Two separate reports emerged around the same time on Monday claiming to offer new details on a number of key iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus specs. According to the claims, much of what we’ve seen and heard thus far about Apple’s upcoming iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is accurate. They’ll feature a new 16nm Apple A10 processor, 2GB or 3GB of LPDDR4 RAM depending on the model, upgraded cameras including a new dual-lens setup on the iPhone 7 Plus, and bigger batteries. That’s all good news.
But there was some bad news to be found in yesterday’s leak, and the more I think about it the more annoyed I get.
Back in 2010 when Apple first introduced the iPhone 4, CEO Steve Jobs made a bold claim about the phone’s new high-resolution display. He said that the screen, which Apple dubbed “Retina Display,” would set the standard for smartphone displays for the next five years. Jobs was close. For about four years, iPhone displays were easily among the best in the business. What Apple didn’t anticipate, however, was how fast rival smartphone companies would match and surpass Apple’s screen tech.
In 2015, Apple made no significant upgrades to the displays on its iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Having already begun to fall behind rivals that were selling 2K smartphones, Apple’s handsets sported either a 5.5-inch 1080p resolution or a 4.7-inch display with just 720p resolution.
Pixel count is just one characteristic that helps determine display quality, of course, but Apple had fallen behind elsewhere as well. In particular, Samsung’s Super AMOLED screens had improved to the point where they were dramatically better than Apple’s LCD panels in every way imaginable, from pixel density and color reproduction to contrast and black levels.
According to rumors, Apple is sticking with LCD screens until next year, when the tenth-anniversary iPhone is set to switch to a curved OLED panel. Earlier rumors suggested that in the interim, however, Apple’s new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus would feature higher-resolution screens. Multiple rumors pointed to a new 1080p screen on the iPhone 7, while the iPhone 7 Plus would seemingly get an upgraded 2K panel.
The claims made sense. For 2016, Apple is widely expected to release new iPhone models with designs that are strikingly similar to iPhones from the past two years — like a second “S” upgrade, so to speak. With that in mind, it would make sense for Apple to add big upgrades wherever possible in order to prompt users to upgrade. The new iPhones will be more powerful, they’ll include twice as much storage capacity at each tier, and some more nifty upgrades.
But according to yesterday’s leaks, the new iPhones will not in fact include higher resolution screens. As a refresher, here are the specs that were listed:
- 4.7-inch display, 1334 x 750 resolution
- Apple A10 processor
- 2GB of LPDDR4 RAM
- 1,960 mAh battery
- 12-megapixel f1.9 rear camera
- Improved water and dust resistance
iPhone 7 Plus
- 5.5-inch display, 1080p resolution
- 3GB of LPDDR4 RAM
- 2,910 mAh battery
- Dual 12-megapixel f1.9 rear cameras
As noted above, the smaller iPhone 7 will seemingly still have a 720p screen and the larger Plus model will still sport 1080p resolution. It would be great if these new leaks were wrong but with less than a week to go until Apple’s big iPhone 7 unveiling on September 7th, we likely would have already seen higher-resolution display panels leak if they were set to debut on the new iPhones.
Apple is expected to release the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus on September 16th and by all accounts, they’re going to be big upgrades. As a matter of fact, the iPhone 7 is going to be so much more exciting than you think. But sadly, upgraded displays don’t appear to be in the cards this year, which means Apple falls further behind in this key area while rivals like Samsung continue to expand their lead.