My iPhone 7

It’s all but certain that the next iPhone will omit the headphone jack. I think this is a serious mistake and many agree.

I want to believe that Apple knows what they are doing; that they will pull off this transition in a classic “Apple” way. I also want to believe that Tim Cook is steering Apple in the right direction; that he believes in more than form over function.

The iPhone is a great phone. But if it wants to stay class leading, it must improve in four key areas: display, battery, camera, and form factor.

Now that we have a date set for the unveiling, here are the areas where Apple needs to improve the iPhone; particularly in the areas of display, battery, camera, and form factor.

This is what iPhone 7 must have.

Display

Apple has some of the highest quality displays on the market. Erudite reviewers from Anandtech to Displaymate can confirm those claims. But the device is losing the battle of spatial resolution and pixel density. I don’t want Apple to shove in a battery-hogging 4K display, but it’s time for a bump.

Specifically, after using a Nexus 5X with a wonderful 1080p screen, the disparity in pixel density and spatial resolution is apparent whenever I see an iPhone. Apple will maintain a 4.7" and 5.5" models this year but that does not mean displays cannot and should not improve. The 4.7” model should come with a 1080p screen; allowing for native Full HD content and a significant boost in pixel density.

Apple has a complex method for displaying content on their high-density phones (here is a helpful visualization by the folks at PaintCode) but since the iPhone 6+, Apple has tripled the internal resolution and then scaled it down to fit on the device’s 1080p display.

I’m hoping the 4.7" model switches to pixel tripling. The guide above shows that Apple already supports this resolution (2001 x 1125). The image is then down-sampled to a common 1080p display, allowing for native full HD video and content.

Meanwhile, the 5.5" model can change to the native resolution panel with no scaling (2208 x 1242), providing more screen space. The pixel densities of both would align to nice, competitive numbers of ~460 pixels per inch.

Camera

The iPhone 6s already has a fine camera: 12 megapixels, fast focusing, great color reproduction, good low-light performance, 4K video, etc. Even still, there is low-hanging fruit for Apple to pick (are these fruit metaphors working for y’all?).

Apple should use a larger physical sensor, even if it stays at 12MP. Combining a larger sensor with a wider aperture (f/2.0), would allow for better low-light performance and faster focusing. Laser-based autofocus has become a marquee feature on many flagship phones and offer boosts in focus speed.

Optical image stabilization (OIS), a technology to compensate for movement when focusing, should become standard across the line and not limited to the plus model. The 7+ will apparently get some new dual camera system. Past attempts at dual camera setups have been rather gimmicky, but Apple may succeed where others have failed.

Again, the iPhone already has a camera that competes with the best of them, but it must continue to push the bleeding edge.

Battery

How long the average iPhone lasts on a single charge is a collection of anecdotal experiences taken as gospel. If your friend’s iPhone has terrible battery life, they all do. Others swear by the iPhone’s “unbeatable” battery life. It falls into one of two categories: remarkably good or frustratingly bad.

For Apple’s part, and most tests bear this out, the iPhone’s battery life is about average. About a day’s worth, not much more. iOS’s power management is dependent on the user’s workflow and results can vary wildly from person to person.

But… I want an iPhone with always-great battery life. I’m paying for a class-leading phone, so I want class leading battery life. At the end of the day, that simply takes a larger battery to do that. Other phones may have batteries 50% larger than iPhone.

Rumors state the next iPhone may have as much as 14% more capacity. That’s a start but I want the iPhone to easily clear one day of work, with room to spare for a long night out. I should not be in desperate need of an outlet by 6PM everyday.

I want class-leading battery life on a class-leading phone

And I should be able to charge it quickly. Fast charging is invaluable on my Nexus 5X, giving my back as much as 50% in 30 minutes. Apple’s old chargers are simply left in the dust by faster USB-C and QuickCharge cables.

Wireless charging will be especially important. The iPhone will simply need more than one way to charge, especially if the Lightning port is pulling dual-duty for charging and audio.

Form Factor

It’s pretty clear that Apple is not changing the design of the iPhone this year. At most, it looks like we are losing a few of those ugly antenna lines.

My major concern is that Apple will try to make the iPhone even thinner than it already is. Why on earth they would do this is beyond me. Bend-gate proved that making a metal phone shell can compromise the structure (Apple had to change to a new alloy and increase thickness in the 6S to fix the issue) and the device thinness makes it harder to grip.

It is my hope that the iPhone 7 is no thinner, or even thicker, than the 6S. The consumer will see no benefit from a thinner phone. Full stop.

Oh, and lastly on design: I really want that ‘space black’ color.

¡Me Gusta!

Grab bag

  • Chip: Naturally, the next iPhone will be faster. The A9 is still competitive with the best on Android, so I’m not too concerned here. Expect ~25% boost in performance with a ~10% boost in efficiency due to an improved silicon process. More RAM would also be appreciated.
  • Wireless: Nothing special here. Expect faster LTE and WiFi using newer chips. Rumors state that Apple might use Intel baseband chips instead of Qualcomm’s solutions. Let’s hope they are performant.
  • More on the display: my resolution boost is probably a pipe dream but the least Apple can do is a switch to the DCI-P3 color gamut. It makes a stark difference on the iPad Pro.
  • Storage: Apple continuing to offer a 16GB phone for $649 is absurd. 32GB must be the entry storage amount in 2016.
  • Sales model: I’m still holding out hope that this might be the year Apple starts selling a single, global model powered by the Apple SIM. Every year they have gotten closer and closer to a single model, maybe this will be that year.

If Apple could deliver on all of these “must-haves” then, and really only then, will the iPhone 7 be worth our time, especially without the headphone jack. Otherwise, we’ll have to wait for this mystical 10th anniversary phone next year.