UPDATE 30-6-2016 17:33 EST: Another week passes by, and another leak from China indicates the shape of the forthcoming iPhone 7. The latest report from the world’s most populous nation suggests that Apple will ditch the 16GB storage tier this year, and replace it with a 32GB smartphone. The whispers from China also indicate that Apple will indeed release three variants of the iPhone during the calendar year, with the iPhone 7 Pro phablet to be introduced for the first time.

This widely rumored phablet will unveil alongside the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, meaning that Apple unveils three variants of the iPhone range simultaneously for the first time in its history.

A social media post on Weibo not only suggests that the 16GB version of the iPhone will be eliminated alongside the introduction of the iPhone 7 Pro, but also suggests some possible pricing in China for the smartphone:

iPhone 7: ¥5288 (32GB), ¥6088 (128GB), ¥7088 (256GB)
iPhone 7 Plus: ¥6088 (32GB), ¥6888 (128GB), ¥7888 (256GB)
iPhone 7 Pro: ¥7088 (32GB), ¥7888 (128GB), ¥8888 (256GB)

Conservative chip orders

Elsewhere, information has emerged this week indicating that Apple will be significantly more conservative with the orders for chips related to the iPhone 7. Apple typically places orders with the chip assembly company Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE), and the rumors in the media this week are that Apple will face weaker demand for this generation of the handset in comparison to previous release cycles.

“The big client in the U.S. is a little more conservative when placing orders this year,” Tien Wu, ASE’s chief operating officer, indicated in advance of the company’s annual shareholder meeting, spawning the impression that Apple will struggle to shift iPhone 7 units.

Headphone jack rumors persist

Forbes also suggested this week that the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 will indeed be removed; a rumor which has been doing the rounds for several months now. The authoritative business publication pointed to a recent leaked image of a gold iPhone 7 chassis, which has been designed without the 3.5 mm headphone jack.

The design seemingly has cutouts in its place, with the intention of including another stereo speaker within the iPhone 7. This suggestion is entirely consistent with previous murmurings that Apple would include stereo speakers and sound in the iPhone once this headphone jack has indeed been removed. Meanwhile, Apple is expected to move to a wireless system instead of the traditional headphone jack.

A singular hole for a camera in the same image suggests that the smaller version of the iPhone 7 will not benefit from a dual-camera setup.

UPDATE 23-6-2016 15:09 EST: Although it seems certain that Apple will ultimately opt to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 when it arrives in autumn, not all fans of the flagship smartphone range are particularly enthusiastic about this prospect.

Radical changes are always likely to prompt a counter-reaction, and ditching one of the most notable physical features on a 10-year-old device was always likely to meet with some opprobrium. But it seems that Apple fans feel particularly strongly about the iPhone 7 going going wireless for its music-playing capabilities, and have thus launched an online petition on the subject.

Over 300,000 people have already signed the petition in question, which urges the consumer electronic giant to refrain from removing the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 unit.

Apple certainly has yet to confirm that this will indeed even take place, but online reports increasingly suggest that the headphone jack will be no more by the time that the iPhone 7 hits the stores. It is proposed that Apple will rely on the Lightning cable port, which is currently utilized for charging, in order to produce sound output.

There are technical and logistical reasons why Apple seemingly wishes to do this, but the consumer electronics behemoth obviously faces some opposition in doing so.

The Verge, the popular tech website, suggested that “removing [the] headphone [socket] from phones is something that no-one is asking for and has serious drawbacks including poor compatibility and accessibility, [and] DRM [digital rights management] audio issues”. It is thought that problems with built-in copyright enforcement will be particularly notable with this aspect of the device.

Conversely, some reports have supported the idea of removing the headphone jack, and updating a smartphone which has not seen significant physical changes in the last couple of iterations. John Gruber, who writes the technology blog Daring Fireball, is something of an authority on Apple products, suggests that the change is inevitable.

Gruber believes that removing the headphones jack will enable Apple to include a larger battery, and that this will be far more preferable for the California-based company than retaining an outdated feature. Gruber states that “what makes Apple different is that hey will initiate a painful transition for a long-term gain.”

Chassis to be retained

Aside from this major headphone alteration, it is now believe that Apple will retain largely the same design for the iPhone 7 as was used for the iPhone 6S. This would be an interesting eventuality, as it would represent the first time that Apple has retained the same external chassis for its flagship smartphone range for three years in the entire history of the device.

This notion will accelerate suggestions that the iPhone 8 will launch next year rather than 2018, and that many of the more revolutionary design and feature elements linked with the iPhone series will emerge at that time.

Pricing leaks

Meanwhile, a link on the Chinese social media site Weibo in the last couple of days suggests that the iPhone 7 will be priced at exactly the same level in China as the existing iPhone 6S. However, Apple fans will actually get more for their money in 2016 than last year, as it is suggested that the 16GB version of the smartphone will be abandoned completely, while a premium 256GB variant will also be released for the first time.

It has been widely suggested that Apple would double the memory quotient in its most powerful variant of the iPhone in the iPhone 7 generation, as modern technology continues to put an increasing strain on smartphone storage.

Pro model confirmed?

The leak also seemed to confirm the existence of the iPhone 7 Pro; a rumored custard-sized version of the iPhone 7 which could launch for the first time in this generation. The iPhone 7 Pro has been particularly linked with dual-camera technology, and the existence of this would mean that Apple releases three separate iPhone variants simultaneously for the first time in its history.

Concept designs emerge

 

Meanwhile, as Apple continues to prepare the iPhone 7 for release, concept designers have presented their latest thoughts on how this premium smartphone may ultimately turnout. The latest attempt comes from Sonny Dickson, who tweeted out a rose gold iPhone 7 featuring rumored redesigned antenna lines and a sizeable dual-lens camera. Dickson imagines that the design will also include a shiny stainless steel band.

Other iPhone leaks have suggested that the smartphone will include a capacitive Home button, and one that will lose the ability to be operated via a clicking mechanism. However, this has already been touted as a fake, and other purported leaks have been equally dubious.

Nonetheless, one design, featuring a robot eye camera and iPad Pro-style Smart Connector along the back has proved particularly popular, as anticipation of the release of the iPhone 7 grows among fans.

UPDATE 20-6-2016:

For the past several months, there have been leaks and rumors suggesting that the upcoming iPhone 7 will get rid of the 3.5mm headphone jack. It would have forced users to rely on the Lightning or Bluetooth-compatible headphones. However, a new report coming out of China claims that the iPhone 7 will retain the 3.5mm headphone jack. The same report says the next-gen iPhone will be the first Apple device to sport dual-SIM trays.

iPhone 7 Dual SIM
Image Credit: Rock Fix/Weibo

Next iPhone to have 256GB storage

A Chinese smartphone repair shop Rock Fix (via Engadget) has been posting images of iPhone 7 components. The first image shows the 4.7-inch model’s Lightning cable assembly that has a 3.5mm headphone jack attached. Another image shows dual-SIM trays that Rock Fix claims are intended for the iPhone 7. If true, it will be a first in the iPhone lineup.

Other images show the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screen panels. You can also see a SanDisk memory chip that suggests a 256GB storage option. Earlier this month, there were rumors that Apple was planning to drop the 16GB model and offer the next-gen iPhone in 32GB, 128GB and 256GB storage variants. The Chinese repair shop’s images also show a dual-lens camera, but that will be reserved only for the larger 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus.

iPhone 7 enters mass production

Rock Fix told Engadget that the next-gen iPhone will also see some changes in the antenna design, but the antenna bands will remain on the rear. According to noted tipster OnLeaks, Apple’s partner Pegatron has begun the mass production of the 4.7-inch model, while all the iPhone 7 Plus units will be assembled by Foxconn. The upcoming iPhone is said to accommodate 3GB RAM and a Smart Connector.

Separately, there are rumors indicating that the next-gen iPhone might ditch the space gray color option in favor of a deep navy blue. It would be the first time Apple has dropped a major color that it sells the iPhone in.

UPDATE 17-6-2016:

There is no doubting the most significant item of consumer electronics in the remainder of 2016, with Apple planning the iPhone 7 for a September release date. This huge seller for the world’s leader in the mobile niche will represent a new iPhone generation, as indicated by the 7 numeral appearing in the iPhone branding for the first time.


iPhone 7 dual camera lens

Previous generations

So this is the seventh iPhone generation, but effectively the twelfth iPhone release (depending on whether or how you count some of the older iPhones!). Apple will be looking to build on the successes of the iPhone 6S, which delivered another slick package to mobile users all over the world, even as it was a little conservative for the taste of some consumers.

Although the moniker of the iPhone 7 will bear a new numeral, the reality is that the iPhone 6S will be the design basis for this smartphone, with Apple expected to make few explicit changes to the appearance of the device. Despite any criticisms which have been directed at the iPhone in recent years, the fact remains that the visage of the device is a classic, and the design parameters of Apple remain unequalled in the industry.

Models

Reports on the iPhone 7 have suggested that Apple could decide to include a third model when the iPhone 7 generation hits the stores. The mooted iPhone 7 Pro is a phablet-sized handset, intended to supplement the already successful iPhone 7 Plus. Analysts have indicated that this new phablet will focus on improved photographic capabilities, with a dual-camera setup central to this process.

However, other reports have indicated that the iPhone 7 Pro could be a red herring, and that Apple will instead choose to arm the standard iPhone 7 Plus with dual-lens capabilities. What is certain is that the standard iPhone 7 smartphone will remain in the mass market device, with somewhat reduced specs in comparison to its larger cousin(s).

Display

Nonetheless, there will be pressure on Apple to improve the display resolution in all of its device releases this time round, as the corporation has yet to release a smartphone which even features full HD resolution. The fact that the screen of the iPhone is somewhat smaller than its most prominent rivals does mean that the ppi rating of the smartphone does not suffer as much as might be expected. But surely Apple will strongly consider releasing a quad HD phablet and full HD smartphone with the iPhone 7.

There have been rumors of a curved screen variant of the iPhone emerging eventually, and it is known that Apple has already patented this technology, but it seems unlikely that this will emerge in the iPhone 7 generation. However, recent reports have suggested that Apple is considering eliminating the bezels in the device completely, meaning that the iPhone 7 would benefit from an edge-to-edge display. This would be utilized in order to slim down the iPhone 7, rather than including a larger screen.

New features

Apple is expected to ensure that the iPhone 7 is significantly waterproof and dustproof, possibly aiming for IP69 certification. There will also be a greater emphasis on music, with the trusty headphone jack, which has been part of the iPhone since its inception, likely to be eliminated in favor of a wireless headphone system.

It has also been suggested that Apple will beef up security in the iPhone 7, and this could necessitate some form of biometric upgrade.

Price

It seems unlikely that Apple will increase the price of the iPhone 7 in comparison to the last generation iPhone 6S, particularly considering the rather conservative upgrades that are considered likely by analysts. In addition, Apple itself has already predicted that it will shift less iPhone units in 2016 than during the previous calendar year, which would be a first for the corporation since the iPhone was first launched in 2007. This prediction would suggest that the California-based company is hardly in a strong position to increase the price of its flagship smartphone.

So expect price freezes from the iPhone 6S generation for both the smartphone and phablet models of the iPhone 7, whether purchasing the device on or off-contract.

Release date

There is no reason to believe that the iPhone will hit the stores at any other time than September. Apple certainly keeps its cards very close to its chest until it is ready to reveal any information about a forthcoming hardware device, but the corporation is extremely likely to follow the release schedule from the iPhone 6S. This implies a release for the iPhone 7 in the second week of September, with a September 7 release date possible based on previous precedent.

Home button

Rumors this week suggest that the Home button in the iPhone 7 could be redesigned significantly, as MobiPicker has published photos of what it believes to be the biggest redesign in the iPhone range since TouchID. MobiPicker suggests that the iPhone Home button will be replaced with a touch sensitive surface, with the button in fact perfectly level and incapable of being pressed inwards. The Home button will instead be touch-sensitive, and users will be able to perform tapping actions for various functions.

Whispers dating back several years have previously suggested that Apple would eliminate the conventional Home button eventually, and it is just possible that the iPhone 7 could be the device to deliver this innovation.

No dual-camera?

Meanwhile, another report this week suggests that the iPhone 7 will not receive a dual-camera in 2016. This is based on a leak which purports to emanate from the internal staff of Foxconn – a key Apple supply chain partner – with Apple apparently experiencing technical difficulties in implementing this technology. Whether or not this will turn out to be accurate remains to be seen, and it is certainly know that Apple has been working on this technology behind the scenes.

We will have more on all of the latest updates, rumors and links related to the iPhone 7 on this page in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more Apple info.