Apple has a challenge with their iPhone 16 release this year. In 2023, they managed to ride the hype of a titanium casing and the Action Button. But 2024 is all about AI integration, a topic the company has deliberately avoided publicly discussing.

The Samsung S24 Ultra has set the bar for what a smartphone should bring to the table this year with things like live translation and article summaries. Dynamic Islands and reduced bezel sizes won’t cut the mustard this time around.

So what is Apple cooking up? Let’s delve into the latest information and some less certain rumours.

Release Date

While the exact release date of the iPhone 16 has not been officially announced by Apple, based on previous patterns, we can expect it to hit the shelves in September 2024. 

Apple usually unveils its new iPhones during a special event in early September, followed by a pre-order period and then a wide release a week later.

Pricing

As for the pricing of the iPhone 16, we don’t have any specific rumours or leaks to rely on at this point. However, if Apple follows its usual pricing strategy, the entry-level model should start at around $800, with the Pro models ranging from $1,000 to $1,100. 

Higher storage versions of the Pro models will likely add a few hundred dollars to the base price. It’s worth noting that component costs have been on the rise, so there is a possibility that the iPhone 16 prices could be slightly higher compared to previous models.

Add to that some potential AI additions, and Apple will have a few reasons to up the price. Although, I don’t see any price hike coming into effect. 

Smartphones are no longer the hot new thing. Smart rings and VR headsets will be hogging headlines for at least a few years to come. That means there is less power for smartphones to impress and therefore demand more money.

Design

Being straight with you here, there isn’t anything exciting happening with the iPhone 16’s design.

Leaked prototype designs indicate that the iPhone 16 may feature repositioned main cameras to a vertical alignment, resembling the layout seen on the iPhone 12. The working theory for this is that it will enable the recording of spatial video for use with Vision Pro headsets.

iPhone 16 camera alignment

The iPhone 16’s camera alignment will look something like that of the iPhone 12 (pictured)

These designs also suggest changes to the side buttons, including the addition of a new ‘Capture Button’ on the right-hand side. 

While there have been rumours of under-display Face ID technology, replacing the notch with a single cutout for the selfie camera, this is more likely to appear in the iPhone 17 due to development timelines.

iPhone 16 Camera

The iPhone 16 camera rumours are all about resolution and zoom.

The firmest information suggests that the iPhone 16 Pro and above will utilise a 42-megapixel ultrawide lens. This compares to the iPhone 15 Pro models which have a 12-megapixel ultrawide, so it would be a substantial upgrade.

In less concrete news, some leakers are suggesting that the iPhone 16 Pro Max will have a ‘super telephoto periscope lens’. Nobody really knows what this means, but it would suggest a focal length over 300mm. The iPhone’s current telephoto lens has a focal length of 77mm so it would be a massive improvement.

Haptic buttons

As mentioned above, the iPhone 16 is rumoured to include a Capture Button. The Capture Button will be used to take easy-access video without opening the main camera app. It is also expected to allow users to control zoom and focus with touch and pressure sensitivity.

In other button-related news, Apple is also looking into adding haptic technology to selected buttons on the iPhone 16. Haptic feedback is where vibrations are used to simulate mechanical operation. For example, the Home Button on the iPhone already uses haptic feedback instead of a solid-state button.

Apple tried to implement this on the iPhone 15 but had to abandon plans after they ran into development issues. It makes sense then that this would be introduced in 2024 for the iPhone 16, with Mark Gurman reporting that it is ‘likely’ for the Action Button and any other new capacitive buttons.

Haptic buttons are advantageous because they reduce the chance of intrusion from things like water and dust.

A18 Processor

The iPhone 16 will use the A18 chip. However, it isn’t that simple.

A new iPhone doesn’t necessarily bring an entirely new chip. For example, the iPhone 15 shipped with the same A16 chip introduced in the iPhone 14 Pro.

The iPhone 16 will reportedly use a modified version of the A17 chip seen in the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max models. Analyst Jeff Pu has speculated that Apple will call these chips ‘A18’ anyway, with all models receiving a chip made with TMSC’s N3E manufacturing process.

All of this means that the iPhone 16 won’t see any huge leaps in performance. Marginal gains, nothing more.

As an additional bonus, the iPhone 16 is also rumoured to be coming with 8GB of RAM, up from the 6GB on the iPhone 15.

iPhone 16 AI

Even though AI is set up to be the defining feature of smartphones in the coming years, Apple still hasn’t committed to releasing many AI details.

However, iOS 18 will supposedly bring a much improved Siri powered by Apple’s own Large Language Model called ‘Ajax’. This would enable the iPhone 16 to perform things like live translation, message drafting and other generative functions. In this way, we may see similar developments seen in the S24 Ultra.

To complement these AI upgrades, we’re expecting an AI-powered microphone to improve voice recognition and enable users to interact with AI features more effectively. 

These would be welcome additions to the new iPhone. Siri has long been a bit of a lame duck; unused by most and not very helpful to the rest. 

Even so, I’m still sceptical of how far Apple will throw itself into an AI smartphone. Apple usually shouts loud and proud about the novel things it’s working on. AI hasn’t featured at all in any public events. This either means they have a big surprise coming, or they just don’t care enough.

iPhone 16 Battery

Leaks surrounding the iPhone 16 battery point towards the potential use of ‘stacked battery’ technology. This is exactly as it sounds; battery cells are stacked together to increase capacity.

This will bring 40W wired charging and 20W MagSafe charging. Not excited by this? I don’t blame you.

WiFi 7 and 5G Modem

The type of WiFi technology in your phone dictates how fast your phone can use the internet. Ming Chin Kuo, another Apple leaker, is suggesting that the iPhone 16 will use next-generation WiFi 7 technology.

This could allow the new iPhone to reach speeds of up to 40Gb/s. By utilising 320MHz channels, WiFi 7 could be up to 2.4x faster than the current WiFi 6. It’s unclear whether this will be limited to iPhone 16 Pro models, but if so, the standard iPhone 16 will almost certainly get upgraded to WiFi 6E.

Conclusion

So, how is the iPhone 16 shaping up?

Apple was probably hoping that Vision Pro would give them the ‘win’ this year over its competition. But, if the AI integration trend is followed by other brands, then Apple will have to focus on the iPhone as much as any other year.

The iPhone 16 can’t just be another incremental upgrade on the iPhone 15. There has to be something meaty there, which should come from artificial intelligence. Whether they like it or not, Apple has to play the AI game at some point.

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FAQ

Is the iPhone 16 coming out?

We’re expecting to see the iPhone 16 in September 2024 if Apple sticks to their historical smartphone release schedule.

Will iPhone 16 be a big change?

Apple is rumoured to be changing the camera sensor layout to a vertical format, a bit like the iPhone 12. This is so the new iPhone can shoot spatial video for Vision Pro. Apple is also likely to incorporate extensive AI capabilities into iOS 18 such as upgrades to Siri and generative features like message suggestions.

How big is the iPhone 16?

There are no confirmed dimensions yet, but rumours suggest slightly larger iPhones in 2024. The standard iPhone 16 will be 6.1 inches, the iPhone 16 Pro 6.3 inches and the iPhone 16 Pro Max: 6.9 inches.

Will the iPhone 16 have titanium?

The iPhone 16 will use the same Grade 5 Titanium as the iPhone 15.

Photo by N.Tho.Duc on Unsplash