All eyes will be on San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium Wednesday when Apple hosts its latest product launch, which is expected to mark the iPhone 7’s eagerly-anticipated debut.
The rumor mill has been spinning full speed in the run-up to the event, with most of the attention focused on Apple’s supposed plan to ditch the headphone jack on the new iPhone, reportedly in favor of headphones connected via Bluetooth and the phone’s charging port.
“Our research in Asia highlights that Apple will remove the headphone jack by leveraging the Lightning connector,” wrote Drexel Hamilton analyst Brian White, in a recent note. “Although likely a contentious issue with iPhone users at first, we believe this will soon be forgotten and makes room for an additional speaker with enhanced sound quality.”
Ditching the headphone jack could also mean that the new iPhone offers greater water resistance than current iPhones.
The iPhone 7 Plus may also feature new dual-camera technology that combines two images for brighter, more detailed photos and offers improved zoom.
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are expected to have similar designs to the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, as well as retaining their predecessors’ respective 4.7-inch and 5.5.-inch screens. Drexel Hamilton’s White expects that the iPhone 7 will be 0.2 mm thinner than the iPhone 6s (6.9 mm vs. 7.1 mm).
Experts also expect Apple to ramp up the storage on the new phones. Whereas the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus offer storage capacities from 16GB to 128GB, Apple may have a significant upgrade for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus up its sleeve. “For storage, we expect the high end to ratchet up to 256GB from 128GB and the entry level to expand to 32GB from 16GB,” he wrote. “Moreover, our research indicates the two white horizontal antennas that cross the back of the iPhone 6s will now curve around the edge of the iPhone 7/7 Plus.”
Other potential features of the new iPhone could include a faster processor, likely called the A10, and a revamped, pressure-sensitive, home button.
Apple typically unveils new iPhone hardware designs every two years – its last major form factor overhaul was in 2014 when it launched the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. However, Apple watchers are eyeing next year for the big revamp of the iconic phone. 2017 will be the iPhone’s 10th anniversary and could herald significant hardware changes for the device, such as a rumored curved display.
In a blog post, analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research said that Apple could be taking a risk by ditching the headphone jack and sticking with existing hardware designs for the iPhone 7. “However it’s positioned, the removal of the audio jack is likely to give some people pause, and the lack of a new design is also likely to make some people want to wait until the form factor changes next year,” he wrote, in a recent blog post.
Nonetheless, Dawson believes that dual camera technology, combined with speed improvements and existing technologies like Live Photos and 4K video recording, could still prove compelling to many users on two-year upgrade cycles.
Apple’s iPhone sales fell for the second straight quarter recently, although its sales of 40.4 million iPhones came in above Wall Street’s expectations.
“While our survey work indicates consumers have delayed upgrading or purchasing an iPhone in the past several months, we expect the iPhone 7 and especially new iPhones in 2018 to reaccelerate iPhone sales,” said Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley, in a recent note.
The iPhone 7 will intensify Apple’s battle with smartphone rival Samsung. The Korean tech giant recalled its new Galaxy Note7 phone after finding that batteries on some of the devices exploded while they were charged.
In addition to iPhone 7, Apple could unveil a new Apple Watch with GPS technology, enhanced processor and improved fitness and health tracking. The new iOS 10 and macOS Sierra operating systems are also on deck.
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