iPhone 7 Rumor Rollup: Wacky new concept designs; 4-inch phone; headphone jack switcheroo

iPhone 7 concept designers envision BlackBerry/iPhone hybrid, plus air jets for smartphone safety!

iPhone 7 Rumor Rollup: Wacky new concept designs; 4-inch phone; headphone jack switcheroo
Credit: Methodshop/Flickr

The few months after an actual new iPhone rolls out can be lean for scuttlebutt seekers, but we’re ecstatic to see that funky new iPhone 7 concept designs are popping up about Apple’s next flagship smartphones, which probably won’t hit the market for about another year.

LATEST GREATEST iPHONE 7 CONCEPTS

Germany’s Curved/Labs has nicely trolled BlackBerry and its new Android-powered Priv smartphone, complete with slide-out physical keyboard. In fact, look closely and you’ll see a message from Apple exec Eddie Cue extolling the virtues of the keyboard to CEO Tim Cook.

But what good is a shiny new iPhone, even one with a physical keyboard, if it’s going to break when you drop it? YouTube user Sonicdat posted a solution, via this iPhone concept of a smartphone with air jets to break the fall. You even get a look inside at the Orientation Speed & Proximity Sensor in this video of the iPhone Parachute System, with CO2 recharging!

GOODBYE HEADPHONE JACK?

Much buzz has circulated over the past week about the possibility of Apple ditching the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack on its phones. It’s actually a rumor that has surfaced before, such as when Forbes wrote about it in June of 2014 shortly after Apple bought audio equipment and music service company Beats Electronics.

As colleague Yoni Heisler writes regarding the latest speculation, the explanation for such a move by Apple would be to make its next device even thinner (Slashgear says that could shave 1mm off the current 7.1mm thinness of an iPhone 6S.)

If the rumor does happen to pan out, it's only natural to wonder what will it be replaced with. To that point, the report adds that Apple is working to develop a Lightning compatible version of its EarPod headphones. The Lightning connector does support audio-out so it's certainly technically possible; the looming question, though, is whether or not it's a smart move from a practical perspective.

Some say it would be just another way for Apple to gain more control, and to perhaps get a bigger bang from the $3.2B it spent buying Beats.

iPHONE 5C RUMORS ARE BACK

Go-to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities is back with more assertions that Apple will release a 4-inch iPhone early next year as a follow-on to the plastic-backed iPhone 5c.

This model (the iPhone 6c?) is expected to have a metal case and support Apple Pay, but will not support all the features of the latest iPhones, such as 3D Touch.

I actually do know at least one person who has been holding out for Apple to carry on its 4-inch tradition, so the company can pencil in one sale for sure.

Apparently the smaller iPhone won’t be big at United Airlines, though, which is doling out big old iPhone 6 Plus phones to more than 6,000 of its customer service reps at its US hubs in 2016.

iphone large United Airlines

United Airlines customer service agents will be outfitted with iPhone 6 Plus smartphones in 2016 (not quite splurging for the iPhone 6S Plus phablet)

SAMSUNG ON THE OUTS?

Of way less interest to the average iPhone user are reports that Apple rival/partner Samsung might be getting pushed aside as a component maker for iPhones.

Boy Genius Report writes that financial firm HSBC writes in a research note that Taiwan’s TSMC is going to be the only A10 chip maker for the iPhone 7. Currently, TSMC and Samsung are said to split production of A9 iPhone chips, with Samsung making more than TSMC, which has developed new technology to make more condensed chips that yes, could mean thinner smartphones. 

While this speculation doesn’t bode well for Samsung, if the company plays its cards right, it could be in the running to make OLED screens for future iPhones, bringing better screen contrast and more power efficiency to users. 

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