camera has also not been drawn in the picture. What appears to be the case is that a physical hole in the case is integrated behind the screen. This has not really been linked with the iPhone 7 Plus in recent industry analysis, but it is notable that the consumer electronics giant has already patented technology capable of producing this effect.

So can we take this latest piece of evidence seriously? Well, very few Apple observers were expecting a bezel-less iPhone 7 Plus; the general consensus of opinion is that the design of the device will be extremely similar to the existing iPhone 6S. The belief of people close to the Apple supply chain is that Apple will be rather conservative with the design of the iPhone 7, and invest more significant resources in revolutionizing the iPhone 8 when it is released next year.

AMOLED coming in 2017

One of the major factors which suggests that the iPhone 7 will be rather similar to the iPhone 6S is the suggestion that Apple will make major screen changes next year. It has been reported that the consumer electronics giant will switch to AMOLED display technology for the iPhone 8, thus abandoning the LCD which has been an Apple staple in the entire history of the iPhone series.

Reports have already emanated suggesting that Apple has entered into negotiations with its great rival Samsung over this issue, with a view to including similar technology to the Galaxy range in the next generation iPhone. If this does indeed turn out to be the case then it would make little sense for the California-based corporation to significantly redesign the iPhone 7.

Sales predictions

Another major suggestion which points to the idea that the iPhone 7 will be a minor upgrade on the iPhone 6S is the prediction of Apple itself with regard to sales. The Cupertino-based company has already predicted that it will sell less iPhone units in 2016 than in the previous calendar year; hardly a prediction that Apple would be likely to make if it was intending to completely revolutionize the iPhone series.

Indeed, the climate may be such that it makes sense for Apple to make an incremental upgrade to the iPhone 6S rather than attempting something more ambitious. In general, it is predicted that the smartphone marketplace will recede slightly in 2016, with emerging marketplaces no longer providing the growth on which Apple has relied in recent years.

Media whispers have already suggested that the iPhone 8 could also impact upon the sales of the iPhone 7, with the smart money increasingly being placed on the 2017 version of the iPhone being a revolutionary unit. This could encourage even loyal Apple consumers to skip a generation when the iPhone 7 is released, and this will be significantly more likely if the 2016 smartphone does not include any particularly outstanding new features.

Apple tidy up

So what can we expect from the iPhone 7 when it launches in a couple of month’s time? Apple will tidy up some of the physical features that were sub-par in last year’s release, while also ensuring that the iPhone 7 is a slicker and more powerful device than the iPhone 6S. This will probably mean relatively minor spec upgrades, although a dual-camera setup is expected for at least the phablet version of the handset.

While it has been a shaky time for Apple in the marketplace, and the stock of the corporation has been trading in a significantly bearish pattern, it does not seem that Apple will take huge risks with the next generation iPhone 7. The time is not right for the Californian consumer electronics behemoth to push the boat out with the iPhone 7, and consumers should expect relatively minor upgrades in comparison to the iPhone 6S.