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Is this why the iPhone 7 is so boring?

Published May 31st, 2016 10:02AM EDT

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We recently got a look at a leaked photo that likely shows a real iPhone 7 for the first time — check it out here if you missed it — and to be frank, it doesn’t look terribly exciting. In fact, “boring” is apparently the word du jour for tech blogs covering iPhone 7 leaks, though we explained back in March why a boring-looking iPhone 7 probably isn’t much of a problem at all.

Well, if a new report is to be believed, we finally have a logical explanation of why Apple’s upcoming new iPhone looks so “boring.”

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Reading between the lines of a new report from Nikkei, we may finally know why Apple’s next-generation iPhone 7 handset doesn’t seem terribly exciting in terms of its design. Nikkei has been hit or miss in the past when it comes to reports surrounding unreleased Apple devices, but elements of each report typically end up panning out. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the paper’s latest claim about Apple’s upcoming new iPhones.

“Apple will likely take three years between full-model changes of its iPhone devices, a year longer than the current cycle,” Nikkei reporter Yuichiro Kanematsu wrote. “In a typical two-year term, fall 2016 was supposed to see a major upgrade. But the changes on the model to be launched this autumn will be minor, such as improved camera quality.”

Why such a huge change? Here’s the explanation Kanematsu poses: “The move is largely due to smartphone functions having little room left for major enhancements. A slowing market is another factor.”

That explanation is doubtful at best and implausible at worst. Apple is responding to “a slowing market” by spreading major releases further apart and giving customers less reason to upgrade? That’s just not going to happen. But as I mentioned earlier, Nikkei reports are often at least partially rooted in reality, and this one may be as well.

Here’s another, more plausible explanation:

Next year’s iPhone is rumored to be a complete overhaul from top to bottom. This makes sense of course, since it marks the 10-year anniversary of the original iPhone. An in-the-know source has stated that an OLED display can likely be expected on next year’s big iPhone redesign, and the home button may be removed so that the screen can take up more of the phone’s face. Apple’s TouchID fingerprint sensor will reportedly be embedded beneath the iPhone’s screen instead of in the home button, which is something Apple has been working on achieving for quite some time.

With that in mind, a more modest upgrade in 2016 might make sense. This year’s iPhone 7 could be something of an iPhone 6ss, offering minor design changes, more power and a handful of nifty new features to tide fans over until next year’s major tenth anniversary iPhone update. But then after that, you can be darn sure Apple will return to its regularly scheduled programming and offer major iPhone updates every other year.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.