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Next Year’s iPhone Could Have a Brand-New Look

September 14, 2016, 3:50 PM UTC
Apple Holds Press Event To Introduce New iPhone
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 07: A new Apple iPhone 7 is seen during a launch event on September 7, 2016 in San Francisco, California. Apple Inc. unveiled the latest iterations of its smart phone, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, the Apple Watch Series 2, as well as AirPods, the tech giant's first wireless headphones. (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)
Stephen Lam — Getty Images

Apple has some big changes in store for next year’s iPhone, according to a new report.

Apple has decided that it will continue to produce iPhones without headphone jacks, and plans to offer an iPhone next year that will come with an all-glass face and a Touch ID button baked directly into the glass, The New York Times is reporting, citing two sources who claim to have knowledge of its plans. The move would effectively turn the entire face of next year’s iPhone into a touch-enabled surface.

The news comes a week after Apple unveiled its iPhone 7 and just days before its latest smartphone hits store shelves. Although the iPhone 7 comes with updated components to improve its processing power, it also comes with a design that looks somewhat similar to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s that launched in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Its design has been criticized by some who say Apple (AAPL) should have offered a bigger upgrade. And its elimination of the headphone jack has caused some concern among those who have long clung to tethered headphones.

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Despite those concerns, if the Times‘ sources are correct, Apple won’t back down on its headphone move. Historically, once Apple has removed something, it doesn’t bring it back. And headphones, like disc drives and Adobe Flash support that came before it, seem like the next casualty of Apple’s drive for the future.

But it’s the idea that Apple would offer a new iPhone design next year that might intrigue buyers. It’s true that the iPhone 7 isn’t a substantial design upgrade over last year’s model and the company historically has delivered such major upgrades every other year. There was some hope, therefore, that the iPhone 7 would deliver a substantial upgrade over the iPhone 6s.

However, several reports have surfaced in recent months suggesting Apple is slowing its major-upgrade cycle to every three years instead of two. There’s also reportedly some concern in Cupertino that next year will be the 10th anniversary of its iPhone’s launch, and not offering a major update in 2017 could be a problem. So, it’s possible Apple delivered some design tweaks this year in anticipation of a major, 10-year-anniversary upgrade in 2017.

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In fact, over the last several months, rumors have been circulating that echo what the Times’ sources are saying. Namely, they say that next year’s iPhone will come with an all-glass body, as well as a Touch ID button that would live under the glass and respond with haptic feedback like a slight vibration. It’s unknown, however, whether the iPhone would be known as the iPhone 7s, the iPhone 8, or something else related to its 10-year anniversary.

Of course, the notoriously secretive Apple isn’t saying what its plans are, and the company likely won’t until next year for fear of overshadowing this year’s iPhone launch. But it’s looking increasingly likely that the 2017 iPhone will be a major upgrade even over this year’s model.

Apple’s iPhone 7 launches on Friday.