Apple is saving its biggest iPhone design changes for 2017, sources say

By Shawn Knight ยท 9 replies
Jun 21, 2016
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  1. Those hoping for a total revamp of the iPhone this fall will be sorely disappointed according to sources familiar with the matter as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

    If Apple were to follow its standard practice of overhauling its phone every two years, the iPhone 7 set to arrive later this year would be due for a major update. Instead, sources say Apple will extend the cycle of the current design by one more year which means major design changes won’t arrive until 2017, the 10th anniversary of the iPhone.

    Instead, sources tell the Journal that this year’s phone will maintain the same 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays that were first introduced in 2014. The biggest change this cycle will reportedly be the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack which is to be replaced by the Lightning connector. This move will allow Apple to slim down its flagship by about one millimeter according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

    Although not mentioned in the Journal's report, we can also expect faster hardware in the form of a new processing chip, the A10, and other improvements that will come along with iOS 10. Intel has also reportedly been brought on as a modem chip supplier. The Journal also neglected to touch on other hot iPhone rumors including whether or not Apple will move to a dual rear camera setup or replace the 16GB entry-level storage option with a 32GB model (or even add a 256GB option).

    Looking ahead to next year, Apple is reportedly planning to replace the display with an edge-to-edge OLED screen and remove the physical Home button, instead building the Touch ID fingerprint sensor into the main display.

    Apple Chief Design Officer Jony Ive has reportedly expressed a desire for the iPhone to appear as a single sheet of glass. Implementing an edge-to-edge display would certainly move the iPhone closer to his vision, as would eliminating the physical Home button.

    Ditching its tick-tock release cycle is a risky proposition. On one hand, extending the current cycle one more year would – at least, in theory – create even more demand for 2017 models sporting an all-new design. But with Apple’s earnings recently having dipped for the first time in 13 years, can the Cupertino-based company afford to gamble at a time when markets are becoming saturated and demand has slowed? This is precisely why they pay Tim Cook the big bucks, to make these sort of decisions.

    It may simply be a matter of not having a choice. At a recent meeting with Apple executives last month, one of the company’s China-based engineers asked why the 2016 iPhone lacked any major design changes. Sources claim Apple said the new technology it was aiming to implement would need more time to develop.

    Sources say Apple hasn’t yet finalized the design of the 2017 iPhone so it’s possible that such changes may not make it into the product that eventually goes into production.

    Do you think Apple should put off any major design changes until 2017 or go ahead and roll them out now? Granted, it's probably too late in the process to make a major switch now but we're curious what you think. Would a price cut sway your mind either way? Let us know in the comments section below.

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  2. Greg S

    Greg S TechSpot Staff Posts: 1,075   +428

    Apple hasn't pulled off any major design changes since the iPhone 5 was introduced with 4G LTE.
    psycros likes this.
  3. MoeJoe

    MoeJoe TS Guru Posts: 712   +382

    They are hedging their losses.
  4. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 1,877   +1,298

    "Apple Chief Design Officer Jony Ive has reportedly expressed a desire for the iPhone to appear as a single sheet of glass. Implementing an edge-to-edge display would certainly move the iPhone closer to his vision, as would eliminating the physical Home button."

    Astoundingly stupid moves if true. Why would they want the iPhone to look exactly like every overpriced Android flagship? Why would they want it to be thinner? Seriously, who gains from that other than 25-year old manboys in their skinny jeans? Are those the only people left who upgrade every single year? Actually...that might well be the case. But the push towards making phones that double as knives really makes no sense at all. Most consumers would much rather have a bigger battery than lose crucial features, and at this point Apple needs to be doing things to stop the migration to Google's ecosystem. Pretending its still 2010 isn't going to accomplish that. There's a reason that objects have DEPTH - so you an actually HOLD ONTO them.
    Godel, Raoul Duke and Arris like this.
  5. Panda218

    Panda218 TS Evangelist Posts: 465   +217

    Are you implying that the iPhone isn't an overpriced device? If so that's MADNESS
  6. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,111   +1,286

    Bigger batteries especially. It's great that they can keep making these devices thinner and with more powerful hardware (even though we are at the point where it's pointless for 99% of people) but it doesn't mean much if the phone requires a nearly constant connection to the wall. What exactly is the point of loading facebook up on a 4k display all to have to hurry and rush to the wall so the phone doesn't die?
    Godel, Raoul Duke and Arris like this.
  7. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    All flagship devices are overpriced but Apple far more than Android, not to mention "overrated".
    Panda218 likes this.
  8. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    Having to use overpriced lightning connector headphones(most likely some Beats rubbish) rather than a standard 3.5mm jack pair to save on 1mm of thickness on the device. Madness... definitely madness and not Sparta.
  9. GreenNova343

    GreenNova343 TS Maniac Posts: 208   +115

    Ooooh, one millimeter thinner...which will mean that all existing cases will no longer fit, & all existing earbuds (especially any that *GASP* aren't made by Apple and/or officially promoted by them) will no longer work with the new phones, so now you'll have to buy all new accessories for the new phone.

    Yet realistically, despite that "magic millimeter" of thinness, it *won't* feel any less bulky in your pocket/purse/bag, it *won't* feel any lighter (as you'll need a scale to see the weight difference...if any...), you *won't* see any difference in sound quality over the Lightning-equipped versions... & to top it all off, not only will you have to choose between charging & listening, but you'll have to worry about whether the earbuds have the same hacking module that we've been warned about with chargers (since the audio jack *only* gave your earbuds access to the sound portion, but the Lighting connector grants you access to everything in the phone).

    I'm "meh" on the OLED, as long as it doesn't mean existing cases will no longer fit. But moving the Touch ID fingerprint sensor to the screen is just senseless. What's next, move the ear speaker off the front so that you have to turn the phone sideways to listen to somebody? Or worse, you're trying to scroll through a page or click on a link, but it happens to be right where the "Home" button area on the screen is, so you keep turning your phone off? Blocking off a portion of the touchscreen to act as a virtual Home button just means you have the *same* amount of space unavailable as the physical button... but it will be even more confusing for the users. Definitely not their best idea.
    Arris likes this.
  10. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,890   +1,224

    Which means their next major 'innovation' will come straight from the list of feature's of an Android Flagship from last year. My vote is wireless charging.

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