The iPhone 7 WILL ship with a Lightning-to-3.5mm headphone adaptor - plus release date, price and specs rumours

Here's everything you need to know about the iPhone 7, which should launch September 2016

Will the iPhone 7 have a headphone socket or not, has been the one question that's rather dominated the lead up to the phone's release later in the year. Initially, it was thought that Apple was ready to ditch the 3.5mm socket as the new phone was supposed to be so thin that there simply wasn't space. Then, it came out that the iPhone 7 was actually just going to look like the iPhone 6S, so it did have space for a headphone socket. And then, it was rumoured that even though there was space for a headphone socket, Apple just wanted to get rid of it and would force everyone into using Lightning-connected headphones for wired models (with an adaptor an option) or switching to Bluetooth.

Now, I have what will hopefully be the final word in what hasn't been a particularly interesting saga. According to the reliable Macotakara, the headphone port is dead, but Apple will not be shipping Lightning-enabled EarPods, instead shipping models with a 3.5mm adaptor (as usual), but slipping a Lightning-to-3.5mm adaptor into the box, so that people can use their existing headphones without having to fork out extra for the adaptor.

On top of that, the iPhone 7 is set to have row of holes on both the left and right sides of the bottom, and there will be two speakers instead of the current one. According to Macotakara, the system will not be stereo, but will be monaural system instead. I'm assuming here that the dual speakers will at least make the phone louder and clearer to understand. Let this be the last time we hear about the headphone/lack of headphone situation, and hopefully more interesting things will now leak.

What you need to know, quickly

Need the information fast - here's everything you need in a quick, bite-sized digest. Obviously, everything here is based on unconfirmed rumours, so things can change quickly, but the below is, at least, a quick view of how things stand at this point in time.

What is it?

Apple's brand new smartphone, complete with a new design and the successor to 2015's iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus

When is it out?

If Apple sticks to its normal release schedule, and it tends to, then we should see it late September 2016

What's new?

The phones are likely to look very similar to the current model, but will have slightly bigger batteries, while a dual-lens camera looks set to appear on at least on model

In Detail

iPhone 7 release date

If there's been one reliable thing about Apple's iPhone launches, it's that they happen just once a year. Given that the iPhone 6S was launched in September 2015, a year after the iPhone 6, it doesn't take a genius to work out that the iPhone 7 will come in September 2016.

Design

When Apple first moved to two new models of iPhone, the regular size and the larger Plus, the differences between the two were rather minor. With the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, the bigger model looks as though it's going to be majorly different to its little brother. In photos of a case, obtained by 9to5Mac, the iPhone 7 Plus, complete with renders of the phone, the Plus model has a larger camera cut out for the dual-camera design. The flash and microphone have been moved into a horizontal line with the lenses, too. The regular iPhone 7 model doesn't have this mode, sticking with a regular camera instead. This will certainly make the iPhone 7 Plus a more premium product and, most likely, the one of choice for those that want the best camera.

iPhone 7 Plus case leak

The images also show that the iPhone 7 Plus will have the Smart Connector, as used with the iPad Pro. This has been rumoured before, but I'm totally at a loss as to what it could be used for: a smart keyboard cover on this size device really doesn't seem very useful and, at the moment, there are no other devices that use this connector. There's a chance that this connector will be removed, with some rumours suggesting that the production model has ditched this already. We'll have to wait for more information to find out for certain. Neither case shows a headphone socket, but that's not a forgone conclusion. Check out the information below for more on the headphone saga.

Images of the iPhone 7 leak

Further evidence that the iPhone 7 won't be too different to the iPhone 6S or iPhone 6S Plus has come out, with MobiPicker showing a shot of what's allegedly Apple's new phone. Users of the existing iPhone will recognise the phone immediately, as there's very little different. The image reinforces the rumours that have leaked so far. Aside from the similar design, Apple is said to have redesigned the antenna strips, making the rear one continuous sheet of metal; with the existing design, the iPhone has plastic strips breaking up the design.

Intriguingly, the camera is shown having a protective metal ring around it, which suggests that Apple has not managed to find a way to remove the bump altogether. There's a second hole on between the flash and the camera lens, too. There are suggestions that this is for laser focus, but we'll have to wait to see for certain.

iPhone 7 leaked shot showing camera bump

Display

It looks as though we're going to be stuck with LCD displays with the same size and resolution as today. That's a 4.7in model with a resolution of 1,334x720 and a 5.5in model with a resolution of 1,920x1,080. Now, the resolution doesn't bother me and the iPhone doesn't need more resolution: the displays really are sharp enough. However, a move to OLED would improve quality and help battery life. 

Sadly, the iPhone 7 will definitely not get OLED. We're too far along and the supply chain has already kicked into gear in order to manufacture enough models for the September release date. But, we most likely won't have to wait until 2018 and the iPhone 8 for OLED, as Apple has apparently boosted its OLED plans and wants to release an iPhone (most likely the iPhone 7S) with an OLED display in 2017. According to Apple Insider, Apple is way ahead of schedule and the improved display technology should be with us a lot sooner than we expected. 

Bigger battery incoming

One of the minor issues that Expert Reviews had with the iPhone 6S was that it had a smaller battery than the iPhone 6, which meant that it lasted less time from a single charge in our tests. Well, Apple has clearly taken complaints from users to heart and for the iPhone 7 it's upping the battery size. Leaked shots were featured on MacRumours allegedly show the new battery for the iPhone 7. You can clearly see in the image below that the battery is a 7.04watt-hour model, which is up from the 6.61watt-hour model on the iPhone 6S and similar to the 7.01watt-hour battery on the iPhone 6.

Given that the iPhone 7 is said to be Apple's thinnest phone yet, how has it found more room inside the case? Well, there's certainly some room saved by ditching the headphone socket and using the Lightning adaptor only. On top of that, continued miniaturisation of components, such as the processor, will leave more room inside the case. Finally, there's a good chance that Apple will have worked out how to save room with its 3D Touch components, too. It's hard to say what this will do for battery life: I'd expect at least the same as from the iPhone 6 (around 13hours in our video playback test), but you may see better performance due to a more efficient processor and OS.

iPhone 7 leaked battery

Camera

Dual-lens cameras are said to be coming to the phones, although whether it's all models or just the high-end 'Pro', we don't know. We've got an idea of what to expect, thanks to information from LinX, which Apple bought for $20m, according to the Wall Street Journal. This startup has been developing sensors that it says will bring SLR-like quality to smartphones. It has developed sensor arrays that use multiple sensors, alongside bespoke optics and image processing, to improve image quality. 

Using multiple sensors means that LinX sensors can measure depth, which can help speed up auto-focus or simply let you focus the shot after you've taken it, as we've seen before with HTC's Duo camera. It's also possible for the cameras to scan objects in 3D and give accurate measurements for objects, too. We've seen similar technology inside the Dell Venue 8 7840 tablet, although it's measurement capabilities were a bit hit and miss.

LinX sensors also use a new clear pixel channel design, which the company says reduces crosstalk and helps reduce noise, all in a smaller package. The net result is a smaller camera that's smarter and produces cleaner and more detailed images: just the thing that Apple requires. For more information on the LinX technology, you can read this Scribd presentation.

LinX sensors

Cost

It's hard to say so far in advance how much Apple will charge for the iPhone 7, but the company does tend to keep its prices stable. If we were to guess then, we'd say the entry level version (16GB at the moment, by possibly 32GB by the time the phone is released) will cost £539; the 64GB version will cost £619 and the 128GB version £699. Assuming there's an iPhone 7 Plus, expect the prices to be £619, £699 and £789 respectively.

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