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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.