iPhone 7: will new iPhone feature first top-to-bottom screen?

By on Oct 27, 2015 in Mobility Strategy | 0 comments

A designer in the Czech Republic has created a radical new iPhone 7 concept sketch which shows how the phone may look if – as many tech experts believe - Apple gets rid of the home button on its next handset.

A video and accompanying images from Marek Weidlich, a Czech designer, show the device with a top-to-bottom screen, which would be a first for any manufacturer.

The body of the phone looks like very much like an iPhone 6, with a home screen that appears to be based on an Apple Watch.

Prior to the launch of each new model iPhone, Apple never releases any information on what the forthcoming phone will look like or be capable of, but in the absence of any official details, concept sketches have become an increasingly useful indicator of what is to come.

Weidlich’s concept sketch is largely successful, says tech site BGR, but the inclusion of both the speaker and front-facing ‘selfie’ camera on the screen seem unlikely.

“The front-facing camera and speaker sticking out from the screen is something that Apple would definitely not make,” the site says, “as these elements would significantly disrupt in-app UI and overall experience when it comes to gaming and video playback.”

See the radical concept video below.

 

iPhone 7: should you buy an iPhone 6S or 6S Plus now or wait for the new model?

22 October

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 to KnowYourMobile.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.

Waterproof design

Several sites, including Apple 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.

Wireless charging

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 Times reports, 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.

Wraparound screen

On 29 September, Apple filed a patent application with the US Patent and Trademark Office for what it calls “sidewall displays”, [1]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 company is paving the way for a new wraparound display.

Intel inside?

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 may dual-source the LTE modems in its new iPhones from both Intel and Qualcomm. Today, Qualcomm’s 9X45 LTE chip is baked into all iPhone 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.

iPhone 7 concept

Hajek adopts a similar approach for this iPhone 7 concept, in which the screen meets all four edges of the frame. As a result, he says, the overall dimensions of the phone can shrink.

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.”

Sapphire screen

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”.

iPhone 7 concept

Yasser Farahi takes a more conservative approach, making only a few structural tweaks to the iPhone 6. He imagines that Apple will instead focus on extending the iPhone’s colour palette, opting for more subtle shades than it chose for the iPhone 5C.

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 by MacWorld.com is 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.

So should you wait for the iPhone 7, or are there enough reasons to go ahead and upgrade to an iPhone 6S or 6S Plus now?

Should I buy an iPhone 6S?

If you have an iPhone 5S, or anything older, the iPhone 6S will represent a significant upgrade – and unless you’re averse to its larger size you will appreciate the improvements to screen, camera and processing power.

For iPhone 6 owners, the decision may be more marginal. Here are the main differences between the 6 and the 6S:

3D Touch

Most reviewers agree that the biggest new feature is 3D Touch, which allows the iPhone 6S touchscreen to differentiate between a light touch (what Apple calls a “peek”) and a harder tap (a “pop”), reacting differently to each. For example, you can peek into an email with a light touch, getting a preview of the text, or pop it open by increasing the pressure.

“It really is an efficient way to triage messages, especially ones that you can’t get the gist of from the two- or three-line preview in the message list itself,” says Daring Fireball‘s John Gruber. “The productivity gain with this workflow is that you don’t have to go back after finishing.”

High-res camera

The iPhone 6 had an excellent camera, but its resolution was beginning to lag behind that of rivals. With the iPhone 6S, Apple boosts the megapixel count from eight to twelve, and adds high-resolution 4K video shooting into the bargain. All that is very welcome, say reviewers, but the main improvements come in the autofocus system. “It actually focuses on the subject,” says Pocket Lint, “rather than trying to make the whole scene sharp.” That can separate the subject from the background, adding depth to the image.

iPhone 7 concept

Yasser Farahi takes a more conservative approach, making only a few structural tweaks to the iPhone 6. He imagines that Apple will instead focus on extending the iPhone’s colour palette, opting for more subtle shades than it chose for the iPhone 5C.

Performance upgrade

The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus come with upgraded processors and twice as much RAM as the 6 and 6 Plus, which helps to ensure that the handsets are smooth and fast. You soon take the extra speed for granted, say reviewers, but you notice its absence if you step back to last year’s model.

Gaming

According to games review site Touch Arcade, the 3D Touch feature of the iPhone 6S is going to be a literal and figurate “game changer”.

The first and only game that utilises 3D Touch so far is a racing game called AG Drive. Typically, controlling acceleration and braking in racing games on a touchscreen has been “very binary”, the site notes, but AG Drive allows players greater control with differing amounts of pressure applied to the screen.

“Playing AG Drive on an iPhone 6S turns the on-screen virtual buttons into analog buttons, with a shocking amount of sensitivity,” Touch Arcade’s editor in chief Eli Hodapp says. “When I first watched the keynote I assumed that the screen could detect three levels of force: A normal tap, a tap that’s ‘hard’ enough to cause the iOS peak, and then the ‘hardest’ tap which causes the final popup to happen. In actuality, there’s tons of variance.”

This variance could be used in different games to create different effects – which may finally mean using a touchscreen to control games is no longer inferior to using a games controller.

“It’s crazy how well it works,” Hodapp says, “and I think it’s only going to get better.”

What hasn’t changed?

Although Apple insisted that “the only thing that’s changed is everything”, the iPhone 6S is very similar to its predecessor. In many cases, that’s no bad thing – the iPhone 6 was an excellent device and there was no need for wholesale change. But in at least one respect, the iPhone 6S is a missed opportunity, many reviewers agree. Battery life has not improved.

In fact, the new iPhone has a smaller battery than last year’s model, due to the extra space taken up by the new pressure-sensitive touchscreen. While more efficient software has helped to stretch the available power as far as possible, the iPhone 6S still struggles to get through the day on a single charge. 

Conclusion

The result is that while the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus are excellent, they can occasionally be frustrating to use, particularly if you are out of range of a power socket for long periods of time. Nevertheless, says Forbes, “for those where money isn’t an object and charging cables are plentiful, the iPhone 6S seems to be worth the upgrade”. 

iPhone 7 concept

Jan-Willem Reusink’s iPhone 7 concept design envisages a sharp-edged, all-metal frame. That could prove problematic for getting a radio signal, but the finish is crisp and smart.

Which iPhone 6S should I buy?

If you know that the iPhone 6S is for you, there are three main decisions to make before lining up outside the Apple Store.

Colour

Apple has added an extra colour to the iPhone 6S range: rose gold, which to most eyes looks like metallic pink. “Apple might insist on calling it rose gold,” says Mashable. “But we know the truth. It’s pink.” The three other colours are space grey (black front and dark silver back), silver (light silver back and white front) and gold (which, like its pink sibling, also has a white front).

iPhone 6S or 6S Plus?

The standard-sized 6S has a 4.7-inch screen, making it bigger than any previous iPhone, but the 6S Plus weighs in at a whopping 5.5 inches. For some that’s too big to carry comfortably, but for others the extra screen space is worth the inconvenience. There is a second reason to opt for the 6S Plus: its better battery life. While both iPhone 6S models come with smaller batteries than their predecessors (see above), the larger frame of the 5.5-inch model gives Apple the space to cram in more battery capacity. As a result, the 6S Plus should be more than capable of lasting the day on a single charge, while the smaller 6S may be struggling by tea-time.  

Memory size

How much memory you need will depend on how you plan to use your iPhone 6S, and particularly whether it will be your primary store of music, video and photographs. But one piece of advice has united reviewers: don’t buy the 16GB model, which will quickly run out of space. In fact, says The Guardian‘s Samuel Gibbs, “Apple shouldn’t be selling a 16GB iPhone 6S or 6S Plus.” Even last year many critics argued that the entry-level model was under-endowed with memory, but the increased camera resolution, which leads to significantly larger photo and video files, has rendered 16GB impractical for all but the most restrained of smartphone photographers.

Or plump for an iPhone 6 instead

For those who are new to Apple or upgrading from an iPhone 5S or older, it’s worth considering another option. If 3D Touch and a 12-megapixel camera are surplus to your requirements, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus remain excellent smartphones, and they’re now significantly cheaper. A 16GB iPhone 6S comes in at £459, £80 cheaper than it was a couple of weeks ago (and £80 cheaper than the equivalent iPhone 6S). A similar discount applies across the 6S and 6S Plus model range.

While some might interpret a significant number of people shunning the iPhone 6S in favour of last year’s model as a failure for Apple, the company may not see it that way.

“Higher demand for the older models (which aren’t supply constrained) could actually help Apple beat its sales record from the holiday quarter last year, when the iPhone 6 and especially the iPhone 6 Plus were in short supply all quarter,” says tech news site BGR.

And although they are being sold more cheaply, the production costs will have dropped over time as the price of components fall. Maintaining demand for the older models may therefore help Apple to keep sales volumes high without putting much of a dent in its profit margins.

iPhone 6S offers ‘higher resale value’

Apple’s new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus offer better value to customers and will have an improved lifespan than their predecessors, new research has found, suggesting that the devices will also have higher resale value.

In a “teardown test”, where a device is stripped down to its component parts and valued, IHS Technology found that Apple has incorporated parts worth $16 (£10.50) more in its iPhone 6S Plus 16GB than the equivalent iPhone 6 Plus.

This means that the device could last longer, says tech site CNet, and will likely sell for more money second-hand.

“With each generation [Apple] makes measured, incremental technology improvements to its iPhone line, and this time around those changes are increasing Apple’s per-unit material cost,” says Andrew Rassweiler, senior director of cost benchmarking services for IHS Technology.

The upshot is that if you are worried about the longevity of your phone, you should “worry no more”, says CNet’s Luke Lancaster, “because Apple is paying more to put its new iPhones together, and a longer lifespan and improved resale value seem to be the name of the game.”

Apple has also improved the new phones’ water resistance, according to Apple Insider. While the company hasn’t been advertising it, the new models have a 0.3mm wider ‘lip’ around their frame which may help hold out liquid.

“One-third of a millimeter may not seem like much, but given how tight the iPhone’s tolerances are nowadays, the change is big enough to see with the naked eye,” repair experts iFixit said. “And it’s almost certainly enough of a change that other components had to be subtly tweaked to match. Make no mistake, Apple gave this careful thought.”  

Apple has also encased its phones’ logic boards in a silicone seal, protecting the battery, display, buttons and Lightning port from exposure to water damage.

Some experts believe that the changes to the iPhone 6S foreshadow more significant design shifts being incorporated into next-year’s iPhone 7.   

According to Apple Insider: “prototype next-generation iPhones feature design improvements intended to keep out both water and dust, suggesting Apple is toying with a more ‘ruggedised’ handset for a 2016 refresh.”

 

iPhone 6S price and launch date

The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are now available to pre-order from the Apple website for delivery on or after 25 September, when they will also be on sale in Apple Stores and other high-street stockists.

The prices will be as follows:

iPhone 6S
  • £539 for 16GB model
  • £619 for 64GB model
  • £699 for 128GB model
iPhone 6S Plus
  • £619 for 16GB model
  • £699 for 64GB model
  • £789 for 128GB model 

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