Apple’s September iPhone 7 launch feels like a long way off, but any seasoned gadget fan knows that the rumour mill will only pick up steam as each day passes.
As always, it’s best to take the rumours with a pinch of salt, but they’re still useful in painting a rough picture of what we can expect to see come launch day.
We’ll be updating this preview with all the latest news, as and when we get it, so don’t forget to check back for your regular iFix.
Hit the road jack
Given that the iPhone 7 is coming off the back of an ’s’ version, we expect to see some design changes.
It’ll come as no surprise to hear that the iPhone 7 is expected to be even thinner than the current 7.1mm iPhone 6s, and analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reckons Apple could trim down its new handset to as little as 6mm, and newer reports point to a 6.1mm-thin body.
If true, then we're concerned that the battery capacity won't be up to scratch, even with Apple's expected optimisations, though it’ll undoubtedly look and feel beautiful.
Spot the difference
The iPhone 7’s incredible slenderness is reportedly down to a thinner Lightning port, and the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack, so we’ll have to wait and see if Apple really does have the guts to axe such a well-established port, forcing people to snap up Bluetooth or Lightning port-compatible headphones.
It sounds ridiculous, but multiple sources have predicted the death of the headphone jack, so we’ll have to wait and see if Apple really does have the guts to axe such a well-established port.
According to rumour blog Mac Okatara, sources at Taiwan's Computex Taipei 2016 tech expo have claimed that while the 3.5mm socket is indeed leaving the next iPhone, the phone will still come supplied with the current set of EarPod 3.5mm headphones. You'll be able to plug these (or any standard headphones) in via a 3.5-to-Lightning adapter, also supplied in the iPhone's box.
The report also claims that the space previously occupied by the 3.5mm jack will be used for an extra speaker grille, giving the iPhone 7 two grilles on its bottom edge. It cautions that the speaker output will remain monaural rather than stereo, though, before you start planning your first iPhone 7-based disco.
As for the handset itself? Expect to see the return of an all-metal body, with - according to Digitimes - new waterproofing powers to boot.
Newer design leaks and renders also show off a slight change to the two plastic antenna strips, which no longer form a band across the device’s rear.
The overall design may be fairly similar to the iPhone 6 and 6s, but according to Mac Otakara an update to the ambient light and proximity sensors, and an increase in the size of the rear camera lens, mean that you won't be able to use existing cases and screen protector films.
The iPhone 7 Plus, while similar, apparently has a couple of fairly major design changes, the most striking of which is a pair of rear cameras which protrude rather noticeably.
The other addition, according to the most recent leak, shows off what appears to be a three-dot Smart Connector at the bottom, similar to the one found on the iPad Pro which lets it connect to various accessories.
We even got in on the leaking action ourselves, teaming up with @onleaks to get exclusive access to digital plans showing the iPhone 7 Plus and its new features. The CAD files confirm the missing headphone jack, single speaker, and Smart Connector on the back, as well as the dual camera setup.
Case makers have done the dirty on Apple's confidential plans as well, showing off their protective covers (complete with iPhone 7 Plus mockups inside) before the official reveal. There are several cases already listed on MobileFun, so expect more to follow ahead of launch.
What's in a name?
The biggest mystery surrounding the iPhone 7 Plus isn't what it'll look like - all that has pretty much leaked in full. It's whether Apple will give it a name change to coincide with all the extra bangs and whistles.
Ever since the iPad Pro arrived, we've heard whispers that an iPhone 7 Pro could be on the cards. That would definitely make it clear the bigger phone is a very different beast from the vanilla iPhone 7.
It's pretty unlikely, but Apple could decide to shake up its entire naming convention, dropping numbers completely and just having "iPhone" and "iPhone Pro", like it has MacBook and MacBook Pro. Of course, there's still the MacBook Air...
Clearly anything could happen at September's launch event - we'll just have to wait until then (or for a better leak) to put an official name on both new phones.
We don’t see Apple straying from the 4.7in and 5.5in screen sizes that currently grace the Phone 6s and 6s Plus. What we could (hopefully) see however, is an increase in the resolution, to at least 2K.
Apple has lagged behind its Android rivals in the resolution wars for quite some time now, and we imagine that iPhone 7 will finally be the handset that catches up.
While Apple has also had links to producing OLED iPhone displays, analysts originally didn't expect them to feature in Apple handsets earlier than the iPhone 8. However, an 18 June report from Nikkei says some OLED Apple devices may arrive in 2017, and that Samsung has ramped up its OLED panel production in order to supply these (yes, despite the companies' bitter rivalry, Samsung does supply Apple with vital components). So don't be too shocked if the iPhone 7 ends up being the first OLED iPhone.
3D Touch will of course be sticking around too, hopefully reaching its full potential by the time the iPhone 7 release date rolls around. Get cracking, developers.
A new Touch ID button?
While the Touch ID fingerprint sensor is sure to return, it may do so in a somewhat different guise. Analysts at Cowen & Company (as reported by AppleInsider) claim the old physical Touch ID button will be tossed out and replaced by a solid state capacitive component – essentially a touch-sensitive panel. There’s speculation that this may use Force Touch-style haptics to simulate the feel of pressing a mechanical button.
Some feel, however, that this new button is more likely to show up in the iPhone 7’s successor – Apple’s 2017 model.
Blown up camera
Given how long it took Apple to move on from an 8-megapixel camera to a 12-megapixel one, we doubt we’ll see another increase this time round.
That’s not to say that we won’t see other improvements though. We could see an increase in the sensor size and aperture, which would provide improved performance in low light conditions. It would also be nice if the iPhone 7 had optical image stabilisation, as currently that’s a feature that remains exclusive to the larger Plus brother.
A patent filing also points to the addition of a second rear camera lens. One lens could have an increased focal depth, resulting in digital zoom that won’t pixellate your shots to death. Simultaneous 4K and 1080p footage could also be captured, with one lens focusing on slow-motion video during the shoot.
The most recent leaks suggest that this second rear camera will be featured on the iPhone 7 Plus only.
Whether this is down to size constraints or simply the fact that Apple is pushing the Plus version as the more premium device, is unknown, but we have seen Apple do the same thing with optical image stabilisation - a feature which was limited to the iPhone 6 Plus.
Power in spades
It should come as no surprise to you when we say that the iPhone 7 will be the most powerful iPhone to date.
Apple has increased the power of each and every successive handset, and the iPhone 7 could really up the ante with a hexa-core A10 chip, at least according to the folks over at Chinese site Weibo.
It’s unlikely that we’ll see a RAM increase, given Apple’s past history of slow memory upgrades, but that hasn’t stopped analyst Ming-Chi Kuo from predicting that the iPhone 7 Plus will have an extra boost to 3GB of RAM.
All that power should be more than enough to keep the as-of-yet unreleased iOS 9 moving along, although there’s been little information on what new features the new OS will bring, at this time.
The same Rock Fix leak that showed off the dual-camera module also gave us a peep of a 256GB SanDisk-made flash storage drive, and Mac Otakara has also posited that a 256GB option will be available. That'd be the biggest storage yet on an iPhone, and given Apple's disdain for expandable storage, in our mind the most likely way for the iPhone to keep up with roomier rivals.
Rock Fix also showed off a pic of a dual SIM tray - again, something we haven't previously seen on an iPhone. Dual SIM setups are popular in China, so it's possible that this would be an option for the Far East market only.
Price and release date
The iPhone 7 should roughly be priced at around the same £540 price as the existing base model iPhone 6s, but that price could still fluctuate either way. The iPhone 7 Plus is a bit more difficult to nail down, because of those rumoured extra features. Two cameras cost twice as much to make, after all.
Apple likes to keep prices relatively stable between generations, though, so it might take the hit and match the iPhone 6S price at launch.
As usual, we expect Apple to reveal the new iPhone in the second week of September, with an actual release date set for around two weeks after.
Update 25/07: Serial leaker @evleaks has revealed that the iPhone 7 (and, indeed, the iPhone 7 Plus) will hit shelves on the "... week of September 12th".
Given that new iPhones traditionally launch on a Friday, it's a pretty safe bet to assume that the actual release date will therefore be 16 September. Still, until we get an invite from Apple and watch Tim Cook and co. take the stage, we're still going to swallow this all with unhealthy amount of salt.