iPhone 7 rumors: Lightning EarPods and adapter will help transition away from the headphone jack

The new iPhone doesn't come out until September, but that won't stop the rumor mill from churning at a furious pace.

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Credit: Apple

With Apple’s September 7 event right around the corner, the iPhone 7 rumors are getting even louder. To help keep track of all the scuttlebutt, we’re collecting every rumor we’ve heard so far—and every new one that crops up between now and the day Tim pulls the new iPhone out of his pocket. Then we’ll assess whether each rumor seems legit or absurd, and we’d love to hear your thoughts, too. Sound off in the comments.

What’s the latest?

The rumor: A week before the iPhone 7 is expected to be revealed, a picture has surfaced rumored to be the spec sheet for an iPhone 7 with 256GB of storage. That it’s a 256GB model is notable enough—it suggests that Apple is doubling the maximum storage capacity of the iPhone from 128GB. In addition, it could be possible that Apple will get rid of the 16GB version, making the 64GB the starting model.

The spec sheet also makes another astonishing revelation: The iPhone 7 could ship with Lightning EarPods and an “Lightning to Headphone Jack Adapter.” This corroborates the long-standing rumor that the iPhone 7 won’t have a headphone jack, forcing Apple to revamp its EarPods. The spec sheet was originally posted on Chinese blogging site Weibo, and reported by MacRumors.

Plausible? Apple could use this iPhone cycle to tackle some low-hanging fruit, like finally getting rid of the measly 16GB model. However, given how much Apple has been focused on optimizing storage using software tricks in iOS 10, we’re not entirely sure that a 256GB version makes sense for the company right now. However, Apple announced a 2TB iCloud storage tier on Wednesday, which could signal that a larger-capacity iPhone is upon us.

In terms of the Lightning EarPods, it’s interesting to consider how Apple might help alleviate the pain of transition to a headphone jack-less world, but including an adapter might be too generous. We predict that the adapter will be sold separately at the Apple store for $29, like the Lightning to 30-pin adapter.

Are these prototype videos legit?

The rumor: Another recent rumor surfaced in video form. Two videos were posted on a U.K. YouTube site earlier in August, claiming to depict leaked prototypes of both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The videos seem to corroborate earlier rumors—for example, we see both iPhone models with a near-identical look as the current generation, but with only a Lighting port, redesigned antenna lines, dual speakers, and no Smart Connector in sight. In addition, the iPhone 7 Plus sports a dual camera. The video quotes recent rumors that the Home button won’t be “press-able,” but we don’t get to see that in the video, which were posted on SlashGear.

Plausible? If these prototypes prove to be legit, it would be one of the biggest leaks in recent iPhone history. However, there is some doubt as to the authenticity of these leaks. For an alleged hands-on, the videos don’t reveal any new information about the iPhone 7 models. Most of the commentary is taken from previous rumors. For example, there is no testing of the Home button to see whether it will be flat or not, which seems like a very blatant missed opportunity.

Furthermore, the second video shows an iPhone 7 getting doused with water, yet no mention of any water-resistance or waterproof features. The fact that the video-makers don’t seem to be in a position to make any new claims makes us skeptical.

What about an iPhone 7 Pro?

The rumor: “Reliable sources” have confirmed to Japanese tech site Mac Otakara that September’s iPhone models will be called iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Hence, this rumor contradicts previous reports that Apple will release three new models this year. Earlier rumors suggested that Apple would introduce a higher-tier Pro version that would feature a Smart Connector and an even better camera. This rumor was also picked up by MacRumors.

Plausible? Apple has chosen to stay with the status quo when it comes to the two-model launch strategy. However disappointing, this rumor may be accurate considering that we’ve already heard the iPhone-maker is waiting until 2017 to break from the norm and release a radically-new smartphone.

What do these internal docs confirm?

The rumor: With the iPhone 7 getting ready to ship, production is ramping up for Apple’s upcoming smartphone. And new leaked documents from the production supply chain seem to confirm what we’ve speculated all along. In terms of hardware, the iPhone 7 will be near-identical to the iPhone 6s, except it will have a redesigned antenna lines, better alignment of the dual-camera, no headphone jack, and a second speaker. The internal documentation was first published by NowhereElse and reported by BGR.

Plausible? The fact that we’ve heard about all these minor changes before, and that they keep surfacing like whack-a-mole seems to suggest that the iPhone 7 is not going to be anywhere close to a mystery when Apple unveils it next week. All the changes that were outlined in the internal docs were also corroborated by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, adding credibility to the leaks. The only thing left to decipher is whether the iPhone 7 Plus will sport any major difference, or if we’re going to get a third iPhone 7 Pro.

Mark your calendar for Sept. 7?

The rumor: The iPhone 7 will be announced at a Sept. 7 event, Bloomberg reports. Fitting, no? Apple usually schedules its events on Tuesdays, but given that Labor Day this year falls on Monday, Sept. 5, a Wednesday announcement would make sense.

Plausible? Absolutely. We’ve also heard that Apple plans to start selling the new iPhone on Sept. 16, so a Sept. 7 event gives the company a healthy window between announcement and launch.

Wireless EarPods on the way?

The rumor: Apple is allegedly developing wireless EarPods with a custom “low-power” Bluetooth chip so that they have longer-lasting battery life. According to Forbes, Apple has been working on a special chip for years, and it’s likely that these EarPods will launch in conjunction with the iPhone 7 in September.

Plausible? We’d heard rumblings of wireless earbuds before, and it makes sense given that the iPhone 7 is rumored to do away with a headphone jack. Wireless EarPods would be an obvious next-generation product for Apple, and it’s smart that the company is focused on extending their battery life. When we tested a few wireless earbuds, the battery life ranged from one hour to four hours. Or longer, if you count their charging case as an portable battery. Although we wouldn’t be surprised if Apple sold these wireless EarPods as an added accessory, instead of being packaged alongside the iPhone 7.

Flat Home button thanks to Force Touch?

The rumor: It seems we now have more evidence that the iPhone 7 will come with a flat Home button that doesn’t click when you press it. However, you will still get the sensation of a physical click thanks to Apple incorporating Force Touch sensors with haptic feedback. It’d combine the Force Touch trackpad experience with 3D Touch functionalities. This rumor originally emerged with leaked photos from mobipicker (via 9to5Mac) and was backed up by Cowen and Company analysts. Now it’s noted Apple leak machine, Macotakara (via BGR), that’s echoed these rumors. 

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A fully flat Home button could have 3D Touch potential too. 

Plausible? The iPhone is due for some hardware tweaks – even if they’re subtle – so a flat, non-physical Home button could be the standout upgrade on this next generation. Besides, the fewer physical buttons, the more durable the iPhone becomes. Now that more people are purchasing their devices through installment plans and the iPhone Upgrade program, it makes sense that Apple would want to to make iPhones that are longer-lasting so they can be refurbished and resold in the future. 

Mark your calendars: Sept. 16

The rumor: The iPhone 7 (and variations on that model) are reportedly hitting store shelves on Sept. 16, according to noted leaker Evan Blass. That’s a little earlier than iPhones typically debut in September—last year, the iPhone 6s went on sale on Sept. 25. This would also push the iPhone event to earlier in September, or perhaps late August, if the standard two-week window between announcement and retail launch holds this year.

Plausible? It’s possible that Apple will announce the new iPhones the first week of September, with preorders opening that week, too. Blass has a strong track record with device announcements, though typically of the Android variety. As 9to5Mac notes, Blass last year reported that the 6s, 6s Plus, and SE would launch at the same time. The SE wasn’t released until this year. It would be more likely for Apple to open preorders on Sept. 16, but we’ll know soon enough.

Three new iPhones?

The rumor: The iPhone Pro rumors just won’t die, with a new image from French website Nowhereelse.fr showing what appears to be an iPhone 7 Pro edition with dual-lens camera system and a Smart Connector. An iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 7 are seen next to the Pro, both with larger camera holes (as we’ve seen previously) but lacking the dual-lens set-up and Smart Connector. This seems to indicate that Apple will release three iPhones this fall, and that the 7 Plus won’t have two lenses as has been rumored.

Plausible? We’re betting no on this one. Leaker Evan Blass on Twitter claimed there are only two iPhone models, codenamed Sonora and Dos Palos (those are towns in California, keeping in theme with Apple’s West Coast state of mind). Plus, there would be no reason for iPhone 6 Plus or 6s Plus owners to upgrade if the 7 Plus didn’t see huge camera improvements (like the rumored dual-lens addition). And we can’t still can’t imagine the need for a Smart Connector on the iPhone, though surely Apple prototyped one just to see what it would be like.

Longer battery life at last?

The rumor: Apple is allegedly planning to improve the battery life in the iPhone 7 by adding a 1960mAh battery. The iPhone 6s currently boasts a 1715mAh battery. According to 9to5Mac, this upgraded battery will equal to about one extra hour of battery life on the iPhone 7. It remains a mystery whether Apple will also improve the battery on the iPhone 7 Plus. The iPhone 6s Plus currently has a 2750mAh battery.

Plausible? This should be a no-brainer for Apple. Especially considering that longer lasting battery life is one of the most requested features from iPhone owners. In fact, this would reverse the awful trend that Apple instituted with the 6s and 6s line, which actually rolled out with a smaller battery than its predecessors.

Subtle redesign, same four color schemes?

The rumor: Don’t hold your breath for a blue or Space Black iPhone 7. New images have surfaced on MacityNet showing the iPhone 7 with the antenna lines that trace the edges on the top and bottom, a redesigned camera bump, and the same four color schemes: Space Grey, Gold, Silver, and Rose Gold. The photos, which were also posted on 9to5Mac, also depict a camera hole that’s 25 percent larger in diameter.

Plausible? Considering the forthcoming iPhone is rumored to be near-identical to the current generation, it would have been smart for Apple to add a fifth color to shake things up. Even though a blue iPhone may seem a little weird, I think a Space Black option would be a hot-seller.

As far as the bigger, redesigned camera, Apple always aims to improve the camera quality with each iPhone upgrade so this makes perfect sense.

Smart Connector and no mute button for the Plus?

The rumor: A photo reportedly showing the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus is making the rounds on Chinese social network Weibo, and the most notable feature is the Smart Connector on the back of the device. 9to5Mac, which spotted the photo, noted that the 7 Plus also lacks a mute button, which is usually found above the volume controls. 

Plausible? I hate the idea of no mute button, which I toggle on and off throughout the day depending on whether the situation calls for my phone to vibrate or ring. This could potentially be a software feature rather than a hardware one, but relearning that behavior will definitely be a pain. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Apple ditched the mute button, though. iPads no longer have them.

The Smart Connector is a rumor we’ve heard in the past, but it’s difficult to imagine which accessories would make sense to connect in the same way that they do on the iPad Pro. A keyboard would be silly. According to 9to5Mac, Apple was rumored to be testing the Smart Connector in some iPhone prototypes but may veer away from that feature in the final product.

iPhone 7 camera upgrade?

iphone camera photos

The iPhone 7 Plus might have the most amazing smartphone camera ever.

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