Far from offering a smartphone ‘powerhouse’ in a smaller package, the rumoured iPhone 7 Mini will be a sales tool used to push the larger iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models, according to Forbes.
Tech writer Evan Spence says that the “dream” of high-performance in a four-inch phone is unlikely to materialise, and “any smaller iPhone is going to be weak by design, and used to up-sell you to the larger models.”
Rumours have been mounting that Apple is preparing a smaller phone to sit alongside its larger handsets when the iPhone 7 is released next year.
Named variously the iPhone 7C, iPhone 6CS and the iPhone 7 Mini, the new device is presumed to offer similar functionality to its larger cousins, including a Touch ID fingerprint scanner and a pressure-sensitive Force Touch screen but in a smaller chassis.
However, Spence says that rather than matching the larger models, the iPhone 7 Mini will most likely be less powerful than the two larger phones.
“The signs are that Apple’s iPhone 7 range of handsets, while covering three distinct screen sizes, will continue to offer poorer performance across the lower dimensions.”
According to Spence, the smaller phone will naturally have a lesser battery capacity given that it is a smaller phone, but it is also likely to have a lower screen resolution, just as the Apple chose to reduce the pixel count on its iPhone 6S as compared with the iPhone 6S Plus.
“Apple loves the idea of ‘triples’ in its portfolio. Traditionally providing a ‘good/better/best’ for new devices,” he adds.
“Currently Apple’s regular smartphone line-up is the iPhone 5S, the iPhone 6, and the iPhone 6S which is clearly covering good/better/best The 6S has three [storage] choices with 16GB, 64GB or 128GB on offer.”
Even though an iPhone 7 Mini would “replace the ageing iPhone 5S design, and offer Apple another triple of good/better/best in terms of product lines” the decision to make the four-inch model its lowest spec phone will mean that the new handset is likely to be “a bit rubbish,” Spence concludes.
iPhone 7: is Apple planning to release an ‘iPhone 7 Mini’?
After the release of four larger iPhone models in 2014 and 2015, Apple is rumoured to be working on a smaller “budget” handset for next year.
The iPhone 6 and 6S both have 4.7-inche screens, while the iPhone 6 Plus and 6S Plus are 5.5 inches, much larger than the first generation iPhone, which was just 3.5 inches.
But according to KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple plans to launch a 4-inch model, the same size as the iPhone 5S, in 2016, as there is still demand for a small-sized iPhone.
Gadgets360 says Ming-Chi Kuo, who has an “accurate track record for leaks”, believes Apple will market the handset as a cheaper alternative to the standard iPhone 7.
“The handset is expected to enter mass production in the first half of 2016, and launch alongside next year’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus line-up,” says the site.
“As for the specifications, the handset will have full metal casing unlike the iPhone 5C and will be powered by A9 SoC [processor], the same chipset that this year’s iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus ship with.”
It might not, however, have 3D Touch, a feature on the iPhone 6S that senses how much pressure you apply to the display, says Gadgets360.
“Kuo has a strong track record that makes him particularly convincing,” says The Verge. In the past he has correctly predicted the launch of the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones, as well both sizes of the Apple Watch, the new 12-inch MacBook, and absolutely everything about the iPhone 6S. But, “he’s not always right at the right time” they claim “he didn’t think the 5.5-inch iPhone would arrive until later in 2015”.
When it comes to the iPhone 7, Kuo’s predictions are quite safe and not particularly stirring. According to Mac Rumors, he foresees an upgraded A10 chip for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, with the Plus model getting 3GB of RAM instead of 2GB to differentiate it as the top-end device. “If Apple does launch a total of three devices next year” contends The Verge, “the iPhone lineup will look oddly similar to Sony’s Xperia trio, although even Sony thinks a 4-inch smartphone is too small for today’s market”.
But the idea of an iPhone Mini has gone down well with some critics. “While the product strategy would be similar to the cheaper iPhone 5c model that Apple introduced in 2013,” says ZDNet’s Kevin Tofel, “there’s one key difference: the iPhone 5c was the same size as the then-new iPhone 5s.”
“A 4-inch iPhone in 2016, however,” Tofel adds, “would cater to those who want the iOS experience but don’t want it on a handset with a 4.7 or 5.5-inch screen.”
Rumours circulated of a smaller iPhone 6S ahead of Apple’s September 2015 launch, but it never emerged.
Macworld predicted last month that Apple will release a 4.7-inch (called the iPhone 7) and a 5.5-inch model (the iPhone 7 Plus) next year. “If Apple does make another 4-inch iPhone (which, thanks to the success of the larger iPhones, is by no means a certainty),” it said, “then we think it’ll be called something like the iPhone 7 mini.”
iPhone 7: will Apple’s new iPhone be ‘thinner than a headphone plug’?
When the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models were released, they were criticised by reviewers for their fragility, which some users said made them prone to bending. Still, the early furore around their weakness, which became known as ‘bendgate’, didn’t diminish demand for the devices which went on to become Apple’s top-selling handsets of all time.
Some are now speculating that the iPhone 7 could become even thinner still so thin in fact that it may no longer be able to accept a conventional headphone plug.
According toPocketLint”a patent for a new slimmer, D-shaped headphone plug was apparently filed by Apple, which could help with allowing for a slimmer design given a smartphone can only be as slim as its largest component.”
The site goes on to speculate that alternatively Apple could simply do away with its headphone jack altogether and pair exclusively with wireless headphones “after all, [Apple] had no problem getting rid of other ports for the new MacBook.”
This is not the first time that tech analysts have speculated that the iPhone 7 could become the thinnest model ever.
In September, 9to5Mac predicted that the 2016 model would “approach iPod Touch levels of thinness”, with a body between 6 and 6.5mm thick. This would shave between 4 and 9mm from the current generation iPhone 6S.
Cult of Mac agrees with the prediction, noting that KGI Securities Ming-Chi Kuo who is, the site says, “the best Apple analyst on the planet” has released a new report suggesting that the iPhone 7 will be no thicker than 6.5mm.
Over the past few years Apple has consistently tried to make every new device thinner than the last, the Daily Telegraph notes, but “some have worried this comes at the expense of durability.”
To bring thickness down, the company has been forced to introduce new materials, the paper says. “Recent testing of what is claimed to be the anodised aluminium shell of the iPhone 6S by Unbox Therapy found the new body could withstand more thantwice the amount of pressurethan the iPhone 6, eventually bucking under 80 pounds.”
However, the latest news leads Cult of Mac to ask “is it possible for the iPhone to get too thin?”
iPhone 7: should you skip the iPhone 6S and wait for the 2016 handset?
The new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus models may have only recently reached the hands of customers, but already rumours about next year’s iPhone 7 are beginning to circulate.
According toKnowYourMobile.com, Apple has “big plans” for the iPhone 7. So what will the next device be like?
No home button
Designer Hasan Kaymak put together a concept video for the iPhone 7 which features a number of tantalising ideas, including the notion that Apple might do away with the home button completely on its forthcoming model. This makes room for a completely edge-to-edge display, meaning that the phone will have no wasted space on its front face.
Several sites, includingApple Insider, note that the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus have significantly greater water resistance than their predecessors, including a 0.3mm wider ‘lip’ around the frame and a silicone seal around the logic boards. Some tech experts believe that the changes may foreshadow a completely waterproof iPhone 7 in 2016.
Apple is behind the curve on this one, as Samsung, Sony and LG have already released phones that charge without needing to be plugged in, but patent applications published yesterday by the US Patent and Trademark Office indicate that the California-based technology company may finally be preparing to incorporate wireless charging into its next generation phones.
Previously, Apple phones haven’t been able to recharge without being plugged in because, until recently, wireless charging devices couldn’t power batteries through the iPhone’s aluminium case.
Wireless-charging handsets from other companies have tended to be made of plastic so that power can reach their batteries.
But in July this year, Qualcomm unveiled a new wireless charger that works through metals,International Business Timesreports, paving the way for Apple to be able to utilise the technology.
Apple’s patent for ‘Inductive Power Transfer Using Acoustic or Haptic Devices’ appears to use a new metal coil which has a double function – in one mode the coil produces sound for the iPhone’s speakers, and in another it can charge the phone wirelessly.
On 29 September, Apple filed a patent application with the US Patent and Trademark Office for what it calls “sidewall displays”, International Business Times reports.
The image accompanying the patent shows a phone with a screen that stretches all the way around the device.
Apple says that the reason for the patent is that many mobile devices on the market have come to feature a very similar design which makes no use of their side or rear surfaces.
“A large majority of portable electronic devices have settled into a standard form factor,” Apple says in its patent, “namely a flat planar form factor with a display on one side and an opaque housing that contains the electrical components covering the rear surface of the device.
“Unfortunately, this popular form factor leaves the sides and rear surfaces of the device unused or at best configured with buttons and switches with fixed location and functionality.”
The patent says that there is “a need for an improved form factor for portable electronic devices which allows functionality to extend to more than one surface of the device.”
So perhaps the companyispaving the way for a new wraparound display.
According to a report by VentureBeat, the next generation of Apple iPhones could be powered by an Intel chip. The report claims that the chip manufacturer Intel has a team of 1,000 workers trying to ensure that Qualcomm, the company behind the A9 chip used in Apple’s current phones, is ousted before the next devices come to market.
Nothing is signed yes, the site says, and it is possible that Apple may choose to use two suppliers for its chips rather than just one: “Apple maydual-source the LTE modems in its new iPhones from both Intel and Qualcomm. Today, Qualcomms 9X45 LTE chip is baked intoalliPhone modems.”
When mobile technology was in its infancy, Intel failed to adapt to the changing market and missed out on partnerships with some major manufacturers, so “This is a must-win for Intel,”a source told VentureBeat.
If a partnership does come about, then sources say that Apple “could turn to Intel to build a new system-on-a-chip (SoC) in the future, which combines both the processor and LTE modem.” This would help to save space and make the phone run faster.
New rumours suggest that Apple is considering introducing an OLED screen for the new iPhone 7. South Korean tech website ET News claims the company is looking to source the screens from smartphone rival Samsung, in time for the production of the next generation of iPhones, thought to be launched late next year.
The main difference between the LCD screens currently used for iPhones and their OLED counterparts is that LCD displays use a backlight to illuminate their pixels, while OLED screens create light on their own. Apple currently sources OLED screens from Samsung and LG for its Apple Watch range and the displays have garnered high praise from reviewers.
“I think Apple would be crazy not to [use OLED screens],” says Alphr’s Curtis Moldrich. “The iPhone 7 will need to give consumers a significant step up in all areas of the user experience if it’s to compete with forthcoming smartphones like the HTC M10 and Galaxy S7.”
James Rogerson at TechRadar believes the rumours highlight the growing link between Apple and its major rival. “If the iPhone 7 does have an OLED screen then Samsung and Apple will be closer matched than ever, yet with the display likely being made by Samsung they’ll also be strengthening their business relationship,” he claims.
Could iPhone 7 interface with the Apple car?
One of the more unusual rumours doing the rounds is that the iPhone 7 could give owners a preview of the forthcoming Apple car, and possibly even allow them to order one through an inbuilt app in the phone.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has hinted heavily that he has great interest in his company developing a car, but most technology experts agree that even if such a project is in the works, it is deeply unlikely that it will be anywhere near ready to coincide with the launch of the iPhone 7.
As financial website LearnBonds.com notes: “The Apple Car, if the firm is indeed working on it, isn’t going to hit the roads for a long time yet, and a September 2016 iPhone 7 release date isn’t likely to bring news of the project from Apple, at least not with any clarity.”
The site adds: “We’re not going to be able to order the Apple Car off of the iPhone 7, or not unless we keep it for quite a few years.”
Investment bank Piper Jaffray believes that Apple is likely to unveil a raft of major changes with the iPhone 7 including a much improved sapphire screen.
“A sapphire screen has long been rumoured for the iPhone,” says Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. “Since Apple now uses sapphire on the Apple Watch, it could make sense for them to adapt it to the phone. We note that Apple is using the stronger aluminium from the Apple Watch Sport for the iPhone 6S case.”
So what advantages would such a screen offer? According to Forbes, “the increased hardness of sapphire is a major pull for handset makers”, but what has long stood in the way of broad uptake of the material is the difficulty involved in its production, which so far has meant it has only featured in high-end luxury brand phones such as Vertu.
Sapphire also has a downside, says Forbes, which is that even though it is good at resisting scratches and scuffs, when it is broken “it tends to shatter not crack”.
Faster, better, stronger
The iPhone 7 is rumoured to be fitted with a ‘hexa-core’ processor, which will make the phone significantly speedier than the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, a better camera that improves on the current generation’s 12-megapixel lenses, and a stronger body to ensure that the phones do not bend, after some users reported that their iPhone 6 models would flex in their pockets.
So what will the iPhone 7 not do?
One improvement that most tech journalists believe is unlikely to happen is for Apple to significantly boost the iPhone 7’s battery life.
Jonny Ive, Apple’s chief design officer and to some the spiritual successor to Steve Jobs, has said many times that he doesn’t believe a longer battery life is worth the “significant sacrifices” it would require in other areas.
Apple is also expected to phase out its 16GB model when the new iPhone comes out. The 16GB of storage offered in the entry level iPhone 6S and 6S Plus models is considered something of an anachronism in the contemporary world of high-end mobile phones. At 32GB, the smallest Samsung Galaxy S6 phones offer twice as much storage as Apple’s cheapest flagship and still retail for a lower price.
Another common rumour rejected byMacWorld.comis the idea that Apple might change the new phone’s power cable making the iPhone 7 draw power from a USB-C port, like the new 12-inch MacBook. “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.”
It is also highly unlikely that the phone will have a spring-out joystick on its home button and a 3-D screen, the site says.