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Why iPhone 7’s ‘Minor Upgrade’ Must Drive Apple’s ‘Turnaround’

June 1, 2016, 2:58 PM UTC
Apple's I Phone 6S : Launch at Apple Opera Store In Paris
PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 25: A customer checks the new iPhone 6s displayed at the Apple Store Opera on September 25, 2015 in Paris, France. Apple launched the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus with more shortcuts and bigger screen than the iPhone 6. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)
Photograph by Chesnot — Getty Images

Yet another market analyst says that the iPhone 7 might not be much to write home about.

In a note on Tuesday, market analyst TrendForce says that the iPhone 7 will feature “minor upgrades,” including a barely modified change to its design. According to TrendForce, which derives its information from supply chain checks, among other sources, the iPhone 7 will be the first iPhone to come with 3GB of onboard memory. It’ll also come with up to 256GB of storage.

“The major hardware highlights include expanded storage for all models and dual-camera specifically for the 5.5-inch model,” TrendForce added. “However, the next iPhone is generally consistent with its predecessor appearance-wise; and more importantly, display is not included in its upgrades.”

TrendForce’s comments follow several earlier reports suggesting that Apple (AAPL) won’t be making major iPhone upgrades this year. Instead, the company will wait until 2017 to deliver the major upgrade customers might be hoping for.

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Those upgrades, according to several reports, include an all-glass enclosure to replace the iPhone’s current metal body, as well as an OLED screen. All previous iPhones have come with LCD screens, which are thicker and don’t deliver the same color quality.

TrendForce was critical of Apple’s purported decision to not upgrade the screen in this year’s iPhone. The market researcher says that screens have long been “central to the iPhone’s appeal.” By not offering a major upgrade the company says, it could potentially hurt a product that will be “critical to Apple’s turnaround” in the smartphone industry.

That said, TrendForce wasn’t so bearish on the iPhone’s appeal. The company estimates that the iPhone 7 will make up a large portion of total iPhone sales. In the third quarter, for instance, TrendForce estimates that iPhone 7 will account for more than 50% of all iPhone sales. That figure will jump to nearly 80% by the fourth quarter. Better yet, the company believes iPhone sales could soar during those quarters.

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Of course, exactly what Apple has planned is unknown at this point. The notoriously secretive company has been silent on its plans for a new iPhone, and despite a growing number of rumors, it’s unknown whether this year’s model will in fact be known as the iPhone 7 or something else entirely.

What is clear, though, is that after its first year-over-year decline in Apple’s last-reported fiscal quarter, the company needs to do something to turn that division around. Apple has said that it remains confident in the iPhone’s broader appeal, but whatever it launches this year could determine just how well its turnaround efforts turn out.