In a recent press release from TrendForce, the market research firm claimed that one of the major selling points of the next iPhone from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will be a waterproof design (in addition to additional memory for the larger iPhone 7 Plus model).
Does this report make sense? Let's take a closer look.
Apple already took significant steps toward water resistance with the 6s/6s Plus
Following the release of the iPhone 6s/6s Plus, a device teardown specialist at iFixit noted in a blog post that Apple had taken a number of non-trivial steps to make these deviceS significantly more water resistant than previous iPhones.
Indeed, a member of the iFixit team pointed out that "every cable connector on the board -- from the battery and display, to the Lightning port and buttons -- is surrounded by a tiny silicone seal." iFixit notes that these connectors are "the most vulnerable bits of the device" and that they are quick to be damaged during "unplanned aquatic excursions."
Although the iPhone 6s/6s Plus aren't completely waterproof, the next logical step from here -- particularly given all of the work that Apple seems to have put into making the iPhone 6s/6s Plus water resistant -- is to make the iPhone 7/7 Plus waterproof, as the writer of the iFixit blog suggested.
This could be an interesting selling point
Waterproof phones have been done, but if TrendForce is correct, then the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will be the first waterproof iPhones. According to a report from Kelton Research (that's admittedly a couple of years old, but should still be valid today), two of the leading causes of cell phone damage included spilling a drink on the device and dropping the device into the toilet.
Although not exactly a glamorous selling point such as a super-fast new processor or an awesome new display, this is a practical feature that -- if Apple can get it right -- should give iPhone buyers greater peace of mind with respect to their expensive devices. This peace of mind, at least on some level, will probably be valued by many, if not most, potential iPhone buyers, in my view.
Is this likely? I think so
Although I'd like to wait for confirmation from another source (say, KGI Securities' Ming-Chi Kuo) before accepting as fact that the next iPhone will be waterproof, I think that this is exactly the kind of feature one should expect to see in a next-generation iPhone.
That being said, I disagree with TrendForce's characterization of this feature -- should it wind up as part of the next iPhone -- as the "major selling point" for the device. It would certainly be a selling point, but it's not the sort of thing that will get people to upgrade.
Indeed, I think that one of the key reasons that the upgrade cycles for iPhones (and smartphones in general) are relatively short compared to other consumer electronic devices is that innovation happens along multiple axes.
Improvements in the camera, processor, industrial design, display, user interface, and the software that the user interacts should ideally add up to an experience that's so much better than what came before that potential buyers are compelled to part with what is, frankly, a substantial amount of cash.
Thankfully for Apple shareholders, the company has done a really good job of making this happen thus far, and I think it will continue to do so in the years ahead.
Ashraf Eassa has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.