Perhaps you’ve got too much money and need to have the newest thing. Perhaps your iPhone 6 or 5s still works fine and you’re considering treating yourself to the recently announced iPhone 7. Perhaps you should hold that thought and wait for the iPhone 8.
2017 marks ten years of iPhones, and rumor has it that Apple has something very special planned. The iPhone 7 is more of the same, and though it’s a capable device, the next big thing is already in development and it’s likely to be a real stepping stone.
What Do We Know About the iPhone 8?
Absolutely nothing. Sorry to disappoint you, but rumors aren’t to be relied upon until Apple officially confirms or denies them, usually by means of a product announcement. We won’t really know what the iPhone 8 is like until September 2017, though you can expect a slow drip of leaks and mockups in the months leading up to release, as has become the new normal for Apple products.
Secrecy is a marketing technique that’s worked very well over the years. Even when new features and big changes are leaked months in advance, Apple still holds its cards firmly against its chest. The iPhone is a rumor magnet like no other, attracting speculation that’s likely fueled by the company’s obsession with radio silence until new products are pretty much on the shelves.
The iPhone 7 is somewhat of an anomaly because Apple has settled into a pattern of performing a major hardware refresh every two years. There was the iPhone 4 followed by the iPhone 4s, a brand new iPhone 5 before the 5s, but the most recent design has been used for the iPhone 6, 6s, Plus models, and now the iPhone 7.
That means we’re “overdue” for a major hardware refresh, which is a bit of a presumptive word to use since Apple is like any other company and likely to adjust their approach based on what works, what sells, and what technology is currently available. It does suggest that the next iteration of iPhone will introduce a major refresh, though.
Top of the rumor mill is a radical redesign, shying away from the lightweight aluminium that Apple has been using since the iPhone 6 in favor of an all-glass body. Rumors first popped up in March and April 2016, with Japan’s Nikkei Asia Review claiming in August that Apple’s hardware manufacturer, Foxconn, has already started producing an all-glass surround for the device.
Further speculation about an edge-to-edge OLED display have led some to suggest that Apple is thinking of canning the physical home button and incorporating Touch ID and front-facing camera directly into the display. It’s not hard to imagine that the company wants to switch to more energy-efficient OLED displays with better black reproduction, but the same sources have speculated that edge-to-edge OLED might only feature in a “premium” iPhone.
Wireless charging is another area where the company has lagged behind certain competitors, and the company is apparently working on such technology that could be ready by 2017. What sets this rumor apart from the rest though is the possibility of “long range” wireless charging that doesn’t rely on the immediate proximity of a charging pad or adapter.
The addition of more advanced biometrics has also been suggested by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. It’s certainly a direction that Apple has been moving towards with the Health app, Touch ID, and Apple Watch. Features like face detection and even iris scanning have been thrown around, presumably as a means of unlocking and securing the device.
Other enhancements are altogether more predictable — a better A11 processor, faster NAND-based storage, higher capacity devices, and a new haptic engine for delivering more complex touch feedback to the user.
When to Buy an iPhone 7
The best time to buy an iPhone 7 is when you need one, which is the answer we always give when it comes to buying new Apple gadgets. If you can hold off on a purchase to coincide with Apple’s fairly predictable release cycles, you’ll get the newest features, faster hardware, you’ll be the envy of your friends, and you’ll likely pay the same price you would have paid for an older device a few weeks prior.
But the arrival of a new device or knowledge that better technology is forthcoming doesn’t devalue your existing items. An iPhone you buy in August is still an iPhone, and it’s still just as good as it was on the first day of release. New devices don’t make your old ones somehow worse.
Photographers and musicians may be familiar with the term “gear acquisition syndrome” which describes a condition that prioritizes the collecting of new cameras, lenses, guitars, effect pedals, and so on above the craft or hobby itself. A similar thing tends to happen when smartphone manufacturers release new models each and every year. Think about what you really use your phone for, and it’s unlikely a brand new device will really change your usage that much.
You’ll still be playing Pokemon GO and sending drunken Snapchats, while Apple delivers brand new features (like Night Mode) in free updates anyway. If you have an iPhone 6s, there isn’t a long list of compelling reasons to upgrade to the iPhone 7. If your device is still in good shape and you can live with it for another 12 months, you’re likely better off waiting for the next model for the (admittedly speculative) reasons stated above.
However, if your device is failing you, you’re still using an iPhone 5s or older, and it’s time to open your wallet, there are a lot of compelling reasons to upgrade. In addition to Apple’s newly announced iPhone 7 features like water resistance, a better camera, and faster A10 processor, there’s everything added with the iPhone 6s too including 3D Touch, Live Photos, and always-on “Hey Siri” voice assistance.
But What About the iPhone 9?!
Basing all your purchasing decisions on rumors and upcoming models is a recipe for disappointment, but being realistic about your requirements can pay off. Just remember that if you’re too busy wondering what you’ll be missing out on when the next big thing arrives, you won’t be enjoying the current big thing you’ve got in front of you right now.
One way to guarantee that you’ll get the newest device is to enroll in Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program. For around $30 per month, you’ll get a new phone every year, AppleCare+, and the freedom to choose a plan that best suits your usage without committing to a two-year contract. Buying a phone through a carrier doesn’t always offer the best value for money due to the longterm commitment required from you, so you might be better off buying outright and selling your iPhone to finance an upgrade yourself.
In short: buy an iPhone if you need one! Don’t need the latest features? Look for a refurbished iPhone 6s. Also consider the iPhone SE if you want a small yet mighty device that’ll save you some money.