iPhone 7: will new iPhone kill off tradition headphones?

By on Nov 30, 2015 in Mobility Strategy | 0 comments

The iPhone 7 will ditch the traditional headphone jack in favour of using the lightning port for audio output, according to rumours circulating on the internet.

Japanese technology website Macotakara has reported that Apple is planning to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack from the next handset in an effort to make the next iPhone 1mm slimmer.

The site and its sources have been accurate in the past, and the rumours – while radical – fit in with Apple’s past changes, such as the introduction of the lightning port over the original 30-pin charging setup, as well as the latest MacBook using small USB Type C ports.

Reaction to the rumour has been mixed over what the shift would mean for Apple and iPhone users alike.

Gordon Kelly of Forbes highlights how the removal of the headphone jack would allow Apple to gain control over the last standard port it equips to handsets, and use it to create “smart headphones” tied closer to the iPhone itself which could interact with apps and notifications for a more streamlined experience.

The move could also prompt Apple to improve the AirPlay function for Bluetooth headphone users.

Kelly points to the evidence already out there which suggests this could happen, by way of Apple’s MFi (Made for iPhone) scheme opening up the possibility of manufacturing lightning port headphones to third parties.

Apple has also filed a patent for a slimmer headphone jack, suggesting they are interested in the idea of changing industry standards in order to slim their phones even more.

Third party hardware manufacturers will have to be on board with Apple’s challenge if it is to be successful, Venturebeat says.

The site expects several companies to play ball with Apple, and even suggest that Lightning port equipped Beats-branded headphones could be released by Apple.

So is the rumour true? Macworld points out that the source of the information is generally reliable, and also highlights Apple’s history of dropping tech from its products, such as the lack of a Floppy drive on the original iMac.

The tech site says: “Such a development may lead to a fractured headphone market, but it’s also possible that Apple has other, bigger plans for the Lightning connector. Only time will tell.”

Stuff is sceptical of the rumours, pointing out that the same information has circulated in the past.

The site also emphasises how radical the change would be, claiming that Apple leaving the industry standard headphone jack “would be a seismic shift in how we interact with and connect to our devices”. Rumours like this should be taken with “a grain of salt for now”.

iPhone 7 Mini: critics divided on Apple’s compact iPhone concept

27 November

Rumours continue to circulate that Apple intends to bring out three devices next year rather than just two. Alongside its two larger handsets similar to the current iPhone 6S and 6S Plus models, some tech analysists believe Apple will launch a smaller phone, which is being referred to online as the iPhone 7 Mini.

Debate is currently centred around two key questions. First, will Apple make an iPhone 7 Mini at all? And second, if it does happen, will it be a scaled-down version of the base iPhone 7 with all the function and features in a smaller package, or will it be a cheaper, entry-level iPhone similar to the iPhone 5C, which was released at the same time as the iPhone 5?

Currently, Apple sells iPhones in three sizes. The 4.7 and 5.5 inch screens available on the current 6S models are larger than the 4-inch screen offered on the 5S. But considering the most recent versions of Apple’s smartphone have grown in size rather than shrunk, adding a smaller addition to the 7 range seems out of step with Apple’s previous direction, Macworld says, and is “by no means a certainty.”

However, Tech Insider thinks the rumours are more than likely true, saying “we’ve been hearing rumours of Apple reintroducing a smaller iPhone for some time now.”

iDigitaltimes reports that “credible sources” say the next 4-inch iPhone will not use the A9 processor, which is expected to feature in the iPhone 7, but instead will be fitted with the A8 chip used in the current iPhone 6S. 

According to Appleinsider, KGI analysist Ming-Chi Kuo, whose past iPhone predictions have been startlingly accurate, contradicts the iDigitaltimes report by suggesting that the iPhone 7 Mini will use the new A9 processor but will strip back some features of the larger phones, such as pressure-sensing 3D touch screen. He also suggests the phone will have a metal casing and could begin production in early in 2016, followed by the larger ones later in the year.

Many commentators say that the continued availability of a four-inch handset is a necessity for Apple, as current iPhone owners who never upgraded to one of the larger iPhone 6 or 6S models may wish to stick with a smaller product. The California-based company may be gambling that the lower price of its smaller phones may be a draw for those who don’t want to spend over the odds for one of its larger smartphones. Forbes claims that Apple will not equip the iPhone 7 Mini with top end features, adding that the handset could be used as a tool to upsell the more expensive and larger models, claiming the Mini will be “weak by design”, and that the way Apple has always made iPhones, in a pattern of “good, better, best” means the small phone, despite replacing the ageing iPhone 5 design, will lose out in key areas such as its battery capacity. “The dream of a four-inch iPhone 7 may be real, but it’s unlikely to match the iPhone 7 plus” Forbes concludes.

iPhone 7 concept

This iPhone concept fits somewhere in between the standard and Plus-size handsets, with a 5.1-inch screen. Designed by Joseph Farahi, the model looks impossibly slim, but at 6.1mm it is only 0.8mm slimmer than the iPhone 6. Combining elements of the previous two concept models, it takes the bright silver edge detailing and applies it to a handsome flat slice of aluminium.

iPhone 7 rumours: should you skip iPhone 6S and upgrade next year?

24 November

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.

iPhone 7 concept

The most innovative – and unlikely – aspect of this iPhone 7 concept from Scavids is that it runs Android, not a move that either Apple or Google would ever countenance. For some users, though, it might provide the best of both worlds: sleek, desirable Apple hardware with the flexibility of Google’s operating system.

Wraparound screen

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 company is paving the way for a new wraparound display.

iPhone 7 concept

The rear of the phone protrudes, allowing more space for addition battery capacity – something iPhone users have often requested. But Apple has been faithful to flat-backed designs since its first smartphone.

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.

Panic button

An Apple patent recently granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office has prompted speculation that the iPhone 7 might include a built-in “panic button”. According to the patent, the fingerprint scanner, which serves as a home button, could be used to lock the device and transmit a warning signal to the emergency services. The phone’s data would then be rendered inaccessible unless authorised by its owner. The Daily Mirror suggests that other features could also be included, such as switching on the camera and microphone to record who is using the phone. These recordings could then be sent to police to help them catch the thieves.

“The mobile device may be unlocked using a designated finger that activates a panic mode of operation, wherein personal data stored on the mobile device is not accessible or viewable to the user,” says the patent application. “In other implementations, the user may register particular fingerprints to be associated with different modes of operation and activate the different modes based on the particular fingerprints.”

iPhone owners can already remotely wipe their devices or track them through the Find My iPhone free app.

OLED or LCD screen?

Last month there were rumours that Apple was considering introducing an OLED screen for the new iPhone 7. ET News, a South Korean tech website, said it was looking to source the screens from Apple’s smartphone rival Samsung, in time for the production of the next generation of iPhones, expected to be launched late next year.

The main difference between the LCD (liquid-crystal display) screens currently used for iPhones and their OLED counterparts is that LCD displays use a backlight to illuminate their pixels, while OLED (organic light-emitting diode) 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.

However, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo thinks Apple will continue using LCD technology for at least three years and likely beyond. He says Apple supplier Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn, is preparing to invest in advanced LCD production lines in China for mass production in 2018. On top of that, iPhone backlight supplier Minebea told investors earlier this month that it does not foresee a risk of LCD share loss to OLED in the high-end smartphone market in the next three years.

If true, the decision might disappoint some fans and critics. Last month, Curtis Moldrich at Alphr said Apple would be “crazy” not to use OLED screens. He suggests the “outdated” LCD panel is “one of the reasons they often look pale and washed out” in comparison to OLED-equipped smartphones. “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,” said Moldrich. “An OLED screen will certainly help Apple fend off the competition.”

iPhone 7 concept

Long before reports suggested that Apple was working on a buttonless iPhone, Martin Hajek had come up with a concept model that achieves a similar end, on his design, the screen extends to the edge of the frame, transforming the iPhone’s home button – one of the few features that has remained constant since the first model. Instead of a mechanical push-button, Hajek imagines it as an indented, touch sensitive spot, which would incorporate the TouchID fingerprint reader.

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.

Release date

There is no confirmed release date for the iPhone 7, but Apple’s launch schedule for the past few years offers some clues. The first four generations of the iPhone were released in June or July, but then the 4S came out in October 2011. Since then, Apple has consistently released an iPhone or two iPhones in September each year. Tech critics predict that it will be around September again for the iPhone 7, possibly alongside the Apple Watch 2.

However, the latest rumours suggest there might also be a mid-2016 Apple launch – for the iPhone “mini”. The phone is predicted to be a 4-inch model, the same size as the iPhone 5S, and to be marketed as a cheaper alternative to the iPhone 7. It has been variously dubbed the “iPhone 6C”, the “iPhone 7C” and the “iPhone Mini”. “It’s been rumoured ever since the 5C launched, and it’s fair to say many questions have been raised over its potential existence since – but the same can be said for the iPad Pro,” says TechRadar. A supersized tablet from Apple was rumoured for years but it did eventually materialise, says the site, which reckons Apple is “playing a similar game with the iPhone 6C”.

Marek Weidlich shows how the phone may look if Apple gets rid of the home button on its next handset, which many tech experts believe is on the cards for the iPhone 7.

iPhone 7: will next Apple iPhone squirt water from its speakers?

17 November

Apple has issued a surprise patent for technology that would allow iPhones to squirt water from their speaker ports. 

The patent, titled ‘Liquid Expulsion From An Orifice’, details how future phones could use electrical charges to push water out of their speakers to try to prevent damage to their interior.

According to the International Business Times, the feature would be activated once water was detected by “pressure, optical or moisture” sensors.

The patent, which was accepted by the US Patent and Trademark Office last week, adds another level of water resistance by deploying a negative electric charge on a protective screen mesh on the outside of the speakers, which would help to stop water from entering the device in the first place.

Another technique the patent proposes uses sound waves to “blast” water from the phone’s orifices.

Apple has not yet indicated that its future phones will be waterproof, but these patents – together with others published in March for “hydrophobic coatings” for internal components – indicate that the company may be heading in that direction.

However, Apple has a history of using the US patent office to plant red herrings for its competitors “as with many of Apple’s patent applications and filings, it’s unknown if or when it plans to implement the feature in one of its products”, the IB Times says.

Luke Dormehl, at Cult of Mac, describes the idea of self-drying iPhones as a “crazy” invention.

“It all sounds impressively high-tech, and – hey – if it was another step toward protecting us from accidental water damage on our iPhones, it’s absolutely a feature I’d love to see Apple add for a next-generation iPhone,” he says.

IPhones built after 2006 have a built-in ‘liquid contact indicator’, which shows whether the device has been in contact with water or a liquid containing water. The indicator is normally white or silver, but turns red if it gets wet.

One survey by Mobilephonechecker.co.uk suggested that a third of broken iPhones were damaged by falling into water, such as a toilet, sink or bath.

This was the second most common cause of damage. The main cause of damage was dropping the device on a hard surface, while others had stood or sat on their phones.

Of the 1,486 UK adults surveyed, 12 per cent said they had left their phone on the roof of a car, ten per cent said it had been broken by a child and one woman said she had dropped her phone into a blender by accident.

iPhone 7 will be ‘significantly less power-efficient’ than rivals

13 November

Bad news for iPhone fans who have been holding out for Apple to improve the battery life of their phones. The latest iPhone 7 rumours this week suggest that the forthcoming handset will stick with the battery-eating screens Apple presently uses.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo – one of the most respected voices in predicting the next move by Apple – said this week that he believes it is unlikely the tech giant will change from the liquid crystal displays it currently uses to Amoled technology, now used by many of its rivals.

Why is this significant? Well, as Forbes notes “the issue is about power efficiency.”

“Amoled is significantly more power efficient than the LED-backlit IPS LCD panels Apple has been using for years,” the publication says. “Combine this with plans for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus to be just 6-6.5mm thick, which makes a much bigger battery for that generation unlikely.

“Plus owners won’t care, but with an increased resolution also on the cards many expected a move to Amoled to be the enabler.”

Amoled is a technology Apple’s rivals have been using for several years. So could Apple somehow keep their battery-sucking screens, make the next handset thinner and still manage to improve its battery life?

It seems improbable, Forbes says, which means that when it comes to the device’s battery life, it is “highly unlikely users are going to experience any improvement in what is arguably the iPhone 6S’ worst feature. 


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