Those holding out for a radical redesign might want to adjust their expectations: according to many, many leaks, the iPhone 7, which has been tipped for a September 16 release, is shaping up as only a minor design update on last year’s model. While this is sure to disappoint many – after all, why buy a new phone when your mates won’t notice? – it’s not actually that big a hardship really.
Yes, the iPhone 6S might have already replicated the design of the 2014-released iPhone 6, but so what? It’s still one of the best looking smartphones available today. If the iPhone 7 echoes this, you’ll be in possession of one of the most attractive devices doing the rounds.
There will thankfully be a few design differences, though. First the good: those slightly unsightly antenna lines on the rear of the 6S look like they’ll be given the shove, while the existing gold, silver, grey and rose gold (pink) colour schemes could be enhanced by the return of a true black device.
Now the potentially bad: for some reason, Apple appears set to kill off the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack. This means unless you’ve got a pair of Bluetooth cans (already an audio trade-off), or are happy to make do with whatever the big-A decides to package in with the handset (be it new earpods or an adaptor of some sort), you’re going to have to invest in a costly pair of Lightning connector-friendly headphones.
Why would Apple do this? It’s reportedly all in aid of making the phone thinner (because 7.1mm is apparently not skinny enough for some of you) and making space for a second bottom-facing speaker. If accurate, this audio port overhaul is going to cause as much uproar as the lack of a complete design refresh and might poke you back into the arms of the iPhone 6S.
While we’re prepared for a safe handset design, screen quality is an area where Apple can’t afford not to improve, so fingers crossed we’re in line for big changes.
At present, the iPhone 6S features a 4.7-inch Retina display with a 1334 x 750 pixel resolution. While this might sound quite high, it’s fairly low compared with the 2560 x 1440 pixel QHD panels found on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and HTC 10.
Although Apple is likely to up its visual game with the iPhone 7, don’t expect it to go toe-to-toe with the likes of the S7 anytime soon, as that’s not its game. It’s far from essential, though, as there’s more to good image quality that just pixel count, and when it comes to contrast levels, accurate colour representation and speedy refresh rates, the iPhone is typically without rival.
Fortunately, the latest leaks have suggested the iPhone 7 screen will make just the right amount of improvements. While retaining its 4.7-inch form, there’s the 5.5-inch iPhone 6S Plus if you like bigger handsets, and the new device is expected to jump to a 1080p Full HD panel, which could be reason enough to upgrade alone.
Screen’s aren’t just about image quality though. Toughness is a big deal too, as anyone who’s spent the last nine months of their contract with a shattered smartphone screen will tell you. Here, the iPhone 7 looks set to move things one, reportedly with the adoption of the newly announced, extra tough Gorilla Glass 5 which will make case-free drops less of a death sentence.
iPhone 7 vs iPhone 6S features & performance: More power inbound
When it comes to power, Apple might not play the same specs race game as the leading Android contingent, but it doesn’t need to. With every iPhone running the same software without fluffy skins, it can ensure it’s more power efficient – but that doesn’t mean a power boost won’t be in store, though.
Apple’s existing 1.84GHz dual-core A9 chip is expected to get an incremental power boost, while further reports have suggested the iPhone 6S’s 2GB of RAM could be on the up, too. Do you really need that though when the 6S is already powerful enough? Difficult call.
More important than all that raw power, though, is that the iPhone 7 looks set to offer a major improvement that users have been calling out for for years: increased storage. Although Samsung-esque expandable storage just ain’t gonna happen (dream on, dreamer), leaks have suggested the entry-level iPhone will jump from the 16GB currently adopted by the iPhone 6S, to a much more appealing 32GB.
Yes, 64GB and even 128GB models are already available, but at a massive premium, and the entry-level 16GB device is just too restrictive for many users. According to claimed “insiders” (love you guys), however, the new 32GB base level iPhone 7 will set a new minimum standard and be joined by 128GB and a new 256GB model for seriously heavy users. Again, that’s a good enough reason to wait until September before upgrading if true.
iPhone 7 vs iPhone 6S camera: Small changes to make a big difference
The iPhone 6S’s 12-megapixel primary camera is one of the best on any existing smartphone. It’s widely expected that Apple will give it a bit of an update, though, patching up its weak points.
Although expected to remain a 12-megapixel offering, a larger sensor has been tipped to be brought in to boost the phone’s after-dark photo skills. Although the iPhone 6S won’t disappoint on the snapping front, this could be the change that takes Apple to new levels.
There’s been much talk about the possible introduction of a new dual-lens snapper, too, but this doesn’t appear to be heading to the standard iPhone 7. Instead, the double-trouble packing camera could be exclusive to the iPhone 7 Plus, or possibly even an all-new third handset iteration: the iPhone 7 Pro. Oh go on, then…
iPhone 7 vs iPhone 6S software: Nothing to separate the two
Unlike Android updates which take an age to filter out between the hundreds of devices doing the rounds, Apple’s iOS upgrades are a much cleaner, swifter affair. As such, on the software front, there’s likely to be very little that will separate the two handsets.
Sure, the iPhone 7 will run the new iOS 10 update direct from the box whereas iPhone 6S owners will have to download it manually – hardly the most strenuous of tasks – but once installed it should create a level playing field.
None of the already confirmed iOS 10 features – we’re talking improved Siri functionality, smarter Photos tagging and search, and the ability to sniff out and warn you about potential spam calls – should be limited to one device. What’s more, with the iPhone 6S on the iOS 10 compatibility list, there’s no excuses for this not to be an even race.
iPhone 7 vs iPhone 6S battery: Staying power on the up
The iPhone 6S’s battery life is decent without being groundbreaking and, according to latest tipsters, the iPhone 7 could be on the receiving end of a bit of a staying-power boost. Those hopes of a phone that will last weeks not days are still misplaced, though – expect an extra hour or two’s life from a single charge.
Is it the biggest update set to be bestowed on Apple’s next-gen blower? No, but it’s nothing to be sniffed at either. That extra hour could be the difference between enjoying a bit of a Facebook sesh on your way home after a night out.
iPhone 7 vs iPhone 6S: The summary
With the iPhone 7 still largely living in the land of make-believe, despite the seemingly endless leaks keeping us in the ball park of reality, it’s obviously too early to pass judgement on whether the iPhone 7 or iPhone 6S would be best suited to your needs. There’s enough evidence, however, to suggest that if you’re eyeing up an upgrade, it’s worth holding off for another seven weeks or so.
Apple is a creature of habit and so an iPhone 7 unveiling during the first week or two of September is all but guaranteed. If you’re able to wait before jumping on a new handset, we’d recommend it. The worst that can happen is you wait and end up deciding that the iPhone 6S is still better suited, but you’ll get the year-old handset on the cheap as Apple and the endless resellers look to clear their 6S stocks.