Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 7 rumors took a turn this week as people looked beyond the next smartphone from Apple to the firm’s releases in the distant future. Rumors about the firm’s future iPhone doing away with the home button have lead to all sorts of imagination fueled ideas about almost every phone bar the iPhone 7.
Digitimes reported earlier this week that Apple was working on a design that would take the home button away from iPhone users, but the change won’t happen until many years down the road. Digitimes has a spotty record with iPhone 7 rumors, and has had a spotty record with all sorts of Apple rumors for many years. The paper’s view into the distant future, then, shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
Looking past the iPhone 7
The Digitimes rumor says that an iPhone with no home button will appear in 2017 or later. Removing the physical button could result in a phone that’s smaller and lighter and one that has little or no bezel to frame the screen. The iPhone will have a TouchID sensor that works right through the screen rather than through the home button.
AppleInsider’s Neil Hughes repeated the rumor and said that a “source who in the past has correctly shared information about Apple’s future product plans” had brought it to their attention.
The change would bring many technical challenges to those designing the iPhone. Making TouchID work through the screen is going to be hard, as is making the device feel just as good without the hardware feedback of a physical button.
With Force Touch, Apple is looking forward to beating that second problem. The latest iPhone 7 rumors say that the new tech will be at the heart of the next phone from Tim Cook’s team. Those rumors are becoming more and more concrete as one analyst with a solid rep repeats them time and time again as the iPhone 7 design nears a finish.
iPhone 7 rumors become more concrete
Ming Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who once wrote for Digitimes, has revealed his inside info on the next iPhone in many reports in recent weeks and months.
Mr. Kuo is known for the accuracy of his Apple rumors, and it’s likely that his picture of the iPhone 7 and his ideas on the iPhone 7 release date, are more or less a good picture of the phone that we will eventually get from Apple.
Mr. Kuo says that the iPhone 7 will be a little bigger and thicker than the iPhone 6 as a result of the Force Touch feature that will be added to the device. That feature will be the basis for an eventual iPhone without a home button.
He also reckons that Apple will shake up the colors available on the iPhone to make them more in line with the picture painted by the Apple Watch, and use the 7000 series aluminum that was used in the construction of some Apple Watch models.
On top of that Kuo says that the iPhone 7 will have a 12 MP camera, and the device will be released for the first time in October of this year.
Future rumors eclipse the iPhone 7
The tech world has learned to trust Mr. Kuo, and his description of the iPhone 7 is complete enough to make most other rumors seem uninformed or dull. That has lead to a surge this week in rumors about the nature of the Apple releases beyond the iPhone 7.
The loss of the home button and the other tweaks coming from the Apple Watch have given commentators some ideas about where Apple is going to go with the future design of its smartphones. Michael Simon of MacWorld weighed in with his outlook for designs beyond the iPhone 7 in a piece published on June 26.
He says that Apple is already on a path toward changing the home screen to make an iPhone without the home button work. “The new proactive search page in iOS 9 is the first step, and it could become a pivotal screen,” he writes. As the system learns what apps you use and when you use them “Apps you don’t regularly use will stay out of your way, and the home button would be less important to navigation.”
Simon also says that another Apple Watch OS feature could make its way onto the iPhone, “With Glances on my watch, I can get a day’s worth of information without needing to launch any of the apps.” It’s quicker than finding some kinds of data on an iPhone, says Simon, and it may be a way to change the way the iPhone delivers info.
“The idea of an iPhone 7 without a physical home button doesn’t seem so far-fetched,” after Apple showed what it could do with the Watch says Simon, and that might have a huge influence on the firm’s thinking as it drives forward with the creation of a new iPhone world.
Crazy ideas for the iPhone
A lot of other rumors that aren’t likely to be confirmed by Apple with the iPhone 7 are also making the rounds this week after Mr. Kuo’s idea of the iPhone 7 was brought to bear on the rumors world.
Taiwan’s Business Weekly reported that Apple will put two cameras in the new smartphone in order to improve image quality. Apple is likely working on a system like that, but the firm is not going to be putting it in metal this Fall.
Rumors that Apple is going to put a flexible screen in the iPhone are also doing the rounds, but remain the stuff of pure speculation. Todd Haselton over at TechnoBuffalo recounted rumors first published by Business Korea that promised such a feature in the years ahead. A source told the news outlet “It is very likely that the first flexible iPhone may be introduced in 2018, as Apple’s top-tier display suppliers are working on it.”
Waiting for the iPhone 7
AppleInsider says that the iPhone 7 will have a home button, and Mr. Kuo comments on the next big release for Apple don’t point to anything quite as dramatic as getting rid of the feature. It will be 2017 and the iPhone 8 or 9 that actually brings the release of a smartphone without a home button.
For those that really hate the site of that round button in the middle of their device, there’s already a huge range of Android phones that do away with a hardware button and put their home buttons on screen. These buttons are able to disappear inside apps.
That’s not likely the solution that Apple is looking at, and it’s not likely the kind of thing that its users want in their next iPhone either.
As the story of the iPhone 7 becomes more solid and concrete, expect more fantastic stories about the iPhone 9 to arrive. With no home button, a flexible screen and two camera lenses, what we end up with in 2018 won’t even remind us of the iPhone we get this year. That’s assuming those rumors are right, however, and they very seldom are.