The following features are pretty much assured. Apple never, ever comments on its phones before they debut, but if any of these things don’t happen, I’ll be shocked.
No Headphone Jack on the iPhone 7
Say good-bye to the 3.5mm headphone jack, which has been around for over five decades. If you use an iPhone 7, you’ll listen to music over Bluetooth or through the same Lightning port that you use to charge your phone.
It’s tempting to say this will be like when iPhone 5 owners were forced to ditch all their old chargers for Lightning ones. People complained, but the switch was eventually made without damage to Apple’s iPhone sales. But chargers are largely stationary items — you keep one at your desk, one by your bedside, maybe one for the kitchen or living room. Maybe you carry an extra charger in your bag, just in case, but even then you’re likely charging it from a wall outlet.
Headphones are for everywhere and are meant to be mobile. Finding yourself without a pair while on the subway or while on a run can be as painful as forgetting your keys at home, and wireless headphones have the nasty habit of running out of battery life at the worst times. Apple will almost certainly include a pair of wireless earbuds with the iPhone (amusingly called, per regulatory filings, “Air Buds”), but this will make billions of headphones with 3.5 mm jacks largely useless for iPhone 7 users (there are adapters, but they seem, ah, not ideal). Unless Apple also rolls out a new touchscreen that will give you a small but quite painful electric shock every time you touch it in the wrong way, this is going to be the most controversial part of the new iPhone.
Still, Apple has been at the forefront of removing ports when they deem them no longer necessary. They got rid of CD-DVD drives years before others, and continue to remove ports from their laptops if they consider them extraneous. It’s certainly within the realm of possibility that, by 2018, the idea that we constantly had cords running from our ears to our phones will seem just as silly as the idea of loading a program onto your computer from 17 CDs.
The Plus Model Remains
There were early rumors that Apple may end the bifurcation of the iPhone into a regular model and a plus model, but it now seems all but certain that an iPhone 7 and an iPhone 7 Plus will both be offered. Current leaked specs show the regular iPhone 7 with a 4.7-inch display, and an iPhone Plus with a 5.5-inch display. The specs for both roughly mirror what you see in the current iPhone 6s versus iPhone 6s Pluses — more battery, more RAM, better camera — all at a higher price.
The iPhone 7 Plus Will Have Dual Rear-Facing Cameras
Apple isn’t the first to market with this idea — the HTC M8, the LG G5, and others have done dual-mounted cameras before — but the invitation that Apple sent out offers a good idea of what they see as the main advantage of having two cameras on the back of your phone.
The bokeh effect (which is just a fancy term for lights that are out of focus and give that pleasant, hazy feel you see in films and pro photographers’ pictures) means that photos taken with the iPhone 7 Plus are about to take a big leap forward. If you can pull off bokeh, it usually means you have a pricey camera capable of tightly focusing on one object and leaving everything else in that filmic blur. Having spent some time with LG’s G5’s dual cameras, I can testify that the two cameras make it much easier to pull off shots like that, plus take crisp and clear low-light photos, take wide-angle shots, and even do zoomed-in snaps that won’t make your pics look like they were taken with a Motorola RAZR circa 2005.
No Other Major Form Factor Changes
Every leaked photo shows that the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are going to largely continue on with the rounded edges that we saw reintroduced in the iPhone 6, after a few generations of sharper edges. The iPhone 7 is going to be a lot more powerful than the previous generation — the iPhone 7 Plus is rumored to carry a hefty 3GB of RAM and an A10 processor, which doesn’t place it at the top of the market, but also makes it no slouch — but they won’t look significantly different than the current generation.