Apple iPhone 7 set to be a disappointment as company holds back for iPhone 8
Apple is going to hold back its major iPhone innovations, saving them for release in 2017, the iPhone's tenth birthday, according to a reliable analyst.
The next iteration of Apple's flagship product, the iPhone 7, will not have "many attractive selling points", according to Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst at KGI Securities who has been called the "best Apple analyst on the planet".
Kuo said that the iPhone 7 will look very similar to the iPhone 6 and 6S. The main innovations will probably be wireless charging, a better camera, longer battery life and the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Kuo predicts the scaled-up Plus version will have an even better camera, and Apple could release a third "Pro" model called the iPhone 7 DC, which will feature a dual-lens camera and a magnetic smart connector. The iPhone 7 is due to be unveiled in September.
But these tweaks won't be dramatic enough, according to Kuo, and iPhone sales will drop to between 190 and 205 million in 2016. The Cupertino giant shipped 232 million phones in 2015.
Read more: Two iPhone 7 Plus models rumoured
The predictions come as Apple prepares to report its first drop in iPhone sales in its first quarter of 2016 results this evening. Analysts project that the company will have sold just 50 million iPhones in the quarter, marking an 18 per cent fall from the same time last year in spite of the launch of the new iPhone SE.
Kuo said the declining sales could make Apple the only smartphone company to experience a decline in sales this year. But the news isn't all bad for Apple: Kuo raised his estimates for iPhone SE shipments from 12 million to 18 million handsets.
But Kuo said the iPhone "needs a makeover" if it is going to continue attracting customers. The iPhone is expected to have a new body, but its other new features could be limited, said Kuo.
No more headphone jack?
The decision to remove the headphone jack would prove a controversial one. The company would presumably include new wireless headphones with the new handset, or a pair of headphones which connect to the phone through a lightning connector. Given Apple's ownership of Beats, this shouldn't prove too much of a problem.
Third parties have been able to create lightning connector headphones since June 2014 when Apple extended its Made-for-iPhone licensing programme.
iPhone 8 predictions
Kuo expects that Apple will change its naming convention and release an overhauled iPhone 8 in 2017.
The iPhone 8 will mark the tenth birthday of the device, and will be made entirely from glass, rather than the aluminium of the latest handsets. It will also have an OLED display and a thick aluminium band around the body.
Kuo was the first analyst to predict that Apple would make the iPhone 6 with a 5.5-inch screen, and accurately revealed details about the iPhone 6S, the iPad Pro, iPhone SE, and 9.7-inch iPad Pro.