2016 is proving to be an especially exciting year for Apple fans. Though we’re only a few months into the year, we’re reportedly just weeks away from the launch of a new iPhone and iPad. Each week, there are more and more rumors about the devices that the company will unveil at an event in March, plus more reports about the iPhone 7 and other products that the company will introduce this year and beyond. Read on to catch up on the most exciting Apple rumors to surface this week.
1. Apple may launch a new iPhone and iPad the week of March 21
As we reported recently, the ever-active rumor mill is spreading more details about the new iPhone and iPad that Apple is expected to launch this month as the week of the event draws closer. The new 4-inch iPhone, which has been referred to as the iPhone 6c, the iPhone 5se, and now the iPhone SE, is expected to look similar to the iPhone 5s, and to feature an A9 processor, the M9 motion coprocessor, the ability to take Live Photos (even though it won’t feature a 3D Touch screen), an NFC chip for Apple Pay, and Apple’s latest hardware for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular connectivity. Apple is likely to offer the iPhone SE in 16GB and 64GB capacities, and to add the Rose Gold option that it introduced with the iPhone 6s.
John Brownlee reports for Cult of Mac that the iPhone SE could be a great iPhone for mobile photography enthusiasts, since KGI Securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo is reporting that the new 4-inch iPhone will feature a 12MP camera, instead of the 8MP camera that was previously expected. Kuo expects that the iPhone SE will be equipped with a camera system similar to the one used in the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, instead of using the same one as the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 6. As Brownlee notes, the iPhone SE sounds more like a 4-inch iPhone 6s than an updated iPhone 5s.
2. The new iPad may be a smaller iPad Pro, not an iPad Air
Mark Gurman reports for 9to5Mac that the iPad Apple will unveil at its March event will be a 9.7-inch iPad Pro, not a new iPad Air. This smaller iPad Pro would have features and specifications that are nearly identical to those of the larger model, and is expected to feature the A9X processor and RAM upgrades that Apple introduced with the 12.9-inch model. It would also feature the updated display technology that would enable it to support the Apple Pencil, and Apple is expected to make a smaller Smart Keyboard cover, which would necessitate adding the Smart Connector to the new iPad.
Gurman reports that the new 9.7-inch model could feature a 12MP rear-facing camera, a significant upgrade over the 8MP camera included in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro that began shipping in November. Gurman notes that because the smaller display would make for a more portable iPad, it makes sense for Apple to improve the photography capabilities of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and it’s possible that the new model could even record 4K video. Like other recent iPad models, the new version of the iPad Pro is expected to include a FaceTime HD camera on its front.
3. The Messages app for iOS could get more secure
Jon Russell reports for TechCrunch that Apple has hired Frederic Jacobs, the Switzerland-based developer behind Signal, the favorite messaging of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Jacobs will be working on Apple’s CoreOS security team, and while it’s unclear so far what his role will be, the hire makes sense given Apple’s renewed focus on security, which will see it working to remove the passcode-free recovery option from future iPhones and begin encrypting iPhone backups on iCloud.
As Brian Barrett reports for Wired, Jacobs spent two and a half years as a security engineer at Open Whisper Systems, the creator of Signal, and while he was there, worked on end-to-end encryption for the Signal iOS app that Snowden has said he uses everyday. The app is one of the few that gets high marks from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and hiring one of its developers may be a good way to improve the security of Apple’s own messaging tools. Experts have noted that messages protected with Signal’s end-to-end encryption are largely safe, even from forensics tools.
4. The iPhone 7 may be the same size as the iPhone 6s
According to Apple Insider, the latest rumors out of East Asia seem to confirm that Apple’s next-generation iPhone 7 will have the same dimensions as the iPhone 6s. A report from the Japanese blog Mac Otakara indicates that the iPhone 7’s height and width will mirror those of the iPhone 6s, and the device will feature the same level of water resistance offered by the existing design. The iPhone 7’s rear-facing camera is expected to lie flush with the metal casing, though the report is unclear on whether the phone will integrate a dual-lens camera system, claiming that the smaller iPhone 7 won’t while the larger iPhone 7 Plus might.
According to Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPhone 7 will be 1 millimeter thinner than the iPhone 6s, which Chance Miller reports for 9to5Mac would make it the same thickness as the iPod Touch. The report also indicates that the device won’t feature a 3.5 millimeter headphone jack, which could help to reduce the thickness of the phone. The iPhone 7 is rumored to be the first iPhone to feature stereo speakers, and it could be equipped with a thinner Lightning Port than has been seen on previous devices.
5. Apple could introduce an OLED iPhone in 2017
Mikey Campbell reports for Apple Insider that Apple is planning to incorporate OLED display technology into its iPhone lineup in 2017, a year earlier than previous estimates had indicated. The technology is expected to be limited to specific high-end models due to initial supply constraints. When it makes the switch, Apple is likely to take advantage of the unique properties of OLED screens, which can conform to curved designs. However, it’s unclear whether what the report characterizes as a last-minute decision to launch OLED iPhones in 2017 will give Apple enough time to implement an unconventional design.
Chance Miller reports for 9to5Mac that Apple may be speeding up the process of transitioning to OLED displays to reinvigorate iPhone sales and to encourage users to upgrade to a new iPhone more often. OLED displays can be thinner than LCD technology, and allow for deeper blacks and more vivid colors. OLED panels are also more power-efficient than LCDs, and to many users who think the iPhone’s battery doesn’t last long enough, that could make a difference.