Contradictory Rumors About iPhone 7 Create a Real Mystery

| Analysis

Image credit: Apple

Earlier today it was reported that, according to KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple would return to an all-glass enclosure with the iPhone. But that the change will occur in 2017, not this year. In light of Apple's tradition and what we (think we) know about inductive charging, a really good mystery has surfaced.

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The first thing to absorb about Ming-Chi Kuo's note is that this change to glass will come in the non-integer cycle of the iPhone 7s in 2017. Bryan Chaffin wrote: "...there is a growing body of evidence that the 2016 iPhone refresh will be an update of the iPhone 6/6s form factor rather than the expected complete overhaul."

I don't believe this for a microsecond. Part of the allure of the new iPhone each year is that it has a slimmer case and better display. To continue the iPhone 6/6s shape for a third cycle would be a severe competitive and marketing disadvantage.

The next thing to note is that we've been hearing rumors about how Apple wants to move to inductive charging. However, not everything here is as straightforward as its seems. The backstory...

In 2012, Phil Schiller pooh-poohed NFC. Later, Apple introduced NFC and Apple Pay. In the same breath, Mr. Schiller talked about how the advantage of inductive charging is "questionable."

“Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated.

It's possible that Mr. Schiller was also being mischievous about that. A recent article at Cult of Mac supports the idea that inductive charging doesn't work well through mental. "Breakthrough could finally bring wireless charging to iPhone." Buster Hein writes:

The problem with wireless charging, is it’s only been available on devices that have a plastic exterior. That’s ok if you’re making cheapo looking smartphones like Samsung, but Jony Ive’s love for aluminium bodies has precluded iPhones from being able to charge wirelessly.

The author goes on to explain how Qualcomm announced that it:

... has engineered the first ever solution that allows wireless charging for devices with metal exteriors. The solution uses Qualcomm’s WiPower technology and is designed to be compliant with the Rezence standard.

 

Image credit: Shutterstock

Discussion

Possible explanations are:

1. Ming-Chi Kuo is mistaken. Apple will utilize the Qualcomm technique in 2016's aluminum iPhone 7. There's no need to go to glass in 2017.

2. Apple is having trouble implementing the Qualcomm technique with its own designs (or doesn't like the licensing terms) and is going to glass in 2017 with the 7s so that it can deliver inductive charging in a conventional way. Inductive charging will be deferred in 2016's iPhone 7. But that would likely mean a case redesign in the "s" year, and that's hard to swallow.

3. Ming-Chi Kuo is mistaken. Apple wants to do something really cool with the iPhone 7 exterior (and its AMOLED display) and wants to get rid of the antenna gaps in the current design. Glass does tnat. A next generation Gorilla glass that can absorb impacts, is fairly scratchproof, looks great, doesn't require a case, feels good to the touch, and can do conventional inductive charging, license free, is coming this year. And will endure, preserving the cycle in 2017 as the 7s with Apple's new features.

It's all a mystery for now, and only time and more consistent rumors will shed light on these seeming contradictions. My bet is on #3. But I only know what I read.

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Comments

vpndev

Please don’t make it thinner. Enough already with “thin”. And that ugly camera bump.

Bashful

Considering Apple’s commitment to minimizing their impact on the environment, I don’t see them implementing wireless charging on tens of millions of new iPhones until it’s transfer efficiency is very nearly that of a wired connection.
Though modern switch-mode chargers draw little power when idle, the convenience of this feature also means it will most certainly never be unplugged, wasting more power still.
There are accessories available for customers that want this as a convenience or need it as a safety feature (i.e. no spark environments.)

JoelS

Wow!  What if they came up with a Silicon Carbide body? That would be amazing.

JustCause

We are getting to the point where instead of thinner, they will become more compact with rollout screens.

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Lee Dronick

  Please don’t make it thinner. Enough already with “thin”. And that ugly camera bump.

I agree with that. They can be too thin to comfortably and securely hold. If they can shrink the electronics and thin the display, then give us a bigger battery or just leave some white space inside.

I do soon forsee inductice charging, but not until several more design cycles.

ibuck

Yep. Thinner no longer equals winner.  Especially if thinness means gobs of glue or other environmental issues, not to mention inability to be repaired.

Apple needs to improve its software, not just trot out new physical forms.

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