iPhone 7: How Will it Be Different From the iPhone 6?

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 27: The Apple Store, Upper West Side is shown July 27, 2016 in New York City. On Tuesday, Apple reported a steep slump in revenue and profit, but beat analyst projections. The maker of the iPhone and iPad reported third-quarter profit sliding 27 percent to $1.42 per share, according to published reports. Analysts had expected $1.39 per share, according to the reports. Apple's share price today jumped on forward guidance from the company.

The Apple store | Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Whether you’re an avid reader of Apple-focused blogs and make a point of staying up-to-date on the latest news to come out of the Apple rumor mill, or you’re a casual iPhone user who doesn’t always remember which iPhone model you’re using, it can be pretty confusing to keep all the different iPhone models straight. There’s a new iPhone every year, which means that it often feels like it’s more often a bad time to buy an iPhone than not, and each new generation makes improvements in some areas while keeping other specifications and features the same as the previous model.

There’s a segment of the internet that loves nothing more than trying to figure out what’s going to be included in the next iPhone before it launches. So by the time there’s a new iPhone coming out, like the iPhone 7 that Apple is expected to launch in September, there have been countless blog posts written about it, and innumerable rumors that have been revised and re-evaluated over and over again. That makes it difficult to figure out exactly how an upcoming iPhone is going to compare to another model, particularly if that model is a year or two back in Apple’s lineup.

But if you’re wondering how the upcoming iPhone 7 is going to compare to the iPhone 6, you’re in luck. We’ve done the dirty work for you, digging up all of the rumors about what the iPhone 7 is going to include and comparing them with the specifications and features that Apple chose for the iPhone 6. Read on to check out how the iPhone 7 will be different from the iPhone 6.

iPhone 6 features vs. iPhone 7 features

iPhones at the Apple store

iPhones at the Apple store | S. Alemdar/Getty Images

Camera: The iPhone 7 is expected to feature some pretty impressive camera updates, including a possible dual-camera design for the iPhone 7 Plus. KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reports that two versions of the iPhone 7 Plus are in development, one with a single rear-facing camera and the other with a dual-camera design, and emphasizes that the dual camera system will be exclusive to the iPhone 7 Plus. Kuo also thinks that the iPhone 7 Plus could be equipped with 3GB of RAM to support the camera system. Nonetheless, it’s possible that even the smaller iPhone 7 could gain optical image stabilization, a feature that’s only been integrated into the iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6s Plus, not their smaller counterparts. The iPhone 6’s camera sounds pretty lackluster in comparison; it’s an 8MP iSight camera with maximum f/2.2 aperture, which doesn’t come close even to the iPhone 6s’s 12MP camera with 4K video abilities and an improved sensor with 50% more pixels.

Water and dust resistance: Apple has filed a patent application for technology that could make the iPhone 7 waterproof, with self-healing covers over the device’s ports. Perhaps a more likely scenario is that the iPhone 7 will get improved water and dust resistance. Nonetheless, Apple unofficially began increasing the iPhone’s water resistance with the iPhone 6s, and whether officially or not, the iPhone 7 will likely be able to stand up to a lot more abuse than the iPhone 6.

Charging: Because Apple introduced wireless charging for the Apple Watch and because Qualcomm has demonstrated wireless charging tech that works for metal devices like the iPhone, plenty of people are hoping for wireless charging for the iPhone 7. However, recent reports indicate that wireless charging won’t make it to the iPhone lineup until 2017 or later, though improved quick charging support is a possibility for the iPhone 7. The iPhone 6, on the other hand, features standard charging via USB or a power adapter — and charges slowly enough that CultofMac advises users to switch out the 5-watt iPhone charger for the 12-watt iPad charger.

Screen: Just like the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6 before it, the iPhone 7 has been the subject of rumors about a sapphire glass display. Another possibility for a durable screen material is Corning’s new Project Fire. Apple currently uses LED-backlit LCD displays for iPhones’ Retina displays, and while it’s been reported that iPhones could gain OLED displays starting in 2018 or even 2017, that’s very unlikely to happen on 2016’s iPhone 7. For the time being, the new iPhone’s screen may not be too different from that of the iPhone 6, which is an LCD display with a resolution of 1334 x 750 pixels on the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 1920 x 1080 pixels on the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. While the iPhone 6 Plus and the iPhone 6s Plus have 401 pixels per inch, instead of the 326ppi of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s, it’s unclear whether this year’s iPhones will get a higher screen resolution.

iPhone 6 design vs. iPhone 7 design

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Headphone jack: It’s been widely rumored that Apple plans to drop the legacy 3.5mm headphone jack with the iPhone 7. The company is expected to replace the traditional EarPods with Lightning or Bluetooth-enabled headphones, and the consensus is currently that Apple will include a Lightning-equipped pair of headphones with the iPhone 7 and offer a wireless set of headphones called AirPods as an optional accessory for the iPhone 7. This would be a big change over the iPhone 6 — one that you’re likely to feel strongly about if you have a favorite pair of wired headphones.

Home button: Some rumors have indicated that the iPhone 7 could go without a physical home button, which would enable Apple to shrink the top and bottom bezels. To do that, though, it would need to integrate the Touch ID sensor into the iPhone elsewhere. For the iPhone 7, it’s more likely that Apple will introduce a capacitive home button that doesn’t click, but will respond with haptic feedback instead. When you use the phone, that won’t feel significantly different than the iPhone 6’s home button, though it’s worth noting that the faster Touch ID system Apple introduced with the iPhone 6s makes the fingerprint authentication system on the iPhone 6 feel very, very slow by comparison.

Antenna bands: It’s been speculated that the antenna bands seen on the back of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s could be absent from the iPhone 7’s design. Reports indicate that the iPhone 7 design will look very similar to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s, except that its rear camera will sit flush with the back casing thanks to a thinner camera module, and that the antenna bands across the rear will disappear, though those around the top and bottom edges could remain. If you use a case on your phone, chances are good that the antenna bands on the back of the iPhone 6 don’t bother you. But if they do, then the iPhone 7 may make you (and plenty of iPhone users) very happy.

Colors: Rumor has it that the iPhone 7 will come in the same silver, gold, and rose gold as the iPhone 6s, plus a darker space gray that’s closer to black than the shade seen on the iPhone 6s. The iPhone 6, on the other hand, is offered in silver, space gray, and gold, since the rose gold option wasn’t introduced until the launch of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

iPhone 6 specifications vs. iPhone 7 specifications

Testing an iPhone at the Apple store

Testing an iPhone at the Apple store | John Gress/Getty Images

Size: In keeping with the trend toward an ever-thinner iPhone, it’s even reported that the iPhone 7 could be 1mm thinner than the iPhone 6s — a phone that’s actually an impossible-to-notice 0.01 inches thicker than the iPhone 6. Beyond that, we’re expecting Apple to retain the sizes introduced with the iPhone 6 (so look for a 4.7-inch iPhone 7 and a 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus).

Processor: With the iPhone 7, Apple is introducing a new A10 chip, a processor that may integrate as many as six cores, though many think it’s more likely that Apple will focus on GPU improvements. The iPhone 6s brought an upgrade in RAM from the 1GB seen on the iPhone 6 to 2GB, so it’s possible that the iPhone 7 could bring a further upgrade, from 2GB to 3GB or even 4GB of RAM. The iPhone 7 Plus, specifically, could be equipped with 3GB of RAM to power a dual-camera system. While it’s been reported that this year’s A10 chip will be only slightly faster than last year’s A9 chip, the A9 is about 70% faster than the A8 that powers the iPhone 6.

Storage: Even though Apple has a strong financial incentive to keep making 16GB iPhones and retain the 16GB/64GB/128GB lineup, it’s been reported that the iPhone 7 will start at 32GB of storage, and that Apple will also introduce a 256GB model. That would make a big difference for users who opted for a 16GB iPhone 6 and have been trying to figure out how to deal with the meager storage ever since.

Battery life: The battery life of the iPhone 7 may be slightly better than that offered by the iPhone 6s, but Apple’s decisions have made it clear that Apple doesn’t want to make sacrifices in other areas to prioritize a longer-lasting battery. Nonetheless, rumor has it that the iPhone 7’s battery could have a capacity of 7.04 watt-hours — which means it would be slightly larger in capacity than that of the iPhone 6s (which has a capacity of 6.61 watt-hours) and about identical to that of the iPhone 6 (which has a capacity of 7.01 watt-hours).

iPhone 6 software vs. iPhone 7 software

Waiting in line at the Apple store

Waiting in line at the Apple store | Bryan Thomas/Getty Images

iOS 10: Another big difference between the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 7 is the software that it runs out of the box. While the iPhone 6 runs iOS 8 out of the box, the iPhone 7 will be equipped with iOS 10, a much more advanced version of Apple’s mobile operating system. While Apple will introduce plenty of new hardware features on the iPhone 7 release date, it will also add new software features with iOS 10. With iOS 10, you can expect features including updates to Messages, a redesigned Maps app, plus better navigation and notifications and brand-new Siri capabilities. Siri is gaining a variety of new capabilities in iOS 10 and macOS Sierra, including the ability to tap into third-party apps, and new ways to do more without collecting more user data.

Security: Apple’s battle with the FBI has brought iPhone security into the spotlight, and some recent reports have indicated that Apple will place a new focus on security with the iPhone 7. Apple is reportedly working on improving the encryption of users’ iCloud data and developing measures to improve the security of future iPhones.

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