The holiday shopping season has kicked into high gear and so has the rumor mill surrounding what next for Apple Inc.'s smartphone -- the anticipated "iPhone 7."
Apple hasn’t said a peep about the next-gen iPhone. But the company relies on a global network of suppliers, and the supply chain has offered up some of its secrets. Here’s a closer look at some of the features that may or may not make it into Apple’s next iPhone.
In Apple’s quest for thinner smartphones, the iPhone 7 could be even thinner, suggests a research note from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The note indicates that Apple may try to build the handset 6.5 mm thick -- about the thickness of the iPod Touch. In comparison Apple’s iPhone 6S comes in at 7.1 mm and the 6S Plus comes in at 7.3 mm thickness.
Six-Core A10 Processor
Apple’s next iPhone chip could come with up to six cores , up from the dual-core chips found in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. In theory, more cores allow a computer to process more data and commands simultaneously. But in practice there are a number of factors that can also have an effect as well, such as software optimizations and the need to balance battery life and performance on mobile devices.
The “7 Plus” version of Apple’s next iPhone could pack as much as 3 gigabytes of RAM, according to a note released by Kuo in November, according to AppleInsider. The smaller model is expected to retain 2GB of RAM -- the amount of memory in the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. What isn’t known is whether or not Apple will also increase the base storage available on the iPhone from 16 gigabytes.
No Headphone Jack
As Apple tries to make its phones even thinner, it may ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack in the process, according to Macotakara. What could replace the port is a move to headsets which use the Lightning port found on current iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches. While the idea sounds out of left field, Apple isn’t exactly known for being sentimental with older standards -- over time it abandoned FireWire and built-in optical drives. Its latest MacBook ditched older USB ports in favor of one compact USB type-C connector.
Another area Apple is rumored to be exploring is wireless charging. One way it might add this to a future iPhone is using the coil of a built-in speaker or vibration motor to play double duty as a wireless charger as well, according to a patent application published in October. Another option for Apple is technology released by Qualcomm, which can enable wireless charging through metal smartphone bodies.
The iPhone 7 may be able to survive a trip into the drink. According to Japanese blog Mac Otakara, Apple is looking to build a smartphone that is dust- and water-resistant. Officially, Apple doesn’t say that any of its devices are waterproof. But a few tests have shown that iPhone 6S can survive an accidental trip into the water in some cases. Teardowns by repair website iFixit also revealed that Apple added additional gaskets to protect the edge where the case and display of the 6S meet. Another patent application from Apple also proposes using built-in speakers to help remove moisture from its ports.
Apple may be testing up to five prototypes with unique features, according to GforGames. Some of test models include technologies like the USB type-C connector, wireless charging, dual cameras, multitouch pressure sensitive display and a fingerprint reader built into the display.
Despite all the secrecy behind the iPhone’s development, its general release window is probably tech’s worst kept secret. If Apple follows the trend of previous years, shoppers should look towards a release sometime in the second half of 2016. But in the mean time rumors also point to the launch of an "iPhone 6C" in early 2016, which would add a new 4-inch smartphone to its device lineup.