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iPhone 7 release date rumours & new features

David Price | June 23, 2016
Apple to ditch usual upgrade cycle, save features for iPhone 8 | iPhone 7 headphone jack 'safe for now' according to reports.

iPhone 7 design rumours: Apple could keep the headphone jack, but make it slimmer

Apple was not able to announce, in September, that the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are the thinnest iPhones ever. In fact, they are a tiny bit thicker than their respective predecessors, because they had to squeeze in the components to power 3D Touch and some extra-thick aluminium reinforcement around the most bend-prone areas.

For the iPhone 7, therefore, we suspect that the company may like to trim a few millimetres. One way it can do this - and a clue that thinness is still on its designers' minds - is a newly granted patent, number 9,142,908, for a cut-down headphone connector.

iPhone 7 release date rumours: Headphone connector

If you look around the edge of your current iPhone, you'll see that the headphone aperture appears to be the external factor on exactly how much Apple can thin down the device. The headphone port is bigger, from top to bottom, than the Lightning port, bigger than the speaker grill, marginally bigger than the volume buttons (which could easily be cut down if necessary). It's an obvious target for miniaturisation.

Apple's solution to this is a "Low profile male connector", which sounds a bit like someone who isn't very good at dating but in this case means a D-shaped headphone port. Instead of being round, the headphone connector has a segment lopped off so it takes up slightly fewer precious millimetres.

iPhone 7 design rumours: Could we even get a thicker chassis? (Probably not.)

We expect the iPhone 7 to be thinner, as explained above, but a lot of users feel that the iPhones have already reached the peak of useful thinness - in the sense that reducing the thickness of the devices any further is going to compromise on qualities such as physical robustness without offering any real benefits in terms of portability. It's even possible that the iPhone 7 could be a bit thicker, if Apple feels it can use this change to incorporate useful new features. We think this is unlikely, but let's run with the theory as a thought experiment.

One reason why the iPhone 7 may be thicker than the iPhone 6s, for instance, would be so that it can feature what Apple calls "sidewall displays".

Apple has published a patent relating to such displays, hinting that a future iPhone could feature a display that extends on to the sides of the device (or a slim second display sitting on the side of the device). This could give access to the slide-to-unlock functionality, music player controls, messaging readout, caller ID, system controls and more.


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