Every other year, Apple comes out with "S" model iPhones that enhance and speed up their main series models from the previous year, and the rumor mill chugs along nicely right up into their very announcement. However, this year, because of the highly-anticipated 10th anniversary iPhone, aka the iPhone 8, the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus have almost been forgotten about — but that doesn't mean they are obsolete.
While they are usually only incremental upgrades to the main series, the S models usually have at least one big game-changing feature to get you interested. The iPhone 3GS had improved "speed," the iPhone 4S gained "Siri," the iPhone 5S included better "security" (i.e., Touch ID), and the iPhone 6S included "sensitive" touch controls (3D Touch).
So the big questions here are if the iPhone 7S models are coming in the fall, which big feature will they get and how will they compete against the rumored iPhone 8 model? Only time will tell, but we have a few ideas of what the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus could look like come September 2017.
Besides Apple releasing S model iPhones every other year since the 3GS, we feel pretty confident the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus are legit and coming this fall.
Rumors from Foxconn, the manufacturer of iPhones, confirmed Apple placed orders for the S models. Reports are uncertain about whether or not the 10th anniversary iPhone will ship on time, but it seems safe to say that we'll see the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus slightly updated into S models later this year.
However, in the scramble of iPhone rumors, some publications have attributed features thought only to be for the iPhone 8 to the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus, so there's no telling whether or not any of these are true. And since the iPhone 8 is expected to get a lot of big new features, which one will the 7S models retain to make Apple fans want to upgrade?
We don't know what that feature would be, but these are the key features rumored for the iPhone 8 that might find their way to the 7S and 7S Plus.
You never know the day of release until Apple announces it, but based on past releases, it would be safe to say that Apple will announce and release the new S models in September or October, although Apple hasn't released an iPhone in October since the 4S. Depending on whether or not the iPhone 8 makes its way to release in 2017, the S models may have to pull the slack until it's ready.
The iPhone 7S and 7S Plus are both expected to maintain their 7 and 7 Plus size equivalents. So expect about 5.44 inches by 2.64 inches for the 7S and 6.23 inches by 3.07 inches for the 7S Plus. Thinness will most likely stay the same at around 0.28–0.29 inches. However, the screen size itself may increase slightly beyond the 4.7 and 5.5-inch screens on the 7 models.
While Samsung and Google have moved onto more battery-efficient OLED displays, Apple has yet to move away from LCDs on their mobile devices. However, some rumors speculate that the 7S and 7S Plus will finally go the OLED route. If so, we're not betting that the 7S models will get an edge-to-edge version that the media has so heavily speculated about for the iPhone 8.
Of course, other rumors contradict the OLED display, claiming the S models will ship with Retina LCDs, keeping with Apple convention. We're betting, though, that the OLED is real for the S lineup, but not edge-to-edge.
While the OLED vs. LCD battle is still raging hard, one display feature that could be a sure fit for either the iPhone 7S or iPhone 8 models is Apple's True Tone feature. It was introduced on Apple's latest iPad Pros and causes the display to change color temperatures based on your environment. This provides a more comfortable viewing experience and would be a great benefit to iPhone users — especially the Plus size models.
Engadget posted concept drawings based on leaked iPhone 8 data, which show off the embedded Touch ID. However, some have concerns over the fact that the drawings do not indicate an edge-to-edge display. Considering that is one of the hot-button iPhone 8 features, there is an argument to make that these concepts seem to resemble the look for the 7S and 7S Plus instead. In that case, S model fans may be getting embedded Touch ID sooner than they may have thought.
An embedded Touch ID would work whether it's in an OLED display or LCD. OLED has better responsiveness to touch, but either display is capable of such a feature.
The 7S Plus is rumored to bring optical image stabilization (OIS) to both of its cameras. Currently, only the wide angle lens on the 7 Plus has OIS, while the telephoto lens does not. This would be a welcome change for photographers and videographers looking to shoot telephoto in motion. The 7S will retain OIS for its one rear camera.
With Tim Cook's growing interest in augmented reality, there have been many rumors that the next iPhone will come with a 3D camera system designed for AR. It's entirely possible this feature will make it's way to the S models, although that rumor is not as widespread as OLED or embedded Touch ID.
Apple has been rumored to bring facial recognition to its smartphones to complement its Touch ID technology. It works well on phones like the Samsung Galaxy S8, allowing users to unlock their phones by just looking at the camera, but Apple is likely making security stronger to prevent any obvious bypasses such as a photograph. To make it stronger, they front cameras would likely use two lenses and/or infrared sensors.
The iPhone 8 seems to be the most likely of the upcoming iPhones to receive this feature, but there has been talk about it finding its way to the S models. Plus, this would be that killer one feature that could make an S model stand out.
If there's one thing guaranteed with each new S model (with each new iPhone, in fact), it's that Apple upgrades its chipset. Considering the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are built with Apple's A10 chip, it would make sense the rumors point to the 7S and 7S Plus to ship with the A11. After all, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus had the A9, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus the A8, and so on.
The big change here isn't big at all. Reports show the A11 chip will utilize 10 nm technology, which is both tiny and what other manufacturers now build their chipsets with, like the Snapdragon. This new technology is more efficiency and speedier, which should reflect performance boosts on the S models compared to the 7 and 7 Plus.
There are rumors the 7S and 7S Plus will feature 3 GB of RAM. If true, this news would be a minor upgrade from the current models, as only the 7 Plus currently has 3 GB of RAM (the 7 has 2 GB). However, other rumors contradict this, and claim the 7S will only ship with 2 GB of RAM.
There haven't been many rumors about the storage capacities on the upcoming S model iPhones, but Apple is expected to keep its options from this year (32 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB). These are good overall storage capacities for almost any type of user.
The iPhone 7S and 7S Plus are rumored to add fast charging, a feature that many smartphone manufacturers have been implementing for years. This means you won't need an iPad charger for your iPhone anymore to get some quick juice!
The rumors seem to indicate the phones will retain the Lightning port but will be powered by USB Type-C technology. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro already supports faster USB-C charging with a Lightning to USB Type-C cable, so you can expect this on the 7S and 7S Plus, too.
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes the 2017 iPhones will feature wireless charging, making the claim more than once. This should sit well with Apple fans who have long awaited wireless charging to come to the iPhone.
The rumor is Apple will make all three 2017 iPhones out of glass, scraping the aluminum casing used since the iPhone 6. That would be great news, as Apple hasn't made any significant changes to the iPhone's design since the 6, and the return to glass means wireless charging is almost a sure thing.
The 7S and 7S Plus models are rumored to retain the IP67 rating that the 7 and 7 Plus models had.
Apple isn't known for making cheap products, and that can be painfully clear when purchasing a brand new iPhone, but it's unavoidable. If you want the 7S or 7S Plus, here's what it might cost you:
According to a report from Goldman Sachs, the 7S may start out at $649, while the 7S Plus may start out at $769. This pricing seems reasonable, considering it is the same pricing model currently established on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The 7 and 7 models will likely drop by $100 each model just like the 6S and 6S Plus did when the 7 models came out.
So what will the "S" stand for this time? Are we any closer to figuring it out? Will the "S" stand for "security" again or perhaps even "stereo camera" with a new facial recognition feature, or will it just be limited to another "speed" round with the faster A11 chip and quick charging capability? If none of these big features make it to the 7S models and are only included on the iPhone 8, the "S" might as well stand for "sucker."
We'll continue to update you as we learn more about iPhone 7S models.