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iPhone 16: What Apple May Cook Up for the Next iPhone

The iPhone 16 could bring big changes to the software, particularly in terms of AI. Here's what the rumors are saying about the AI experience as well as the rest of the next iPhone.

Sareena Dayaram Senior Editor
Sareena is a senior editor for CNET covering the mobile beat including device reviews. She is a seasoned multimedia journalist with more than a decade's worth of experience producing stories for television and digital publications across Asia's financial capitals including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mumbai. Prior to CNET, Sareena worked at CNN as a news writer and Reuters as a producer.
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Sareena Dayaram
7 min read
iPhone 15 Pro Max with modified camera lens and the neon number 16 on a black background
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The iPhone 15 has been out for over eight months, and the tech community is already buzzing with anticipation for Apple's next handset, which we expect to be named the iPhone 16.

We've heard whispers about the iPhone 16's features, which are said to span from a new power-efficient display to larger screens, better zoom lenses, an action button and, perhaps not surprisingly, a suite of new AI-powered features.

Read more: Best iPhone of 2024

However, the iPhone 16 is still presumably four months away and nothing will be confirmed until Apple's iPhone event in the fall. Still, these rumors could give us an idea of what to expect from the next iPhone.

Here are the most credible rumors for the iPhone 16.

Will the iPhone 16 fold?

Probably not. The newest rumors suggest Apple has been working on iPhone Flip models in two different sizes, though there have been difficulties in making the devices to Apple's standards. The company may also be working on a folding tablet with a screen around the size of an iPad Mini. Even though virtually every major phone-maker -- from Google to Oppo to OnePlus and Samsung -- have launched their own bendable handsets, Apple has been characteristically quiet about whether there will ever be an iPhone Flip or an iPhone Fold.

Prior rumors said Apple may not launch its own flexible screen device until 2025. Samsung hasn't let phone fans forget it -- by releasing an app that will let Apple phone owners experience a Z Fold-esque experience by placing two iPhones side-by-side.

iPhone 16 design: Slimmer bezels?

The rumors of larger screen sizes are piling in, at least for select iPhone 16 models. The latest is from Korean publication, the Elec, which published an April report saying select iPhone 16 models are poised to adopt an innovative screen technology, resulting in thinner bezels or the frame around the phone's screen. This development could translate to a slightly larger screen area for some iPhone 16 models, although it's not clear which models. 

Apple has historically introduced display upgrades in its pro line of products, before sometimes trickling them down to lower-cost models afterwards. The report says display manufacturers have introduced a novel border reduction structure technology, enabling more compact control circuitry and ultimately leading to slimmer bezels.

iPhone 16 Pro models to get bigger screens?

Speaking of screen sizes, Apple has maintained the two screen sizes for iPhone Pro models since 2020 when it launched the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro and the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max. However, that's rumored to change with the iPhone 16 Pro models, which might get bigger screens.

Display analyst Ross Young suggested earlier this year that the iPhone 16 Pro models will have larger screens, putting the sizes at 6.3 inches for the iPhone 16 Pro and 6.9 inches for the iPhone 16 Pro Max. That rumor was later corroborated by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who said the iPhone 16 Pro models could grow by "a couple tenths of an inch diagonally."

Read more: How the iPhone 16's Design May Change

The iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Plus models are believed to be sticking with the current 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch sizes. If the size increase is accurate, it would be yet another move from Apple to distinguish its Pro iPhone models from its regular ones.

iPhone 15 screen sizes

  • iPhone 15: 6.1 inches
  • iPhone 15 Plus: 6.7 inches
  • iPhone 15 Pro: 6.1 inches
  • iPhone 15 Pro Max: 6.7 inches

Rumored iPhone 16 screen sizes

  • iPhone 16: 6.1 inches
  • iPhone 16 Plus: 6.7 inches
  • iPhone 16 Pro: 6.3 inches
  • iPhone 16 Pro Max: 6.9 inches

iPhone 16 gets more AI tricks

AI is perhaps the biggest tech buzzword this year, and Apple is expected to follow in the footsteps of rivals, Samsung and Google, which each trumpeted the new AI tips and tricks on their flagship phones. Earlier in May, CEO Tim Cook went far as saying he expects Apple have to an edge in AI, though the company is widely seen as being behind in the AI race.

To be sure, Apple's iOS 18 could bring the "biggest" software update in the iPhone's history, according to a January edition of Mark Gurman's Power On newsletter.  Gurman also reported that iOS 18 will feature generative AI technology that "should improve how both Siri and the Messages app can field questions and auto-complete sentences." 

A September report from the Information says Apple plans to use large language models, a crucial part of generative AI, to make Siri smarter. The report said this feature is expected to be released with an iPhone software update next year.  

Read more: iPhone iOS 18: A Possible Big Leap In AI

iPhone 16 design: New action button?

In March, AppleInsider published a collection of photographs purportedly displaying 3D-printed dummy models of the rumored iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Pro. The images revealed that the iPhone 16 may have a vertical camera stack as opposed to a diagonal one and an action button, similar the one on last year's iPhone 15 Pro.

iPhone 16 gets more power-efficient display?

Another change that could make its way to iPhone 16 displays is greater power efficiency. Samsung Display is apparently developing a new material set, dubbed M14, specifically for Apple, according to a TheElec report, which says the new technology should arrive on iPhones launching next year. M14 will replace the blue fluorescent technology that's used now with blue phosphorescence technology, creating an even more power-efficient screen than the current LTPO ones used on Pro models, the report says.

iphone-15-prores-log-video-tutorial
Andrew Lanxon/CNET

iPhone 16 gets better zoom?

Both the iPhone 16 Pro and the iPhone 16 Pro Max could both have 5x telephoto lenses next year. According to Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo, a tetraprism lens will make its way to both Pro models next year, as opposed to just the Pro Max model. Apple equipped the iPhone 15 Pro with a 12-megapixel 3x optical zoom, while the iPhone 15 Pro Max has a 12-megapixel 5x optical zoom camera, which is the equivalent of 120mm lens on a full-frame camera.

If this rumor is true, it could mark a breakthrough in design. When Apple launched the 15 Pro Max with its 5x telephoto lens, it cited the phone's bigger body as to why the Pro Max had it, but the Pro didn't.

Read more: iPhone 16 Camera: What Apple Could Change 

iPhone 16 Pro: Less lens flare?

According to a recent leak discovered by MacRumors, Apple might be exploring a novel approach to enhance photo quality. The rumor suggests that the company could add an anti-reflective technology to its camera manufacturing process. If successful, this could potentially eliminate unwanted artifacts like lens flare, resulting in more realistic photos. 

iPhone 16 processors: A18 chip for all models?

In a break with the past two years, all four iPhone 16 models will apparently get a next-generation Apple chipset, which will all receive A18 branding. According to a MacRumors report citing Jeff Pu, an executive analyst for Haitong International Securities, all four models will have an A18 series chip with Pro iPhone models getting an A18 Bionic Pro and base models getting a regular A18.

The iPhone 15 and 15 Plus currently have an A16 Bionic, which debuted on the 2022 iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max, while the 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max run on the A17 Pro processor. Pu says the A18 chip will be manufactured with TSMC's cutting-edge 3 nanometer process.

Read more: Apple iPhone SE 4 Rumors: iPhone 14 Design, Face ID and More

Apple Event new iPhone 13

Tim Cook unveiling the iPhone 13 in 2021.

Screenshot/CNET

iPhone 16: New colors

Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has color predictions for the iPhone 16 lineup. In a post on X in May, he said that the blue color option of the iPhone 15 Pro would be discontinued and replaced with a new rose model, which would be available for the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max. He also predicted that the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Plus will be available in white, replacing the yellow model.

iPhone 16: Launch and release timeline

Apple holds its annual iPhone event in September almost every year, so we'd expect the timeline to remain the same for the iPhone 16. New iPhones typically get released shortly thereafter, usually the Friday of the following week. Sometimes Apple will stagger release dates for specific models, especially when introducing a new design or size. So it's possible that the iPhone 16 lineup will have more than one release date.

What we know so far

Apple tends to hold its events on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. The iPhone 15 event was held on Tuesday, Sept. 7. The iPhone 14 event was held on Wednesday, Sept. 7. And the iPhone 13 event was held on Tuesday, Sept. 14.

iPhone release dates are typically a week and a half after Apple's announcements.

In general, new iPhones are released on a Friday, around the third week of September. For the iPhone 13, preorders began Sept. 17 and the phones went on sale Sept. 24.