The iPhone 7 and virtual reality are two of the hottest topics in the technology community right now, so you can imagine what fans would say if Apple is planning to make the iPhone 7 into the ultimate VR device. One blogger suggests that this is indeed the case, explaining why all the specs and rumors suggest that the iPhone 7 will be much more than just a smartphone.

iPhone 7
Photo by Jimmy Benson

Is Apple overconfident?

Jason Perlow of ZDNet argues against his colleague Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, who said in another post that Apple enjoys “unflinching brand loyalty given that their customers are so addicted to their products, and thus they are in a position to not give a crap.” Perlow essentially agrees with this view point (as do I) but notes that Chinese smartphone makers that sell their phones for far less than how much Apple sells its iPhones for haven’t yet landed in the U.S. As a result, Apple could face problems in the near future.

He also suggests that Apple appears to be overconfident going into the launch of the iPhone 7 despite the many reasons to be worried. Indeed, the latest sales numbers from the company’s suppliers suggest that Apple has big plans for this year’s iPhone cycle, and analysts are starting to come around to the idea that this year might bring a return to unit growth for the smartphone.

Perlow doesn’t expect a successful iPhone 7 cycle if the phone ends up being only a small upgrade as most are expecting. He adds that if this is what happens, then Apple is simply being arrogant and basically just resting on its laurels and punished for this “by an unforgiving market that is being disrupted by commoditization” courtesy the Chinese smartphone makers that are selling cheap handsets.

iPhone 7 as part of a VR system?

He then goes on to explain why he thinks the iPhone 7 could end up being just one piece in a full integrated virtual reality system. For example, he said that there haven’t been any recent rumors about the type of technology that will be used in the device’s display. He suggests that Apple may secretly have been working behind the scenes on a larger iPhone 7 model with a 4K display. He notes that Sharp said in April 2015 that it was beginning to produce 5.5-inch 4K IGZO screens with 806 ppi resolution, but then the company began to struggle financially and ultimately was bought by Apple supplier Foxconn.

His argument here is that the iPhone 7 Plus, or more probably, the rumored iPhone 7 Pro (he suggests), will have a 4K display, which of course would be a massive step up in terms of quality for the iPhone’s screen. IGZO technology would also mean better luminosity and accelerated reaction times, plus better battery efficiency in addition to the massive improvement in pixel density and resolution.

iPhone 7 Pro may have dual-camera system

We’ve also heard a lot about the supposed dual-camera system for the iPhone 7 Plus or iPhone 7 Plus, and Perlow notes that while this does have applications in technology, it could have strong implications for virtual reality. Having dual cameras would enable the phone’s user to shoot 3D photos, for example.

We’ve also been hearing that the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 will have a docking connector and stereo speakers, he adds. He suggests that the docking connector might actually be more for a keyboard, as some have suggested, and that perhaps it will help turn the iPhone 7 Pro into “the brains of a virtual reality/augmented reality headset.” A docking connector could be used to snap the phone into a headset in a fashion similar to how the Samsung Gear VR works with the Galaxy smartphones.

An end-game for the 64-bit chip

Of course stereo speakers would complete the picture by providing a truly immersive experience in the form of high-quality, realistic sound. We’ve also been hearing that Apple is ditching the standard headphone jack starting with the iPhone 7, and he suggests that the need for high-definition audio could be one of the reasons it is doing so. He suggests that Apple aims to integrate a digital audio converter into the smartphone so that it can send data to decoding devices that are compatible with it.

He also reminds readers that Apple added a 64-bit chip to the iPhone a couple of generations ago, making it the first smartphone maker to do this. At the time, many in the tech community said it was overkill and that there was no reason to include a 64-bit chip in a smartphone, at least not yet anyway. Perlow suggests that virtual reality is Apple’s end-game in terms of placing that 64-bit chip in the iPhone. As a result, he believes the A10 chip will be “a whopper” of a chip with “incredible GPU performance to match.”

iPhone 7 Pro like the iPad Pro?

So will the rumored iPhone 7 Pro actually be the guts of a virtual reality system? In my opinion, the name “iPhone 7 Pro” wouldn’t be very fitting because it sounds more like a productivity device designed to target the Galaxy Note line rather than a phone that’s targeting only hardcore gamers. The iPad Pro targets the PC market and is meant to be a sort of hybrid device for productivity rather than tablet specifically targeting gamers.

Of course improved components and power will naturally result in a better gaming experience, but at the end of the day, games generally don’t want the same things productivity power users do. It’s also possible that the “iPhone 7 Pro” name that the rumor mill has churned out is just plain wrong. I guess we’ll have to wait until next month to see who has it right.