Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • A new A18 system-on-chip is likely to arrive in both the iPhone 16 and 16 Pro, potentially with an “A18 Pro” faster version.
  • The iPhone 16 could replace the mute switch with an “Action” button and introduce a new “Capture” button.
  • Expect larger iPhone 16 Pro models, a slim vertical camera bump for the iPhone 16, an increase to 8GB of RAM across all models, and potentially a slight price increase.

It’s almost time for Apple to unveil 2024’s iPhone lineup, and the rumor mill is swirling. While we won’t know for sure until Apple’s September event, let’s take a look at what leaks and speculation suggest is coming this year.

A New A18 System-on-Chip

If there’s one change that’s pretty much guaranteed in the iPhone 16 and 16 Pro, it’s that Apple will be upgrading the guts of the device. MacRumors reports that a private X (Twitter) account with a proven track record claims that both the iPhone 16 and its Pro counterpart will use an A18 system-on-chip (SoC).

Apple A17 Pro SoC found in the iPhone 15 Pro

Apple may reserve the highest-performing chips for the more expensive model, with possible “A18 Pro” style branding. This should be a decent upgrade for the base-model iPhones considering the iPhone 15’s use of the older A16 SoC.

No More Mute Switch for the iPhone 16

Apple’s iPhone Pro models often signal changes that will trickle down to the base models in future revisions. Last year’s iPhone 15 Pro ditched the mute switch, instead replacing it with an “Action” button like the one found on the Apple Watch Ultra. This year’s iPhone 16 could receive the same treatment.

Volume buttons and Action Button on the Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

So-called dummy iPhone 16 models posted by X (Twitter) user Sonny Dickson depict a full range of iPhone models with an Action button in place of the mute toggle. As per the iPhone 15 Pro, this button can be used in the same way or reprogrammed. This allows you to use the button for other purposes like triggering a Shortcut, recording a voice memo, and turning on your device’s flashlight.

On the iPhone 15 Pro, mute functionality can be accessed via Control Center instead. For those of us whose iPhones are always muted, the loss of a physical toggle in favor of more useful button would be a win.

A New Capture Button

In addition to the “Action” button, dummy iPhone models also suggest that Apple could be adding yet another button to the iPhone 16 and 16 Pro. This is depicted as being on the same edge of an iPhone as the “Side” button currently used to lock or wake the device.

Dubbed the “Capture” button, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports that it could be used to record video, while The Information claims that the button will be mechanical but able to respond to pressure and touch. This could open up a world of possibilities in terms of gestures.

An obvious use case would be to control zoom while framing a shot, but Apple could put the feature to use elsewhere in iOS. Best of all it should make launching your iPhone camera and shooting pictures easier than ever.

A Better iPhone 16 Pro Camera System

Apple’s pricier Pro models tend to see the latest camera technology first, and 2024 looks set to continue the trend. A report on MacRumors sourced to a Weibo leaker suggests that the iPhone 16 Pro will see a 48-megapixel ultra-wide camera sensor, up from the 12-megapixel ultra-wide on the iPhone 15 Pro.

The back of a natural color Apple iPhone 15 Pro.
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek

If the rumors are true then that would leave only the telephoto camera at 12 megapixels, though The Elec reports that both iPhone 16 Pro models will see a 5x magnification (not just the Max model).

Larger iPhone 16 Pro Models

Another rumor tied to the dummy iPhone model leak suggests that Apple is increasing the size of its Pro Models in 2024 to 6.3” and 6.9”, up from 6.1” and 6.7” in the iPhone 15 Pro. The thickness of the device is not expected to change, but the weight will probably increase slightly.

The base model iPhone 16 is not expected to differ in size from last year’s iPhone 15.; There are also no signs that Apple will bring back the delightfully small iPhone mini.

Slightly Better Display Technology

Both iPhone models already use beautiful OLED panels, but a report from Korean blog The Elec suggests that Apple has considered the use of a micro lens array (MLA) to increase brightness in 2024’s models. MLAs would allow Apple to boost brightness without increasing power consumption.

Alternatively, Apple could settle for the same levels of brightness as seen in existing models while reducing power consumption and preserving battery life.

Faster Wi-Fi

Min-Chi Kuo, the so-called “best Apple analyst on the planet,” singled out the iPhone 16 range for a Wi-Fi 7 upgrade in a post on X (Twitter) in 2023. MacRumors has since tempered expectations based on a report from Jeff Pu that the iPhone 16 will receive Wi-Fi 6E support instead (as seen on the iPhone 15 Pro).

Wi-Fi 7 Certified sign by a TP Link router at CES 2024.
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

Both upgrades are welcome, with Wi-Fi 7 bringing speeds of around 30Gbps and Wi-Fi 6E utilizing the 6GHz band to top out at around 9.6Gbps. You will of course need a router compatible with these standards, and that router will need to support whatever speeds you hope to achieve.

8GB of RAM on All Models

According to the same Jeff Pu report, Apple will be bumping the RAM up to 8GB in all models this year. Last year’s iPhone 15 Pro already had 8GB, but the base models only featured 6GB.

The final form of Lady Dimitrescu from Resident Evil Village flies overhead on the iPhone 15 Pro.

Last year’s iPhone 15 Pro was touted as a gaming beast, and was one of a handful of mobile Apple devices able to run AAA games like Resident Evil: Village and Death Stranding. Since this year’s models are rumored to be using the same or similar A18 systems-on-chip, increasing RAM allocation to close the gap makes sense if Apple wants to tempt more publishers to see the iPhone as more than just a mobile gaming platform.

Slim Vertical Camera Bump for iPhone 16

While it’s not exactly the most exciting change, leaked dummy iPhone 16 models suggest that Apple is adopting a vertical camera array in the base model iPhone 16 for 2024. The refreshed design features a slimmer camera bump, which should make it easier for case manufacturers to design a case that sits fully flat on a table.

The last iPhone to see this style of slim vertical camera array was the iPhone XS, back in 2018.

A Potentially More Expensive Price Tag

Since component prices have risen, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Apple increase the price of this year’s iPhone 16 and 16 Pro models. Apple didn’t increase the price of either the base or the Pro models last year.

The iPhone 16 Ultra?

It wouldn’t be a rumor roundup if we didn’t mention the iPhone Ultra, a long-rumored high-end variant of the iPhone. Rumors about this model first surfaced in 2023, but the device never materialized. A MacRumors report that iOS 18 refers only to four iPhone models has quelled speculation that a fifth high-end model could launch in September.

Don’t hold your breath for this one.

Speculation and Rumor

Only Apple knows for sure what this year’s iPhone models will bring. Though it seems to get harder each year for Cupertino to keep secrets, there’s every chance that Apple will surprise us with something unexpected when the iPhone 16 and 16 Pro finally launch sometime in September 2024.

Before then we’ll see what’s cooking in iOS 18 which will be unveiled at WWDC24 in June.

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By John P.

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