Our first look at the iPhone 7 couldn’t be less exciting (and why that’s OK)

iPhone 7 Photos

Apple’s iPhones are the only smartphones out there that still excite people, but our first look at what is likely the brand new iPhone 7 design couldn’t have possibly been less exciting. In fact, it’s hardly brand new. It looks… like an iPhone 6. But if Apple has taught us anything in recent years, it’s that looks hardly paint a complete picture and we absolutely shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

While Apple is set to take the wraps off its first new iPhone of 2016 in exactly one week, the company’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are far more eagerly anticipated. They likely won’t hit store shelves until late September but since they represent the biggest launches of 2016, leaks have already begun rolling in. Actually, they started last year before the iPhone 6s was even released, when the world’s most accurate Apple leaker Ming-Chi Kuo started things off by revealing some early iPhone 7 specs.

Today, however, we got what is likely our first look at the iPhone 7’s new design.

The leak comes from a source with a very good track record and as such, it’s most likely the genuine article. Come September, this is probably exactly what Apple’s new iPhone 7 will look like. In line with rumors, it’s basically the phone that many people hoped the iPhone 6 would be — it has the same shape and a very similar overall design, but it makes use of a much less unsightly design for the plastic antenna lines and it appears to remove the camera lens bump (almost?) completely.

It’s hardly a big departure from Apple’s current iPhone models… but that’s OK.

Apple’s iPhone 6s in 2015 gave us all a few important lessons. First, it showed us that like all things, a smartphone is the sum of its parts. Despite a dual-core processor and only 2GB of RAM, the iPhone 6s outperformed all other smartphone models. Even the ones with eight cores and twice the RAM.

But it also taught us that looks can be deceiving. The iPhone 6s looked exactly like its predecessor, as is the case with all “S” iPhone models, but it was by far the most substantial upgrade that the iPhone lineup has ever received. Even more substantial than the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which were the first iPhones to feature significantly bigger screens. I explained why in my in-depth iPhone 6s review.

I have already started to see rumblings and grumblings online based on today’s leaked photo suggesting that this year’s iPhone upgrades are going to be “boring.” By all means, go ahead and jump to conclusions based on a single 3D render. But before you do, you might want to consider the fact that we know absolutely nothing at this point about the new internal hardware features or the new software features Apple has planned for the iPhone 7. Nothing at all.

Far more details that will leak out over the next few months and they will paint a much more complete picture of the flagship iPhones Apple has planned for 2016. But even then, we still won’t know the full story until Apple unveils the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in September. Remember, we thought we knew all there was to know about the iPhone 6s before it debuted, and it still ended up surprising us all and blowing reviewers away.

Apple’s iPhone 7 might not be quite as exciting as upcoming phones that get the long-range wireless charging feature Apple appears to be working on behind closed doors. And it might not feature a crazy new design that is a big departure from the current models. But if you think the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are going to be a boring upgrade, you’ve got another thing coming.

Dollars and Sense is a recurring column by BGR Executive Editor Zach Epstein. It offers insights on subtle changes in and around consumer electronics with the potential to have a broad impact on companies that drive the industry. Contact the author at z@bgr.com.

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