7 things the iPhone 7 needs to do to reclaim the top spot

If Apple did everything on our iPhone wish list they'd sell billions

So there's a new iPhone coming out next month.

What, you didn't know? Well neither do we, really, but come on - it's inevitable. September without an iPhone launch would be like December without, er, Zamenhof day

Anyway, we've heard plenty of rumours and reports about it in recent months, all of which tend to have the same core beliefs: the iPhone 7 will buck Apple's every-other-year trend of overhauling the design and simply refine and enhance the familiar form of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s.

Playing it safe? Hasn't Apple already been doing that in many ways? True, 3D Touch was a big enhancement, but Android flagships have hurtled past the iPhone in appeal over the last couple years, and Apple needs something big, important, and new to win our hearts back.

In fact we reckon it needs seven of them...

1) Start fresh

Apple iPhone 7 render

Look, the alternating-year model works: the iPhone 6 ushered in a new design and size, along with other notable shifts, and then the iPhone 6s refined and enhanced its feature set. And now it's time for something new again with the 7.

But no; sadly, the rumours suggest that Apple will wait until 2017 to really refresh the iPhone's design, just in time for its 10th anniversary, and that could mean that this year's phone will be another riff on the iPhone 6s. How could Apple possibly spin that as not being a disappointment?

It'll be a tough task, if true. Implementing the requests below could go a long way towards helping the new iPhone compete better against the top-end competition, but a third year of the same core phone isn't going to truly wow anyone. Not giving us a true iPhone 7 this year would risk some serious market stagnation.

Even if the internals aren't massively different, can't you at least give us some kind of design thrill, Apple?

2) Bump the resolution

Apple iPhone 6s

Most top-tier Android phones these days offer sparkling, pixel-packed Quad HD (2560x1440) displays that blast past 500ppi – that's pixels per inch – and stun with their crispness. Apple, on the other hand, barely tops 720p on the iPhone 6s, while the super-sized iPhone 6s Plus offers a better-but-still-not-amazing 1080p upgrade.

Now, 1080p is fine for most users. In fact, the OnePlus 3 caps its resolution at the same level, and it's our favourite phone in the world right now. But then the OnePlus 3 also costs half the price of an iPhone 6s. When you're shelling out US$600-plus on a phone, you expect more than 'fine'. You expect 'absolute-best-you-can-possibly-get-quality'. That's not 1080p and it's certainly not 720p.

Frankly, the once-great Retina display of the smaller iPhone models just doesn't cut it anymore. Ideally we'd get Quad HD displays on both phones, but if that's a step too far for Apple then we'll settle for 2K. And if even that is too much then at least let's get 1080p on the smaller iPhone 7 please.

3) Boost the battery

Apple iPhone 6s

Battery capacity is clearly not one of Apple's chief concerns. Case in point: the iPhone 6s actually offers a smaller battery than its predecessor. Why? Actually, it doesn't matter: there's no explanation that'll satisfy anyone whose phone keeps conking out before the evening arrives.

While it's unlikely that we'll get a phone that can handle a full day of Pokémon Go shenanigans, we need a device that can at least handle a modicum of gaming and media usage and still make it to our bedside stands intact. We'd happily take a thicker iPhone design if it meant hours more battery life, yet the rumours suggest Apple wants to go thinner. That won't work out well.

And what about fast charging, or even wireless charging? We've heard rumours about both over the years and more recently, as well, but these increasingly common Android perks remain elusive. A big shift in battery thinking would make the new iPhone significantly more appealing.

4) Dump the 16GB model

Apple iPhone 6s

Let's be honest: Apple probably isn't going to drop the price of the iPhone 7, especially with the iPhone SE now sitting on the bottom end of the price range. Instead, we're simply hoping for a bit more bang for our buck thanks to a nice storage boost.

It's partially a money thing, but it's also a matter of inconvenience. The 16GB starting model doesn't offer nearly enough space to carry a reasonable stack of apps, games, photos, and media, and without microSD support, you're just stuck micromanaging storage all the time. It's terrible. And that's why the 64GB model feels like the only real starting option at present.

Let's get an entry-level iPhone with 32GB of storage, at minimum. And let's see a top-end option that hits 256GB, rather than the current 128GB, for the local-media die-hards and avid 4K video shooters. And given that the chips aren't expensive these days, let's get all of the above without any price increases.

5) Keep the headphone port

Apple iPhone 7 render

One pervasive rumour that keeps following the iPhone 7 is that Apple plans to lose the classic 3.5mm headphone port, much as Motorola did with the Moto Z and LeEco did before that for its recent devices. Maybe it's inevitable, given the age of the hardware standard, but Apple fans aren't very excited about this prospective change.

If true, we'll all need adapters to accommodate our classic headphones – or be forced to buy new Bluetooth or Lightning-connected earbuds. Apple supposedly hopes to trim a bit more thickness from the phone's design with the move, but we imagine a lot of people are going to be upset about the move. Buck the sort-of-trend, Apple!

6) Innovate with the camera

Apple iPhone 7 render

Apple's long punched above its weight on the camera front: while all around it were packing 20MP cams into their phones, Apple steadfastly stuck to first 8MP and more recently 12MP. Despite the lack of resolution, though, iPhone cameras have always been among the best out there, producing excellent images thanks to top-notch software. Indeed, last year's Live Photos was a particular success, offering something distinctive and innovative.

We'd like to see that same spirit in play again this year, but with hardware this time around. Rumours suggest that the Plus model (or a rebranded "Pro" model) could have a dual-camera array that allows for DSLR-like photos and optical-quality digital zooming, changes which could easily make it the best smartphone camera around. 

7) Make a VR/AR move

Google Daydream concept

Samsung's Gear VR is a lot of fun, and Google's about to make a big move into mobile VR with the launch of the Android-powered Daydream platform (concept shown). Apple, meanwhile, has… well, it has the low-level Google Cardboard, and not even as many VR apps as you'll find on Android.

It's a shame. We'd love to see an Apple VR headset accommodate a power-packed new iPhone, especially one that has a Quad HD screen. With more phone-based games hitting iOS before Android (or even being iTunes exclusives) there's massive potential for VR to take off on the platform.

And what about augmented reality? Tim Cook says Apple is investing in it, especially after the smash success of Pokémon Go, and we definitely want to see what Apple's unique take is on that tech. Apple supposedly has a team working on VR, as well, but there's no clear indication on when it plans to bring any of that tech to consumers (if at all).