We're getting closer to the unveiling of the new iPhone 7, and the rumor mill is in high gear, with leaks at an all-time high.
Regular readers will know that I don't pick up and report on every iPhone-related rumor and tidbit floating around the internet. It's all too easy for someone to whip up a fake photo or claim to be a "source familiar with the company" and make some outlandish claim (remember how in the run up to WWDC 2016 "sources" were claiming iMessage was coming to Android?).
See also: iOS 10 is still a mess, but at least it's a snappy, stable mess
So, what you are going to find here is a distillation of the rumors, with an added sprinkle of a few educated guesses based on an understanding of how Apple operates and its historical patterns.
First off, here's what we know for certain -- nothing beyond when Apple plans to unveil it: Sept. 7. Beyond that, nothing. Zero. Zilch. Apple doesn't talk about product transitions until it makes them.
Well, that's a promising start, isn't it? I promise that it does get more exciting from here on in.
Right now, the favorite in terms of name for the new iPhone is the iPhone 7. This fits in well with the naming convention that Apple has been using since 2010.
To be perfectly honest with you, we don't officially know that Apple is planning to unveil a new iPhone anytime soon (consider how many predictions there have been for Mac refreshes or an iPad Air 3 over the past year or so that have amounted to nothing).
However, based on historical patterns, as well as supply chain information -- you can't make millions of new iPhones without involving a lot of different companies to manufacture the components -- there is very strong evidence to suggest that there is a new iPhone in the works. Joining the supply chain dots with the iOS 10 release scheduled for this fall, and the fact that Apple has, since the iPhone 5, been unveiling a new iPhone on the first or second Tuesday or Wednesday of September, with the iPhone shipping the second or third Friday after the unveiling.
There are suggestions -- which may be nothing more than an educated guess -- that this year's unveiling event will fall on Tuesday, Sept. 6, and that means that the iPhone 7 could be released on Friday Sept. 16 or Sept. 23. If the event is pushed to Tuesday, Sept. 13, then the iPhone 7 will likely land Friday Sept. 23 or Sept. 30.
Since Apple normally wants the bulk of the new iPhone sales to go into a single quarter -- historically that quarter being Q1 -- it would make sense for the iPhone to be released nearer the end of the month.
The end of the Q4 2016 quarter falls on Sept. 24.
Now we're getting into the meat of the rumors and leaks. After all, Apple can't magic millions of iPhones out of thin air, so it has to involve dozens of companies and countless people in the endeavor.
All the data points seem to suggest that the iPhone 7 will look pretty much like the iPhone 6s (or, for that matter, the iPhone 6). In other words, the form factor of the new iPhone will not see much material change.
There is a suggestion that Apple will introduce a Space Black iPhone, to match the finishes offered in the Apple Watch range.
Apple is also expected to redesign the antenna bands on the back of the iPhone, along with a few other small tweaks that I will cover later.
While the look of the iPhone 7 is expected to closely resemble that of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6, there will be some key changes.
These are expected to be:
If past patterns hold true, expect the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus to be powered by an A10 processor that offers twice the performance -- both computing and GPU -- of the existing A9 system-on-a-chip hardware.
Whether Apple will pull this off with a dual-core chip -- or have to bump the silicon up to a quad-core -- remains to be seen.
As far as RAM is concerned, I think a lot of this depends on the display. If Apple upgrades the displays to 1080p on the iPhone 7 and 2K on the iPhone 7 Plus, then 3GB of RAM may be needed to prevent frame drops and an overall degradation of performance.
3GB of RAM could also be useful if Apple is going to wade into virtual reality (VR) waters.
The iPhone 6s features a rubber gasket that does a good job of keeping out the elements, and the removal of the headphone jack would be another step in the right direction.
In many ways it makes sense for Apple to make the iPhone 7 waterproof -- or at least splashproof -- given how many flagship Android devices now sport this feature.
It is expected that Apple will drop the 16GB of storage option and offer 32GB as the base option. Whether the lineup will be 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB, or 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB is unknown, but more storage is something that is always on the iPhone owner's wish list (along with a bigger battery).
I expect pricing to remain the same as for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. That means the iPhone 7 will start at $649/£539/AU$1079.
It's an interesting idea, and it might help Apple bump up the average selling price of the iPhone. But what would you put into it to make it compelling and separate it from the rest of the pack? I can't think of anything that deems a whole new variant.
While there have been a few rumors that Apple has been looking into this, there's nothing to suggest that it's going to happen with the iPhone 7. The technology to make it work on a smartphone with a metal chassis is still in its infancy (hence why other devices that use wireless charging feature a glass back), so while it would be nice, Apple isn't ready to go cut the cord of the charger just yet.