According to a report from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)-centric website MacRumors, we now know a little bit more about what Apple is planning to do with respect to the industrial design of its next generation flagship iPhones.
Per the site, the new iPhones will see the elimination of the rear camera bump that many iPhone owners -- as well as, if comments from a former Apple intern are to be believed (via Business Insider), Apple Chief Design Officer Jonathan Ive -- thought looked bad.
The next major design change that Apple will reportedly bring to the table is the elimination of a good portion of the antenna bands found on the back of the current iPhone 6/6s series designs. The antenna lines are still said to remain on the sides as well as on the top, suggesting that the device will still be made of aluminum rather than the new, metal alloy-lookalike material that Apple patented some years ago.
Aside from that, MacRumors reports -- citing a source that "has provided reliable information" previously -- that the new iPhone will look quite similar to the current generation iPhones.
Antenna band removal, flush camera, and thinner, too?
Although MacRumors' source could not verify whether or not the device will be thinner, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo published a note a while back suggesting that Apple is aiming for a thickness of between 6 millimeters and 6.5 millimeters.
If what Kuo published a while back is correct, then the new iPhones should be quite a bit thinner than the current iPhone 6s/6s Plus phones, which measure in at thicknesses of 7.1 millimeters and 7.3 millimeters, respectively.
Understanding the challenges associated with slimming these phones down
There are certainly factors that are more important than making the device even thinner than it is now. Apple needs to deliver a significant improvement in camera technology/quality relative to the prior generation. It also needs to include a faster processor, add a substantially enhanced (and potentially higher resolution) display, and more goodies.
Apple faces something of a "tug of war" between these two diametrically opposed requirements. On one hand, developing higher performance cameras and displays are already quite difficult. By trying to advance both camera and display technology while simultaneously making the device slimmer, Apple and its suppliers face a substantially bigger challenge.
The good news, though, is that Apple has had a couple of years at least to try to work on those new technologies since the launch of the iPhone 6/6 Plus. In addition to quite a lot of time, Apple has also dramatically increased its research and development spending in recent years, which should allow it to tackle these increasingly difficult technical challenges in the compressed timeframes that Apple has to develop each new iPhone.
The iPhone 7 sounds like it will be a very refined iPhone 6/6 Plus
So far, it seems as though from an industrial design perspective, the next generation iPhones will be highly refined versions of the already very successful iPhone 6/6 Plus. Although some may be hoping for a bigger change than that, it's good that Apple is addressing two of the biggest "pain points" that customers had with the prior generation phone design.
Given that Apple, now more than ever, needs to convince buyers to upgrade to next generation devices, such enhancements are more than welcome.