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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 new features: No SIM card

A report in the Financial Times [paywall] in late July suggests that smartphones with physical SIM cards may soon be a thing of the past, as Apple and other smartphone manufacturers come closer to agreeing a standard for a built-in software/electronic SIM.

The FT predicts that this project is more likely to bear fruit in the 2016 generation of iPhones than the ones released in autumn 2015; this year's iPhones (the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, perhaps) are more likely to come with an Apple-branded hardware SIM like the iPad Air 2. The Apple SIM (which we discuss in the next section) works with multiple networks, offering many of the same benefits as a software SIM but requiring less wrangling with the networks.

iPhone 7 new features: ...or a pre-installed 'Apple SIM'

The same source who told AppleInsider about the RAM increase (in the specs section, above) also reckons that the iPhone 7 is likely to come with a pre-installed Apple SIM.

"[The Apple SIM], which also made its debut with the iPad Air 2, allows consumers to sign up for mobile data plans from any participating carrier directly from the Settings app without long-term contracts and to switch providers at any time," says the site.

This is unlikely to be a popular move with the carriers, although it may be a hit with users. Read more about the Apple SIM in this article:

iPhone 7 new features: Dynamic Home button

This one sounds a little like the 'joystick Home button' rumour we look at below, but is rather more plausible.

Apple has published a new patent for a Home that is sensitive to gestures: you'd be able to swipe across it, or lean a thumb in one direction to scroll the screen of a game, for example, that way. 

As BusinessInsider puts it: "The patent details an iOS home button capable of detecting various gestures along with the force of each touch. In other words, imagine Force Touch [see below], albeit applied to the home button as opposed to the device's display."

It certainly sounds less damage-prone than the 'pop-out' Home button we heard about earlier this year, and which we find very hard to imagine appearing in the iPhone 7. Then again, plenty of pundits have been speculating about Apple doing away with the Home button entirely - as is the case on a number of Android smartphones - and installing Touch ID on the screen itself. Colour us unconvinced.

iPhone 7 new features: 'Joystick'-style Home button for gamers

This rumour is pretty far out there, and we're not sure it's realistic to expect this to appear in any Apple devices for a while yet. But it's definitely an interesting idea.

 

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