Image source: Apple. 

Many of the rumors and leaks around Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) upcoming iPhone 7 point to a device that's, at least cosmetically, not significantly changed from the iPhone 6 and 6s families of phones. The iPhone 7 is still expected to come in 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch display variants, it's still expected to have the same general "shape" as the prior generation iPhones, and the general "look and feel" isn't expected to be much different.

However, a recent set of leaks suggest that Apple is making a bunch of changes that, in aggregate, could add up to both a more functional and better looking family of devices. Let's take a closer look.

Force Touch home button

Cowen and Company (via ZDNet), as well as 9to5Mac, separately reported that the next generation iPhone could feature a "Force Touch" home button. Indeed, a source reportedly told 9to5Mac that the home button on the next iPhone will still be a physical button but "will feature haptic feedback to simulate a click, using the same approach as Force Touch."

Although this won't fundamentally change the functionality of the device, this seems like a much more elegant implementation of the home button than a physical button.

Space black casing option

Apple is also rumored to offer the next iPhone in what is described as a "much darker space gray." Well-known 3D artist Martin Hajek produced a number of renderings of a next generation iPhone in such a color (along with the other rumored design changes such as the removal of the top and bottom antenna lines and the inclusion of a larger rear camera lens), and I must say that the renderings show a significantly prettier device than the iPhone 6/6s. 

Image source: Martin Hajek.

Lots of technical changes

Beyond the above changes, I'm expecting significant technical improvements under the hood. Wireless chipmaker Broadcom (NASDAQ:AVGO) has already indicated that Apple will be beefing up both the cellular and the Wi-Fi capabilities of the next iPhone.

Additionally, we can expect that Apple has significantly revamped the cameras in both the smaller and larger variants of the new iPhones, something that many leaks have hinted at. Given how important camera functionality is in smartphones, and given that Apple didn't make as large an advance as some might have hoped with the iPhone 6s/6s Plus in this area, improvements here should be most welcome.

Though there hasn't been much in the way of leaks around the display technologies that will be used in the upcoming iPhones, I'm expecting that Apple will deliver significant improvements here. I continue to believe that the new iPhones will pack displays with even better contrast ratios and color accuracy than the displays on the 6/6s series' of phones.

Apple also introduced a wide color gamut display on the iPad Pro 9.7-inch, which dramatically improved color saturation of the display. I would be absolutely stunned if the new phones didn't feature wide gamut displays, particularly as the improvement can be quite impressive (I've observed this firsthand with my iPad Pro relative to my iPad Air 2).

We'll see how this new phone does

It's expected at this point that we won't see a dramatically revamped iPhone until the 2017 model. However, there does seem to be an opportunity for Apple to make reasonable, if not revolutionary, advances across a number of vectors from the prior generation phone.

It'll only be a couple of months before we see exactly what Apple has done with the new phone and whether it has crafted a device that can put an end to the current slump in iPhone sales or not.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.