iPhone 7: Most-wanted features

With the launch of the iPhone (and iPhone 7 Plus) quickly approaching, it's time to take one last look at our upgrade requests for the next iPhone.

David Carnoy
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
David Carnoy
1 of 12 Martin Hajek

What we want in the next iPhone

The 2016 iPhones -- presumably called the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus -- are expected to be announced the first week of September. We've collected the features we most want to see, along with our guess as to their probability.

For all the latest rumors on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, go to our iPhone 7 rumors roundup page.

2 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

NFC beyond Apple payments

Although Apple's last few iPhone models are equipped with NFC (near-field communication) to enable the contactless Apple Pay system, it has has yet to enable the tap-to-pair feature found in other NFC-enabled smartphones: You can tap a headphone or speaker, for instance, to pair the Bluetooth on many Android phone models. So long as Apple can guarantee security, it seems like this would be an easy addition.

Chances of implementation: 10 percent

3 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

Full waterproofing

I can't tell you exactly how many people drop their phones in the toilet (or another body of water), but many phones do end up getting water-damaged and having to be replaced.

Some of Samsung and Sony's phones are waterproof and even Motorola's entry-level Moto G can be fully submerged in water. (Chck out our Samsung Galaxy pool test.)

iFixit discovered that Apple had engineered the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus to be more water-resistant. But Apple doesn't advertise that they're waterproof. Adding that bullet point to iPhone 7's feature list would help Apple keep up with the Joneses.

Chances of implementation: 33 percent.

4 of 12 Aloysius Low/CNET

USB Type-C connectivity and charging

A lot of people would get upset if Apple switched from its Lightning port to a USB Type-C connection, which is gradually becoming the standard for other smartphones (and some other devices, such as Apple's own 12-inch MacBook). But in long run, it would be good if we could all use one cable for all our gadgets, wouldn't it?

Chances of implementation: Less than 0.01 percent.

5 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Faster processor, improved 3D graphics

Hey, it's an obvious one, but we've gotta say it.

Apple has consistently improved the iPhone's graphics capabilities with each new iteration, and not surprisingly, we've come to expect a performance boost (and would be disappointed if we didn't get one), though we'd sacrifice some power in favor of a big battery boost.

The A9X chip you see here is found in the iPad Pro. The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are powered by the A9, a 64-bit dual-core processor. The rumored (and logical) move is to an A10 chip in the iPhone 7.

The 6S and 6S Plus got a bump in RAM from 1GB to 2GB. The larger iPad Pro has 4GB while the 9.7-inch model has 3GB. Rumor has it we'll see a bump to 3GB of RAM in the iPhone 7 (or 7 Plus), but it wouldn't surprise us if Apple sticks with 2GB.

Chances of implementation: 99 percent

iQi Mobile iPhone
6 of 12 Fone Salesman

Wireless charging

Right now, if you want to charge your iPhone's battery using inductive "wireless" charging, you have to buy a separate charging sleeve (case) and charging mat for your device, like the Fone Salesman's iQi Mobile shown here (it connects to the Lightning port and lives under your nonmetallic case). It uses the Qi (pronounced "chee") standard for inductive charging, an industry group pushing to get more manufacturers to integrate it into their devices. Some phones, like the Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge and Sony Xperia Z4v, already offer it, while others accept Qi-compatible covers or batteries, like Galaxy S5-compatible Wireless Charging S-View Flip Cover ($70, £55, AU$90).

But with 2015's Apple Watch including a magnetic inductive charger, an iPhone with the same technology seems more possible than ever. The catch? Apple hasn't said whether it's using Qi, PMA (Power Matters Alliance) or its own charging standard with the Watch.

Fone Salesman and others make plenty of Qi accessories, including charging pads, that are designed to charge Qi-compatible devices.

Chances of implementation: 20 percent

7 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Shatterproof screen

Back when the iPhone 6 came out, there was lot of chatter that it would sport a shatter-resistant sapphire screen, but that never materialized.

Naturally, the folks at Corning argue that its Gorilla Glass is just as strong -- and a better option than sapphire. The company's new Gorilla Glass 5 made its first appearance in the brand-new Samsung Galaxy Note 7.

We expect the iPhone 7's screen will be even stronger than 2015's reasonably tough iPhone 6S/6S Plus screens, but we have our doubts it'll be truly shatter-resistant like the Motorola Droid Turbo 2's screen is (shown above, getting stomped on).

Chances of implementation: 10 percent

8 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Bigger screen in same body

The iPhone's screen got bigger in 2014, but it has a bigger bezel compared with some Android models that maximize screen size. Take the lineup above: Left to right, it's the Samsung Galaxy S7 (5.2-inch screen); Galaxy S7 Edge (wraparound 5.5-inch screen); iPhone 6S Plus (5.5-inch); and Nexus 6P (5.7-inch). Both Samsung and Google/Huawei are either getting more screen real estate into a smaller body, or more screen into the same-size body. Alas, the latest leaks make it look like the iPhone 7 looks nearly identical to the 6S.

Chances of implementation: 5 percent

9 of 12 Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

32GB entry-level storage

In 2014, Apple doubled the middle- and high-capacity tiers of the iPhone from 32GB to 64GB and 64GB to 128GB, and kept the price the same at each level -- effectively a free storage upgrade. But the entry-level model stayed put at 16GB.

It didn't change anything in 2015 when the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus were released.

With no storage expansion option (as found on some Android models), the entry-level iPhone going forward should include at least 32GB.

Rumor has it that will indeed happen and we may also see a 256GB version (up from 128GB) for those who can afford it.

Chances of implementation: 66 percent

10 of 12

Better camera

The iPhone's camera keeps getting slightly better with each iteration. But there's always room for improvement, and a better camera is one of the main upgrade features people are looking for when they shell out big bucks for a new iPhone. Bringing the optical image stabilization from the 6S Plus to iPhone 7 would be a good start. And rumor has it that at least the larger iPhone 7 Plus (and perhaps the standard iPhone 7) will have dual lenses that will allow for more flexibility while shooting. After an Apple patent filing, the speculation is that one lens would wide-angle while the other telephoto.

Chances of implementation: 100 percent

11 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Significantly better battery life

Apple manages to make each new iPhone slimmer, while equipping it with a faster processor and graphics chip to also improve on battery life. But the truth is, we'd trade a little of that slimness and power for better battery life -- and so would a lot of other people.

We were hoping Apple would really make a statement with much better battery life than that of its Android competitors, but we didn't get that with the last two iPhone releases. However, rumor has it that the iPhone 7 will have a 14 percent higher-capacity battery. But to get that slightly bigger battery in the phone Apple will be removing headphone jack.

There's also some hope that Apple iOS 10, which should be released alongside the iPhone, will be more energy efficient.

Chances of implementation: 10 percent

12 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

Features the iPhone will never have, but we wish it did

Alas, we know the iPhone never have a removable back that allows you to swap in a new battery and add your own microSD memory card (yes, those 64GB cards are pretty cheap now). But hey, we couldn't resist mentioning it.

Chances of implementation: 0 percent

More Galleries

My Favorite Shots From the Galaxy S24 Ultra's Camera
A houseplant

My Favorite Shots From the Galaxy S24 Ultra's Camera

20 Photos
Honor's Magic V2 Foldable Is Lighter Than Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra

Honor's Magic V2 Foldable Is Lighter Than Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra

10 Photos
The Samsung Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus Looks Sweet in Aluminum
Samsung Galaxy S24

The Samsung Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus Looks Sweet in Aluminum

23 Photos
Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra Now Has a Titanium Design
The Galaxy S24 Ultra in multiple colors

Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra Now Has a Titanium Design

23 Photos
I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites

I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites

34 Photos
17 Hidden iOS 17 Features and Settings on Your iPhone
Invitation for the Apple September iPhone 15 event

17 Hidden iOS 17 Features and Settings on Your iPhone

18 Photos
AI or Not AI: Can You Spot the Real Photos?

AI or Not AI: Can You Spot the Real Photos?

17 Photos