Apple’s iPhone 7 announcement: what to expect
It should be an interesting launch. This is technically a generational leap for the iPhone, but it sounds like Apple has taken a different approach this year, with subtler physical changes to the phone. This'll also be the first time Apple has updated the Apple Watch, so we can’t depend on history to tell us what kind of changes to expect.
As always, The Verge will be in San Francisco to cover the event live. You should check back here on the 7th for our live blog and nonstop coverage. But for the time being, read on below for all the nitty-gritty details on what we're expecting to see.
iPhone 6 stock
It's a new iPhone with a new number. That usually comes alongside a brand-new design, but this year it seems more like Apple is going to tweak its existing formula — improving things here and there and maybe laying the foundation for some bigger changes down the road. Here's the deal:
A new(ish) design: Hopefully you like the iPhone 6, because the iPhone 7 is supposed to look pretty much the same. The big difference is that it's expected to have a cleaner look, with some (but not all) of those unsightly antenna lines disappearing off the back. It's a small change, but this mockup at MacRumors suggests it could have a strong effect.
No headphone jack: This obviously isn't a new feature. In fact, it's the very opposite of a new feature. But it's turning out to be The Big Story of the iPhone 7. Apple is expected to remove the headphone jack — a standby of consumer electronics since the invention of consumer electronics — from the next iPhone, meaning all headphones will have to be wireless or connect through the Lightning port. There are certainly upsides to Lightning headphones, but there are a whole lot of downsides, too. If you have a lot of devices that work with a 3.5mm headphone jack (and who doesn’t?), you're going to have an annoying tradeoff to consider.
Possibly new Pods: Without a headphone jack, Apple will probably want to offer another way to listen to music. Rumors have been really sketchy on this front, so take this all with a grain of salt, but they point to two possibilities: the Apple will make new EarPods that terminate in a Lightning connector instead of a headphone jack, or that Apple will make wireless earbuds, supposedly called AirPods.
Another camera: It’s not for selfies. Apple is expected to add a second camera onto the back of the iPhone, which it could use to produce higher-quality photos or offer a zoomed-in view. For example, Huawei’s P9 uses a second black-and-white camera for added sharpness and detail, while LG’s G5 uses a second camera to offer a zoomed-out perspective. Bloomberg says Apple will have a twist on the latter approach, with the second camera offering a zoomed-in view.
he second camera is only supposed to show up on the larger iPhone model (the 7 Plus). But the smaller model will probably get some camera updates of its own, like image stabilization, which has been exclusive to the Plus model for the past two years.
Goodbye 16GB: I don't know that there's a new feature more deserving of a "finally!" than this. Apple is finally expected to stop putting 16GB of storage in its entry-level iPhones and instead bump them up to 32GB, according to The Wall Street Journal. That's a much more reasonable amount of space for 2016.
A clickless home button: Apple is expected to make a very subtle but very big change to the home button — it won't click in. That's according to 9to5Mac, which says the new button will be pressure-sensitive and use haptic feedback to make it feel like you're pushing it in, even though it won't physically move. It’s a trick Apple has already pulled off on some of its MacBooks.
A blacker black: If there's one good reason to buy the iPhone 7, it may be this. After years of dealing with whatever that "space gray" nonsense is, some vague rumors have suggested that Apple is going to make a black phone again. Not totally, 100 percent, wonderful iPhone 5 black. But more like what the Apple Watch Sport uses.
Everything else: You know the drill. The new iPhones will of course be faster, with new processors, maybe more RAM, and something that gets described as "magical." The removal of the headphone jack has people suggesting that the iPhone 7 could be more water resistant, though it's not clear if the phone will actually be waterproof. The phone will probably get a little bit thinner, too.
Everything not: As always, there are a bunch of other sketchy rumors that pop up but seem like they probably aren't bound to come true. This year, that includes the iPhone 7 having a dual SIM tray, a blue color option, wireless charging, or a smart connector. It's possible Apple is looking into these things, but there hasn't been a lot of evidence suggesting they're happening this year.
When the keynote kicks off, it'll be almost two years to the day since Apple first unveiled the Apple Watch (though it was another eight months before it hit stores). A lot has changed about the Apple Watch in the time since — all through software — and this first hardware update is likely to reflect those changes. Namely, Apple taking a step away from the Watch as a communication device and a step toward its use as a fitness device. Here's what we're expecting:
Square as ever: There's no sign that Apple plans to significantly change up the Apple Watch's design this year. Or even next year. That said, don't be surprised if some new band options show up.
GPS: This is probably going to be the biggest new feature on the Apple Watch. And while it may not sound like much, the addition of GPS should be a real help for runners, since it'll let the Watch track them even when they leave their phone behind. Anything that makes the Watch more independent is an important step forward.
Getting faster: Normally a speed bump wouldn't be all that exciting — pretty much without fail, every new Apple product comes with a marginally faster processor than its predecessor. But that's particularly important here, since the first-generation Watch is pretty darn slow. Apple needs to do better on speed, and the updated Watch should be a start.
Everything else: Other rumors have suggested that the next Watch will have better waterproofing, a bigger battery, a barometer, and the ability to do more things over Wi-Fi — but evidence for some of those is shakier than others. One other big question is whether the Watch will have a camera. An early report from 9to5Mac last year said Apple was heading in that direction, but that's just about the last we heard of of it. Given Apple's shift away from messaging, it wouldn't be surprising if this feature got scrapped.