For the most profitable company in the world, 50% of Apple’s revenue comes from one device: the iPhone. As a company of habit, the iPhone 4 - 4s - 5 - 5s - 6 - 6s pattern will probably continue next September and bring with it the iPhone 7.
Typically, Apple releases design changes in the number-change years, and internal updates with “s” years (with the exception of Apple Pay in the iPhone 6). So if a new external design is coming, what might that bring? Here are a few of my personal predictions:
Change to the Home Button
Since the original iPhone, the round Home Button has remained largely unchanged. Yes, Touch ID was added with the iPhone 5s, but the function and push mechanism has remained fairly similar.
As mentioned in the latest episode of Cortex, Apple hates moving parts. Aside from the Sleep and Volume buttons on the sides of every iPhone, the Home button is the last, large moving (external) part.
With Force Touch on every new MacBook, Apple has successfully eliminated one of the largest “moving part” on its laptops. Yes, the Haptic Engine vibrates to create a sense of movement, but try to press down with a MacBook powered off and you’ll feel nothing move.
Could Apple incorporate Force Touch into the Home Button of a new iPhone? I am no engineer, so the physical possibility of this escapes me, but if Apple continues its war on ports (see the new MacBook) and moving parts (see the new Apple Pencil), we could see an immovable, Haptic-powered Home Button soon enough.
Say Goodbye to the Headphone Jack
Rumors have been swirling about Apple completely removing the headphone jack on its iPhone. This may sound absurd, but remember all the other things Apple was the first to kill: 3.5" floppy drives, built-in FireWire, Ethernet ports on the MacBook, optical drives, and the list goes on.
Take into consideration the points Apple continually brags about in every iPhone keynote: it’s thinner, lighter, and faster. The first two will become impossible if the headphone jack remains (just look at the bottom of any iPhone 6).
So assuming the headphone jack goes away, what will Apple include with every new iPhone instead of the current earbuds? Possibly a Lightning connector pair of headphones, which do currently exist, or possibly even Bluetooth headphones (which may not be cost-effective yet).
Meanwhile, that space on the bottom of the new iPhone could be used for a second speaker, bringing stereo sound to the device, or it could leave room for more battery (one can only hope).
The Apple Watch can charge “wirelessly,” why not the iPhone? Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that.
Every wireless charging solution, even the built-in capabilities on the newer Samsung phones, is incredibly slow. The Apple Watch gets away with the slow charging because it has a tiny battery. Charging an iPhone with a similar magnetic-type connection would significantly increase the required time for a full charge.
That’s not to say this is impossible, but I don’t believe the Lightning port is going away anytime soon.
In addition to the headphone jack rumors, some say the next iteration of iPhone will include a four inch, lower-tier model. Similar to the 5s and 5c, we could see a 7 and 7c. This is a remote possibility, and I doubt Apple will add a larger screen past the 6s Plus.
Any rumor and conjecture you hear on the internet now has a slim chance of becoming reality. Typically the supply chain leaks and information gleamed the weeks before an event, i.e. August, are more accurate.
That being said, I’m not particularly excited about any one of these possible changes. Rather than design and hardware modifications, true advances I would like to see are: better battery technology, even better camera, and removing the camera bulge from the 6 models.
We are over 9 months out from seeing the next iteration Apple has in store, but if you’re in need of a new phone, don’t hesitate to grab the 6s or 6s Plus. As a Plus user, I’m fairly satisfied. Aside from the occaisonal software or app glitch, the current iPhone is solid.