The question of how many iPhone 7 models Apple will release this year has been up in the air for some time. Some sources believe that the consumer electronics giant will stick to the two versions of the smartphone which have been prominent in previous years. Other soothsayers have suggested that Apple will instead introduce a third model of the iPhone 7 in the likely September release window, with the iPhone 7 Pro phablet debuting alongside the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

iPhone 7 | 7 Plus | 7 Pro Coming With Three Storage Tiers

New phablet expected

But sources in China have once again suggested this week that the iPhone 7 Pro will indeed emerge in 2016. The Chinese social media site Weibo is the source of this information, with the website suggesting that the iPhone 7 will be offered in three variants. The leak also suggests that the iPhone 7 will retail at 5,288 yuan ($795) in China.

One of the interesting aspects of this latest leak is that Weibo suggests that Apple will release the iPhone 7 with a 32 /128 / 256GB tiered structure. While the suggestion of the introduction of a 256GB variant of the iPhone 7 is certainly nothing new, it had been reported in previous leaks that Apple would instead out for 32 /64 / 256GB tiers. Whether this Chinese information is accurate or not remains to be seen, but it would be somewhat surprising considering the multiplicity of reports which have suggested otherwise.

Nonetheless, it now seems increasingly clear that Apple will abandon the 16GB iPhone, which seem to be a wise decision in the current technology climate. Some publications have even gone as far as suggesting that the 16GB smartphone is an embarrassment for Apple, but at the very least it is something of an outdated concept when storage has become so stretched by contemporary media.

iPhone 7 Pro – 128GB conundrum

The reason that there is skepticism about the existence of the 128GB model is that it it could dissuade consumers from opting for the premium iPhone 7 smartphone. There have been reports which indicate that Samsung will not release a 256GB version of the Galaxy Note 7, and thus Apple will want to gain a real advantage over its rival by having consumers opt for the 256GB version of the iPhone 7.

However, if Apple offers a 128GB version, theoretically equal to the premium version of the Galaxy Note 7, this could dissuade some Apple fans from upgrading to the largest 256GB handset. In what will likely be a challenging year for Apple in the market anyway, this is the sort of marketing anomaly that the consumer electronics giant will obviously wish to avoid. So there must be a serious doubts over the 128GB version of the iPhone 7, but the other models certainly seem conceivable.

It is also worth noting that rumors have previously suggested that there will be a 128GB version of the Pro phablet. So the Chinese leakss could be related to the larger version of the iPhone 7, with the mass-market handset offered at the lower memory quantity.

Headphone jack to go

Another Asian leak seems to suggest another aspect of the iPhone 7 which has also been mooted for some time. A separate post on Weibo indicates that the iPhone 7 will indeed abandon the 3.5 mm headphone jack which has been a common feature of the handset since it was first introduced in 2007. It is believed that Apple wishes to transfer sound output to the versatile Lightning port, with Lightning Earpods also being launched in the iPhone 7 generation.

The leak provides images indicating that Apple will indeed go ahead with this plan in 2016. It is believed that Apple will pack a 3.5mm-to-Lightning adapter in iPhone 7 boxes, while also utilizing the space created to deliver stereo sound in the handset. Although this is a contentious decision to a certain extent, and one that will not find favor with all fans of the iPhone range, it nonetheless makes sense for Apple from a logistical and technological perspective. While a petition has already been launched on the Internet requesting Apple to retain the headphone jack, one should not expect to see it feature in the iPhone 7 when it releases in September.

3D Touch Home button

Elsewhere, yet another concept image of the iPhone 7 gives an intriguing insight into the possibility of a 3D Touch Home button. The odds may be against this ultimately appearing in the iPhone range in 2016, but it is nonetheless interesting to speculate how this feature may pan out when it eventually emerges in the handset.

According to reports, the iPhone 7 will be rather conservative, and Apple will hold back any revolutionary features until the iPhone 8 next year at the earliest. So the idea that Apple will eliminate the Home button at this juncture appears to be misguided, even though it has been oft rumored that the California-based company will indeed choose to do this sooner or later.

Nonetheless, a Reddit user by the name of “reximilian” can be proud of the handiwork which has gone into the 3D Touch Home button on his virtual iPhone 7. The render is very much based on the existing iPhone 6S, it is also noticeable that reximilian did not eliminate the headphone jack from the image; surely something of an oversight.

A 3D Touch Home button could possibly be implemented in the iPhone 8, which will mark the 10th anniversary of the iPhone range. Apple is likely to push the boat out more with this particular handset, with reports indicating that this generation of the smartphone will feature a new edge-to-edge OLED display.

While the release of the iPhone 7 remains a couple of months away, we now have a very good idea what to expect from this smartphone.