Later this year, Apple will release its third phablet-sized device, when the iPhone 7 Plus is unveiled. At one time it seemed unlikely that the consumer electronics giant would ever opt to release a smartphone with a 5.5-inch display, but considering the success that Samsung had in the marketplace with its range of phablets, this eventually became inevitable.

The iPhone Plus range is now established as a critical part of the Apple stable. Fulfilling a market that is occupied between the standard smartphone and tablet devices, the iPhone 7 Plus will be another important release for Apple later this year. But what can we expect from the iPhone 7 Plus, and how will Apple improve on last year’s handset? Here are all the latest rumors and leaks regarding this phablet.

Apple To Cram iPhone 7 Plus With New Features

iPhone 7 Plus release date

The first thing to note that the iPhone 7 Plus will simply launch alongside the iPhone 7, as in previous years. There is no particular reason to believe that Apple will dispense with the usual release schedule for the iPhone range, and this will mean that the iPhone 7 Plus will arrive in September 2016. It seems probable at this juncture that Apple will release the iPhone 5SE in spring of this year, so it should be a dual release by the time September rolls around.

Design

Most experts are expecting that Apple will significantly redesign the iPhone 7 Plus when it is released later this year. This is indicated by the new iPhone 7 moniker that is attached to the smartphone; Apple typically revolutionizes the smartphone range on a biannual basis. So we can expect a smartphone that is significantly different in appearance when it emerges later this year.

Headphone jack removed

In addition to the redesign of the basic physical iPhone concept, it is also likely that the iPhone 7 Plus will not feature the headphone jack that is typically included in the unit. Apple is intending to remove this from the iPhone 7 Plus, achieving the aim of slimming down the mobile considerably. Wireless headphones are anticipated instead, and it is possible that a Lightning connector solution could also be embraced.

Home button eliminated

There have also been persistent rumors that Apple could remove the Home button completely from the iPhone 7 Plus when the two smartphones are released. Of course, if this is the case then the consumer electronics giant will need to ensure that the 3D Touch technology that it unveiled last year is seriously enhanced.

With this in mind, it is also suggested that TouchID could be built into the screen of the iPhone 7 Plus. Technology that would enable this development to go live was recently announced by the biometric R&D company Sonavation. The company indicated that it had achieved an industrial milestone by successfully developing and bonding an ultrasound biometric sensor which is compatible with Corning Gorilla Glass.

This would also suggest that the iPhone 7 Plus will not utilize Sapphire Glass as is often suggested, and which has been linked with the iPhone range now for a couple of years at least.

Apple To Cram iPhone 7 Plus With New Features

Display

One of the most interesting rumors about the display in the iPhone 7 Plus is the suggestion that Apple will enlist its great rival Samsung to manufacture a flexible OLED screen. If this is the case, it is likely that the iPhone 7 Plus display would be bumped up to quad HD; an exciting prospect for Apple users. It is likely that Apple will stick with the 5.5-inch screen that it has utilized in previous iPhone Plus releases, but the overall size of the unit could be reduced if Apple instigates one of a number of possible innovations.

Apple has also filed patents for a wraparound screen, enabling the iPhone 7 to potentially feature an edge-to-edge display. Apple files patents extremely regularly that have yet to turn up in any iDevices, but it is by no means inconceivable that we could see a significant redesign of the screen included in the iPhone 7 Plus.

Glove detection

There have been all manner of possible new features already linked with the iPhone 7 Plus, and again referring to Apple’s patents would indicate that the innovative company has certainly been beavering away diligently. One of the more interesting patent applications made by Apple suggests that it will be possible to utilize the iPhone 7 Plus while using gloves. Patent 20150338983, called Glove Touch Detection, describes an algorithm “for dynamically adjusting the conditions for identifying input patches as touching a touch sensitive device to detect gloved touches”.

Waterproofing / dustproofing

It is expected that Apple will place a greater focus on health-tracking functionality in the iPhone 7 later this year, and another spectacular patent from the corporation suggest that the iPhone will have the ability to expel water from its body. The rather graphically named patent application 20150326959 is called Liquid Expulsion from an Orifice! And it is described thus:

“The embodiments described herein are directed to an acoustic module that is configured to remove all or a portion of a liquid that has accumulated within a cavity of the acoustic modules.”

With the Apple Watch 2 expected to step up the health-related features in the smartwatch range, it is expected that Apple will place a greater emphasis on health tracking in its general product range. Ensuring that the iPhone 7 Plus is significantly waterproof and dustproof would play a major role in this process.

Wireless charging and USB Type-C

Apple is also expected to catch up with Samsung and finally embrace wireless charging when the iPhone 7 Plus is released. Inductive charging has been impractical for the iPhone in previous years owing to the aluminum design of the smartphone, but the technology is now moving on, with Qualcomm announcing a wireless charging breakthrough that does work through metal.

Expect Apple to include this in the iPhone 7 Plus, and also for the phablet to embrace the flexible USB Type-C technology that is considered the state of the art in this area.