In about a month, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is expected to launch no fewer than three flagship iPhone models. Two of the three are expected to be, in effect, the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus -- that is, direct successors to the current iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
Not much is known about the devices, other than that they will probably share the same basic shape with their predecessors while adding in new features such as wireless charging, a faster and more capable A11 Fusion processor, and probably an enhanced wireless subsystem.
Here are three features that I think Apple could include on these devices to make them truly great.
Bloomberg technology reporter Mark Gurman said last month that Apple is testing versions of its upcoming premium iPhone with OLED display with the company's ProMotion display technology.
ProMotion is Apple's marketing term for a high-refresh rate display, which means the display updates its contents at a rate of 120 times per second, double that of its previous displays. That means everything that happens on the display is a lot smoother. If you don't believe me, go to a local Apple Store and try out one of the new iPad Pro 10.5-inch or 12.9-inch tablets. It's just an awesome user-experience improvement.
I think if Apple really wants to get the jump on the rest of the smartphone market, it'll bring this technology to both the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus. Not only could this give Apple a huge competitive advantage, since the iPad Pro suggests that it seems to have worked out this technology, but it'd also give users an obvious reason to upgrade to either the iPhone 7s or iPhone 7s Plus if the OLED iPhone isn't for them.
True Tone display
Another display innovation Apple brought to its iPad Pro lineup first was a True Tone display, which adjusts the color temperature of the display in response to the ambient light conditions.
This feature was rumored to be coming to Apple's new iPhone models a while back, and I think if it makes it to this year's models, it'll be a killer feature -- though not as much as the ProMotion display would be.
Dedicated AI chip
Back in May, Gurman reported that Apple is working on a dedicated artificial-intelligence accelerator, dubbed internally as the "Apple Neural Engine," to accelerate common tasks previously handled by the general-purpose CPU inside the A-series processors or the graphics processing unit. This technology should increase the power efficiency of whatever devices it powers.
Gurman indicated that Apple "plans to eventually integrate the chip into many of its devices, including the iPhone and iPad, according to a person with knowledge of the matter."
I think the odds are good that Apple will, if it introduces the technology this year, include it across its entire iPhone lineup, but there's always the chance it'll restrict it to the premium OLED iPhone. I hope that's not the case, though, as improved battery life as well as the cool selling point of a dedicated AI chip could help the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus stand out against competitors in the Android smartphone segment.