Saturday 21 April 2018

iPhone 7: Pictures emerge ahead of Apple launch

Antonio De Rosa design
Antonio De Rosa design

Designer Antonio De Rosa has produced a concept design of the iPhone 7 and it carries carries some features of the Apple Watch. Of course, we will have to wait until September to see what design Apple goes with.

When will it be launched?

New iPhone launches have settled into a regular schedule which sees new models each September. For several years we have seen a major update every other year, with more incremental improvements carrying s or c monikers. For instance, in September 2012 we got an all-new iPhone 5, followed by the updated iPhone 5s and 5c in September 2013.

The new handset is likely to be launched during a keynote speech by Apple chief executive Tim Cook, with additional speeches from senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller and senior vice president of internet software and services Eddy Cue, who helped to showcase the 6 and 6 Plus last year.

The new model will run iOS 9, the newest version of Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch software which was announced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in early June.

Updates and features include Siri becoming more proactive in recognising your behaviour, longer battery life and improvements to existing apps including Maps and Notes. The new News app aims to provide an experience akin to reading a magazine, with big glossy visuals.

Antonio De Rosa design
Antonio De Rosa design

What will it be called?

Good question. Going by the above pattern, and assuming that Apple keeps a small (4.7-inch) and large (5.5-inch) version, designating the latter 'Plus', we'll have the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

However, there are also rumours that we will get a third phone this year - an iPhone 6c. Earlier in May Apple appeared to leak a picture of what could be the iPhone 6c on its site - what looked like an updated iPhone 5c with an Touch ID sensor on its home button. However, it's more likely this was a poorly-rendered picture of an original 5c, and the image has since been removed from the site.

Despite all this, Apple could choose to buck its own naming convention and go straight in with the iPhone 7. We'll just have to wait to find out.

Antonio De Rosa design
Antonio De Rosa design

When will it go on sale?

The iPhone 6s' sale date has been given away in a leaked internal email from Vodafone. The email reveals the newest handset will go on sale on September 25, with pre-orders being accepted from September 18. The memo, seen by Mobile News, does not clarify the exact name of the model, called simply 'the new iPhone'.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple has asked its suppliers to produce a record number of new models - between 85 million and 90 million compared to last year's 70-80 million, suggesting strong faith the new generation of iPhones will outsell its predecessors.

One thing we can expect is to see the return of the queues snaking around Apple stores across the globe. For the launch of the Apple Watch, Apple decided on a soft 'online-only' launch, meaning the April 24 date effectively only meant some models started shipping that day and were not available to buy in the shops. Retail chief Angela Ahrendts told staff in a memo seen by the Telegraph that not every new Apple product would be launched in this manner. "We all love those blockbuster Apple product launch days - and there will be many more to come," she said.

So regardless of when the new phone goes on sale, we're likely to see the same old faces at the head of the queues.

What new features can we expect?

The Taptic Engine and Force Touch from the new MacBook and Apple Watch are rumoured to be making an appearance on the new iPhone, giving users new ways of interacting with their handset. Force Touch detects how hard the user is pressing and allows different actions to be carried out accordingly. Press the fast-forward button in a video player, and you can vary the speed at which it skips by pressing lighter or harder, for instance.

In late June it was reported that initial production had started on two 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones, both equipped with Force Touch technology.

The next version of the iPhone will see the “biggest camera jump ever”, offering quality to rival a DSLR, according to blogger John Gruber. He reported in November that the new device would include a "weird two-lens system where the back camera uses two lenses and it somehow takes it up into DSLR quality imagery.” What exactly the “two lens” system refers to is unclear, and is likely to remain so until the launch. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities claims the next camera will receive a welcome bump up to 12MP, with the front camera capable of recording 1080p video at 60fps, 240fps in slow motion mode and flash support.

According to research from Barclays, the 6s will sport a new near-field communication (NFC) NXP 66VP2 chip, up from the 65V10 used in the 6 and 6 Plus. Another new STMicro chip is also likely for inclusion, which could be used for any function requiring data security, including soft SIM, health or biometric data, secure multimedia streaming, Enterprise authentication, or Automotive.

Sapphire glass - a scratch resistant material used in screens - is another likely feature. It was widely slated for an appearance on the iPhone 6 but manufacturing problems reportedly got in the way.

There could also be a new processor - the A9 - produced by Samsung. It will be smaller, faster and use less power, just as you'd expect from a new chip. The current A8 series use a 20nm process and the new ones would use 14nm. RAM is also likely to be upgraded to 2GB from the current 1GB.

One unusual update could be a safety feature that uses the vibrating motor, "air foils" or ejecting batteries to spin the handset in mid-air if it's dropped and ensure that it always lands screen-up. The company claims that this will reduce the chance of cracked displays, and has been granted a patent on the idea.

Another rumour that has persisted for some time is the idea of Apple doing away with the home button altogether, to create a more streamlined device with a larger display. To do so, however, the company would have to find a way of integrating its Touch ID technology into the entire display, rather than just within the home button's sensor.

Apple has filed numerous patents around this, including one which would allow the phone's display to identify multiple fingerprints at once. It's pretty unlikely we'll see this development in iPhones for a couple of years, however.

Another feature that may take a few years to make it into final models is Apple replacing the iPhone's current LED-backlit Multi-Touch display with a new organic light-omitting diode (OLED) screen - also used in the Apple Watch. It effectively means we could see flexible-screened iPhones by 2018 as suppliers are already working towards production of the new displays, according to reports.

We've known that Apple has been interested in bendy devices for a while now - several patents have been granted in recent years.

Read more Apple iPhone counterfeiting operation busted by police  

What will it look like?

Images of what is claimed to be the iPhone 6s were leaked to 9to5Mac in early July, showing internal and external views of silver metal casing, which looks very similar to the anodised aluminium used in the iPhone 6. However, in reality this could be the Series 7000 aluminium alloy used for the Apple Watch Sport - a new strengthened composite.

The casing appears to be the same width as the 6, suggesting Apple is indeed planning to keep to the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch dimension precedent.

However, schematics leaked by a source with a Chinese supply line to Engadget Japan suggests the iPhone 6s will be 0.2mm thicker than its predecessor at 7.1mm, a potential concession to Force Touch given the capactive glass surface and the internal taptic engine used within the recently-released 12-inch MacBook and refreshed 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Internally the frame sports newly-located mounting points to support a new logic board. The speaker holes, headphone jack, microphone and lightning charging ports remain in the same places.

Kuo again claims the iPhone 6s will come in a new rose gold hue, and that Apple is planning to stick to the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch size conventions established by the 6 and 6 Plus, scotching previous rumours a 4-inch version was in development.

Chief executive Tim Cook has said that the company takes Chinese consumer tastes into account when it designs many of its products, and considers details including colour palettes to suit local tastes. The decision to offer a gold iPhone in 2013 reflects in part the popularity of that color among Chinese users, he added.

It's unknown whether the new model would be rose gold-coloured anodised aluminium, like the current iPhone 6 and 6 Plus' gold option, or actual 18-carat rose gold like the luxury Edition Apple Watch, which is priced from £8,000.

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