iPhone 7 Coming in 2016

Apple is reportedly testing five prototypes of the iPhone 7. Here are five rumors circulating about the model predicted to debut next year.

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It hasn’t been long since the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus hit the market, but the rumor mill is already churning with whispers of what Apple will include (and eliminate) in the iPhone 7.

Apple is exploring a range of new technologies for the next edition of iPhone, suggests GforGames. The blog, which cites Chinese sources, describes how Apple has at least five iPhone 7 prototypes with varying features.

Industry watchers are expecting some major changes in the 2016 iPhone. The S-branded upgrades, which are usually minor, brought 3D Touch, 12MP camera with 4K video, A9 processor and CAT 6 LTE. The latest iPhones are powerful, yes, but the iPhone 7 is predicted to deliver more drastic changes.

It’s too early to say anything with certainty, especially in relation to a company as notoriously secretive as Apple. That said, it’s interesting to ponder which new technologies will be in the hands of consumers one year from now.

[iOS 9 adoption hits 70%, leaving Android 6 in the dust.]

Here are five rumors circulating about the iPhone 7:

Much thinner design

Apple’s smartphone is slimming down with each release, and the iPhone 7 is no exception. The company is reportedly working on a design that will be between 6.0- and 6.5-mm thick, according to AppleInsider.

Because the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are already so slim, reports of an even thinner device have prompted concerns about how thinness will interfere with the phone’s functionality. Battery life is one key feature that could be affected by a smaller design.

3.5-mm headphone jack eliminated

Apple’s quest to make the iPhone thinner than its existing model will involve some hardware alterations. A report from Japanese tech website Mac Otakara cites a “reliable” anonymous source who claims Apple is planning to swap out its 3.5-mm headphone jack and instead use its Lightning port for audio output.

The 3.5-mm headphone jack is the standard model found in smartphones and other electronics throughout the world. This switch would require headphone owners to buy an adapter, or headphone manufacturers to build a new type of connector, for the new iPhone 7.

Alternatively, Mac Otakara noted the iPhone 7 would include EarPods compatible with the Lightning connector. It would also support third-party Bluetooth and Lightning-based headphones.

On the other hand, some rumors suggest the iPhone 7 won’t have a Lightning port at all. The GforGames blog post claims one prototype includes a USB Type-C connector that’s compatible with headsets. Apple has already included the all-in-one USB-C port in the newest MacBook model.

Waterproof design

Apple is rumored to be creating a waterproof design for the iPhone 7. A patent application posted on AppleInsider indicates Apple has created a shutter system that blocks access to port openings for the speaker, microphone and other ports on the device. The electronically controlled shutters are placed over vulnerable openings and can quickly block them from damage.

(Image: Apple)

The shutters would safeguard ports when they are not in use, which would prevent liquid or dust from getting in. Such a design change could potentially save iPhone owners from expensive repairs or phone replacements.

On-screen fingerprint scanner

Most current iPhone users have a Home button that doubles as a fingerprint reader for additional security. Another patent suggests Apple is testing fingerprint recognition for its display. If true, the rumor would mean its next iPhone would have an edge-to-edge screen and eliminate the Home button entirely. This would be a welcome change for critics who think Apple should cut back on the iPhone’s bezels to maximize its display.

Wireless charging

Another iPhone 7 spec model reportedly uses wireless charging, another change that would make sense with the thinner design. While it is a possibility, there is no indication of whether Apple would plan to use an existing model for wireless charging, or if it has created its own.

Which of these iPhone 7 features would you like to see become reality? Is there an idea you think Apple should toss? What would you like the see most in the next iPhone? We’d like to hear your thoughts.