What to Expect from Apple’s iPhone 7

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By the end of the year, Apple will have launched its next-generation iPhone, which it will almost certainly dub “iPhone 7.”

While some iPhone generations feature radical design changes, the current round of scuttlebutt suggests that the iPhone 7 will closely resemble the current-generation iPhone 6S. According to The Wall Street Journal, which drew its information from the ever-popular unnamed sources, Apple will remove the headphone jack from the new device. Instead, the Lightning connector will serve as both a charging and peripheral port.

Apple has good reasons to consider removing the headphone jack. As the iPhone has progressively slimmed down with each new hardware generation, room inside the device has become more valuable. With no jack, Apple can insert additional components or even expand the size of the screen.

Apple’s rumored decision to eliminate the headphone jack has drawn comparisons with Steve Jobs’ choice in the late 1990s to remove the floppy drive from the iMac. At the time, many users complained about the missing drives, even as Jobs insisted that the technology was outdated. The difference now, as Nilay Patel argued over at The Verge, is that wired headphones are by no means archaic; nobody with a perfectly good pair of them wants to switch to wireless ones, or purchase a dongle that will interoperate with the Lightning connector.

Time will tell whether removing the headphone jack turns out to be prescient, or merely a huge mistake. On the positive side, lack of another hole in the iPhone could make the device more waterproof, like the current-generation Samsung Galaxy, and maybe even a little thinner.

While Apple might not tinker too much with the iPhone 7’s aesthetics, the hardware could receive a major upgrade under the hood, including a more muscular processor and increased storage options. If rumors prove correct, the larger-screen option, the iPhone 7 Plus, may also receive a new dual-camera system more capable of shooting in lower-light environments (the “regular” edition of the phone, at least according to sites like MacRumors, will maintain the single-lens setup of the current device line).

The iPhone has usually undergone a massive hardware and design revamp every other year. In theory, 2016 should mark such a transition. So why are all the Apple rumor-mills reporting that the iPhone 7 will boast only a handful of upgrades? It could have something to do with 2017, which will mark ten years since the first iPhone’s release: Apple executives may have decided to withhold a whole slew of cool features for the device’s tenth-anniversary edition.

In the meantime, developers interested in prepping for what will surely be a big marketing push around the iPhone 7 can play around with the preview of iOS 10, due to arrive this fall with upgraded Messaging, Photo, and Map apps.

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