When will the iPhone 7 be released? (And when will the iPhone 7 go on sale in the UK?) What new features and design changes will we get in the new iPhone for 2016? And what will Apple's next iPhone be called? Will it be iPhone 7, iPhone 7s, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7 Pro, iPhone mini, iPhone 6SE or something new? Read on for the answers to all these questions and more in our iPhone 7 release date, specs and new features rumour round-up.
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (and just possibly iPhone 7 Pro, although that sounds far less likely now) are getting closer. The web is full of speculation about new iPhone(s) that Apple will launch in 2016, and in this article we gather all the rumours about the iPhone 7: release date, design, specs and new features. Plus any leaked photos of iPhone 7 components we get hold of, and all the cool iPhone 7 concept illustrations and videos that designers have come up with.
In this article we talk about the 4.7-inch iPhone 7 (which will actually be the 14th iPhone model) - the follow-up to the iPhone 6s. If you'd like to read about the next version of the larger iPhone - the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus - take a look at our iPhone 7 Plus rumour roundup. If you're looking for information about the current iPhone range, read our iPhone 6s review, Phone 6s Plus review, iPhone 6 review, iPhone 6 Plus review and iPhone SE review; and our iPhone buyers' guide.
For more rumour-mongering and future-gazing, take a look at Apple patents and the clues they offer about the future and Apple rumours and predictions for 2016. To peer even further into the future, see iPhone 8 and beyond: The future of smartphones.
Last updated, 23 August, to discuss the (temporary) death of the iPhone 7 Pro rumour | 18 August, with yet another source backing the rumour of a 256GB iPhone 7 model | 16 August 2016, to include the latest iPhone 7 leak showcasing it in its new colour | 10 August 2016, with new rumours suggesting it will be announced on 7 September and new camera rumours | 5 August 2016, to cover the leak of what is claimed to be a testing unit of the iPhone 7 | 1 August 2016, after a Lightning-to-3.5mm adaptor was spotted in the wild, adding credence to the theory that Apple is ditching the headphone port; and the claim by a respected leaker that the iPhone 7 will go on sale on Friday 16 September.
iPhone 7 UK release date, price, specs & new features rumours: Summary
In our iPhone 7 rumour roundup we cover a lot of ground: you'd be amazed by the clues, hints and general speculation about the iPhone 7 that people have managed to dig up. But for those who don't want all the detail, the following section sums up our verdict on the whole thing:
1) Launch date: Apple will launch two new iPhones in September 2016 - a respected leaker predicts it will go on sale on Friday 16 September, where it will be unveiled on 7 September - and just possibly three, as we discuss in more detail in point 7. We expect a 4.7-inch phone (called the iPhone 7), and a 5.5-inch model (the iPhone 7 Plus). If Apple does update its 4-inch iPhone line in autumn it'll be a minor update, after the launch of the iPhone SE at a special press event in March 2016. It seems more likely to us that Apple has now settled on a twice-yearly update cycle: 4.7- and 5.5-inch iPhones in the autumn, and 4-inch iPhones in the spring.
2) Physical design: The iPhone 7 is likely to get a substantial physical redesign after the largely identical iPhone 6/6s generations. It's too early to know what direction Apple will pick, but it's likely to be thinner than ever: removing the headphone jack would be one way to help achieve this, forcing music fans to use wireless Bluetooth headphones, or headphones that connect via the Lightning port, or an adaptor. (One site, by the way, claims to have got hold of a Lightning-to-3.5mm adaptor and says it will be bundled with the iPhone 7.) The 'no headphone jack' rumour is starting to gather momentum, with multiple 'confirmations' via multiple (but anonymous) supply chain sources, and supported by leaked photos. Other design tweaks could include a flush camera and the removal of the antenna bars.
3) Battery life in the iPhone 7 may be a little better than in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, but Jony Ive's comments have made it plain that Apple doesn't consider a higher battery life to be worth significant sacrifices in other areas (we suspect that, if they're honest, most smartphone buyers would agree) and Apple's larger-screen iPhones have decent batteries already. You can always buy the lovely new battery pack case...
4) Higher screen resolution is a possibility - Apple undermined its own 'Retina is as sharp as your eyes can see' myth with the iPhone 6 Plus, and the company is playing catchup against many of its rivals in terms of screen resolution. Apple may well take the higher pixel density that was exclusive to the iPhone 6 Plus and 6s Plus (401 pixels per inch, as compared to 326ppi for all non-Plus iPhones), and apply it to all the models in the next generation; it could even raise the pixel density further than this, although we fear that this is unlikely. And a harder screen material would play well, whether Apple manages to resurrect the sapphire situation or goes with Corning's new Project Phire.
5) 16GB will surely be phased out as the lowest storage offering. It's nowhere near enough in this day and age. We hope and expect the iPhone 7 to start at 32GB. It's heavily rumoured that there will be a 256GB option, so the three tiers could be 32GB, 128GB and 256GB.
6) The iPhone 7 could get a USB-C port, like the new 12-inch MacBook, but we think this is unlikely. The change from 30-pin to Lightning is recent enough (and was painful enough for many users) that to switch again now would be highly controversial.
7) iPhone 7 Pro: Along with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, KGI Securities' Ming-Chi Kuo claims (via a note obtained by MacRumours) that there will be a third (even more) premium option available, based on the already huge iPhone 7 Plus, which is leading some to call it the iPhone 7 Pro. Apparently that iPhone 7 Pro will have an amazing dual-camera system developed by LinX (which Apple now owns). Apple apparently can't produce enough LinX camera modules for both the 7 and 7 Plus, so creating a third option allows the company to still bring the technology to market. While this is only a rumour and there are no leaked images supporting the claim, Ming-Chi Kuo has something of an impeccable track record when leaking the latest Apple news.
Update 19 August: This rumour now seems to be all but dead in the water. It has been widely reported that the iPhone 7 Pro was considered in concept but has been postponed indefinitely, and the names 'iPhone 7' and 'iPhone 7 Plus' are all but confirmed.
8) And as for the other out-there rumours? 3D screen: no. Curved display: potentially. Flexible display: nope. Edge-to-edge screen: quite possibly. Spring-out gaming joystick in the Home button: definitely not. Wireless charging: quite possibly. Better waterproofing: a reasonable bet, although the self-healing ports aren't likely to appear for a while yet.
iPhone 7 UK release date, price, specs & new features rumours: Podcast - what to expect from iPhone 7
The UK Tech Weekly Podcast team discuss the prospects for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus - as well as the Samsung Galaxy S8, and the nature of smartphone leaks and the rumour mill in general - in episode 20. The section about the iPhone 7 and other future smartphones starts at 22:00.
There's a new episode of the UK Tech Podcast every Friday. Follow them on Twitter to hear whenever a new episode is available.
iPhone 7 UK release date, price, specs & new features rumours: Release date
If Apple sticks to its traditions, we can expect the iPhone 7 to arrive in September 2016.
The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus were unveiled on 9 September 2015 (and released to the public on 25 September), iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were unveiled on 9 September 2014 (released on 19 September); the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s were unveiled on 10 September 2013; the iPhone 5 was unveiled on 12 September. There's a pattern there that the eagle-eyed reader may be able to spot.
Our money is on the 6th, 7th, 13th or 14th of September 2016, since it's usually a Tuesday or a Wednesday. Clear your diary.
That's our theory. But a usually reliable leaker named Evan Blass has stuck his neck out and made a more specific prediction. Blass tweeted that the iPhone 7 will go on sale on Friday 16 September.
If Blass is right, the launch event, where the iPhone 7 is unveiled to the world, will take place the week before, probably on the 6th or 7th of September.
For the past year or so a recurrent and fairly plausible rumour held that there would be not two but three new iPhones launched in September 2016: the iPhone 7, the iPhone 7 Plus and a new brand, the iPhone 7 Pro.
This rumour now seems to be all but dead in the water. It has been widely reported that the iPhone 7 Pro was considered in concept but has been postponed indefinitely. Japanese site Mac Otakara ran a story claiming the names 'iPhone 7' and 'iPhone 7 Plus' are all but confirmed. We think this means Apple has opted to retain the normal number cycle this time around while most likely giving the Plus model iPhone the better, dual-lens camera.
MacRumors has an interesting take on this development. The site reasons that Apple originally planned the Pro brand as a kind of safety net for use if it couldn't manufacture dual-lens cameras in sufficient numbers to meet anticipated demand. If this happened, the 7 Plus would be a plus-sized version of the iPhone 7, with a single-lens camera, while the Pro would sell in smaller numbers and include the double lens. Apple now appears confident in its supply chain's capacity to produce twin-lens models at scale, so the Pro brand (which would, let's face it, have been hugely confusing for consumers) has been shelved.
It has now emerged that Apple has been planning three iPhone launches - but not for 2016. Next year we will see three iPhone 8 models, and one of which could have a screen that is curved at the edges in common with Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 and Galaxy S7 edge. This would have to be an OLED display, since LCD cannot typically curve. A report on TheNextWeb suggests Samsung will provide these panels, but that Foxconn is ramping up production of OLED screens in order to remain competitive. For more details see our iPhone 8 rumour round-up.
iPhone 7 release date: Alternative theories
While we are 99% certain that September will see the launch of the iPhone 7, there have been a few rumours that suggest otherwise. Take these with a pinch of sale, though. AppleInsider is quoting a "reliable source" who predicts that 2016's iPhone 7 in the summer of 2016 instead of in September.
The site states that this particular source "has, in the past, provided accurate information about Apple's future product plans", but while this may be true, it must be pointed out that plenty of other sources have made this exact prediction about previous iPhone launches and they've always been wrong.
Apple has significantly shifted its iPhone launch cycle only once: the first four iPhones all launched in summer, then Apple pushed the iPhone 4s back to the autumn, and then every iPhone since then has stuck to that launch cycle. (The iPhone 4s came along in October, admittedly, rather than the September launch date that Apple has followed ever since the iPhone 5.)
If Apple changed the cycle once, it can certainly change it again. But it won't do so lightly: an unexpectedly early upgrade is always infuriating for those who've just bought the previous generation model, and it creates the suspicion that the company might pull a similar trick the following year, leading to a customer base that is more cautious about upgrading. What's more, Apple's natural cycle of announcements sees iOS and OS X upgrades announced at WWDC in June, leaving enough time for the software to be completed in time for the autumn hardware launches. It seems like a risk for Apple to announce everything in the summer and leave its customers hungry for new releases for the rest of the year.
And the reasoning for why Apple would push forward the iPhone 7 launch date is thin.
"This year's iPhone 6s upgrade features largely the same external design as the iPhone 6," argues AppleInsider. "That has prompted concerns among investors that demand for the iPhone 6s could wane, particularly toward the tail end of the product cycle… Launching the iPhone 7 in an earlier window of 2016 would be one way for Apple to address those concerns."
The thing is, every S-class iPhone upgrade has been accused of offering only minor upgrades on the previous generation, yet they all still sell well. And if anything the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus represent more significant upgrades than the iPhone 4s and iPhone 5s did: Live Photos is fun, 3D Touch has the potential to alter the way we think about smartphone interfaces, and the processor and cameras are much improved. Even Touch ID is noticeably quicker.
So while this isn't out of the question, we can't see that any convincing reason has been given why Apple should shift its update schedule next year.
iPhone 7 release date: No iPhone 7 this year - just another iPhone 6 variant
However, the most recent reports suggest something even more far-fetched - Apple is to do away with its traditional tick-tock style of iPhone releases, where it releases a significantly refreshed iPhone then upgrades the internals with a largely unchanged outer shell the following year. It's claimed that Apple won't be releasing the iPhone 7 this year, and it'll instead be releasing another iPhone 6-esque variant with a similar upgrade to the iPhone 6s.
The report from the Wall Street Journal claims that the 2016 iPhone (which won't be called the iPhone 7 apparently) will feature the same basic design of the iPhone 6, with the biggest external change being the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack, with the Lightning port said to be used in its place. VentureBeat also received the same tip with a few additional details, claiming that the new three-year iPhone upgrade cycle will become the default for Apple going forward, and also claiming that Apple is saving the iPhone 7 name for next year's iPhone, which will coincide with the 10th anniversary of the iPhone.
Read on for iPhone 7 design rumours on page 2.