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iPhone 7: Top 5 Rumors We're Following

Apple is reportedly testing five prototypes of the iPhone 7. Here are five rumors circulating about the model predicted to debut next year.

iPad Pro Review: Bigger Isn't Always Better
iPad Pro Review: Bigger Isn't Always Better
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It hasn't been long since the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus hit the market, but the rumor mill is already churning with whispers of what Apple will include (and eliminate) in the iPhone 7.

Apple is exploring a range of new technologies for the next edition of iPhone, suggests GforGames. The blog, which cites Chinese sources, describes how Apple has at least five iPhone 7 prototypes with varying features.

Industry watchers are expecting some major changes in the 2016 iPhone. The S-branded upgrades, which are usually minor, brought 3D Touch, 12MP camera with 4K video, A9 processor and CAT 6 LTE. The latest iPhones are powerful, yes, but the iPhone 7 is predicted to deliver more drastic changes.

It's too early to say anything with certainty, especially in relation to a company as notoriously secretive as Apple. That said, it's interesting to ponder which new technologies will be in the hands of consumers one year from now.

[iOS 9 adoption hits 70%, leaving Android 6 in the dust.]

Here are five rumors circulating about the iPhone 7:

Much thinner design

Apple's smartphone is slimming down with each release, and the iPhone 7 is no exception. The company is reportedly working on a design that will be between 6.0- and 6.5-mm thick, according to AppleInsider.

Because the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are already so slim, reports of an even thinner device have prompted concerns about how thinness will interfere with the phone's functionality. Battery life is one key feature that could be affected by a smaller design.

3.5-mm headphone jack eliminated

Apple's quest to make the iPhone thinner than its existing model will involve some hardware alterations. A report from Japanese tech website Mac Otakara cites a "reliable" anonymous source who claims Apple is planning to swap out its 3.5-mm headphone jack and instead use its Lightning port for audio output.

The 3.5-mm headphone jack is the standard model found in smartphones and other electronics throughout the world. This switch would require headphone owners to buy an adapter, or headphone manufacturers to build a new type of connector, for the new iPhone 7.

Alternatively, Mac Otakara noted the iPhone 7 would include EarPods compatible with the Lightning connector. It would also support third-party Bluetooth and Lightning-based headphones.

On the other hand, some rumors suggest the iPhone 7 won't have a Lightning port at all. The GforGames blog post claims one prototype includes a USB Type-C connector that's compatible with headsets. Apple has already included the all-in-one USB-C port in the newest MacBook model.

Waterproof design

Apple is rumored to be creating a waterproof design for the iPhone 7. A patent application posted on AppleInsider indicates Apple has created a shutter system that blocks access to port openings for the speaker, microphone and other ports on the device. The electronically controlled shutters are placed over vulnerable openings and can quickly block them from damage.

(Image: Apple)

(Image: Apple)

The shutters would safeguard ports when they are not in use, which would prevent liquid or dust from getting in. Such a design change could potentially save iPhone owners from expensive repairs or phone replacements.

On-screen fingerprint scanner

Most current iPhone users have a Home button that doubles as a fingerprint reader for additional security. Another patent suggests Apple is testing fingerprint recognition for its display. If true, the rumor would mean its next iPhone would have an edge-to-edge screen and eliminate the Home button entirely. This would be a welcome change for critics who think Apple should cut back on the iPhone's bezels to maximize its display.

Wireless charging

Another iPhone 7 spec model reportedly uses wireless charging, another change that would make sense with the thinner design. While it is a possibility, there is no indication of whether Apple would plan to use an existing model for wireless charging, or if it has created its own.

Which of these iPhone 7 features would you like to see become reality? Is there an idea you think Apple should toss? What would you like the see most in the next iPhone? We'd like to hear your thoughts.

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Kelly is an associate editor for InformationWeek. She most recently reported on financial tech for Insurance & Technology, before which she was a staff writer for InformationWeek and InformationWeek Education. When she's not catching up on the latest in tech, Kelly enjoys ... View Full Bio

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tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
3/3/2016 | 10:18:00 AM
Re: charging port
You are right, the phones do look naked without the case. I still see folks in the subway using premium phones without a case and cannot believe it. One reason i waited so long to get an iPhone was because i was scared the thing would bust after one drop-not that i drop my phone often but it has happened. The Blackberry's and Galaxy phones i had were rugged even without the case. Thankfully I never have cracked a phone! And now with the iPhone i have a strong Otterbox case.
soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
2/21/2016 | 6:51:39 PM
Re: charging port
Yes, the cases are key. I won't let my kids walk around for more than a few minutes without the cases. The phone looks nake without it! lol Also, one drop and....I'm out hundreds : /
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
2/17/2016 | 4:28:48 PM
Re: charging port
They really are poor quality. Hard to believe because the phone and the watch and iPad are of high quality. On top of that they charge a lot of money for the chargers and wires. I don't care how thin the phone gets, i am still always going to buy an Otter case to protect the device. They are too expensive to chuck out.
soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
2/17/2016 | 12:00:25 PM
Re: charging port
I think you could actually go pretty thin, depending on the materials you use. The Apple headphones and chargers are crap because they are made of crap plastic. 
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
2/15/2016 | 5:43:35 AM
Re: charging port
And Apple has already purchased the Beats headphones so they have an interest in promoting headphone use with their products. How thin can you actually make a phone without it easily breaking?
soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
1/5/2016 | 3:57:57 PM
Re: charging port
 i cannot see headset manufacturers just walking away from Apple

--Good point. After all, some of Apple accessories are horrible, throw away items. The chargers break way too easily and the headphones break apart, too. I would see assessories companies sticking around just because they can easily improve on Apple accessories.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
1/5/2016 | 12:20:19 PM
Re: charging port
Exactly. Today technology is not an "investment". You only get a few years out of the products and then move on. I think with the headphone jack, there will either be Bluetooth or a Lightning jack solution. Bose's top line QC25's already have a cable that is not permanently affixed to the headphones so it would just be a mattter of buying a Lightning cable. With Apple looking to OLED screens, removing the home button and no dedicated headphone jack, it appears they are looking to get a phone as thin as possible. Probably to take us to the next generation of phones that will be really different. Time will tell but tech marches on.
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
1/5/2016 | 10:58:04 AM
Re: charging port
@tjgkg,

I share your sentiment, since I had boxes of obsolete adapters that I've ended up simply throwing away. But simply due to how technology progresses I think it'll be inevitable. We saw the same ocurrance when Digital TVs offset analog (HDMI), when the Iphone lightning cable came out and all third party docks when caputs (yes, there was an adapter, but it was a hit and miss)

I think it's just the nature of the beast. Other competitors like Sony and Samsung would be hesistant to get rid of the 3.5mm jack simply because they have product portfolios that utilize it greatly, but sooner or later something will change (perhaps they'll adopt a 2.5mm jack?)
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
1/5/2016 | 10:22:09 AM
Re: Nobody needs thinner iPhone
@soozyg: I remember those clunkers too! Things have changed for the better.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
1/5/2016 | 10:20:09 AM
Re: charging port
@soozyg: Yes Bluetooth is the wireless option. But from what i had read, Apple was going to make the Lightning port a USB-C port. This way you can stick corded headphones into the Lightning port-provided they have the proper connector. Someone had posted that Apple might be doing this more to get people to buy their Beats headsets than to reduce footprint. I think that is quite possible but i cannot see headset manufacturers just walking away from Apple. Not many people use wireless headphones so Apple will have to make some accomodation to allow people to "plug in". To me the logical way to do this is through the Lightning port.
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