iPhone 16: release date rumours, spec leaks and what features to expect

Smartphone: Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max on a wooden table with a street scene on screen.
(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

We're less than three months away from the rumoured launch of the iPhone 16, and we have plenty of hints on what to expect.

Apple recently spilled the beans on iOS 18 at its annual WWDC developers conference. Given that the iPhone 16 is a dead cert to run iOS 18, we can deduce plenty about the handset's abilities. We've explored what features the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system will bring to the iPhone 16.

Once again, Apple is rumoured to have two Pro models of iPhone in the works to go alongside the standard iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Plus. While the Pro Max model is always the top-of-the-range in terms of specs, this year's is said to be taller, wider and thicker than the iPhone 15 Pro Max. It was already rumoured to have a bigger screen, but now two respected tipsters have (possibly) revealed exactly how much bigger the actual handset will be.

Want more rumours on the iPhone 16 Pro and Pro Max? We've created a page dedicated to those two handsets – head there if you're eyeing up one of Apple's premium smartphones for 2024.

Finally, Samsung usually unveils some folding phones in July or August, so we're likely just weeks away from its next Galaxy Unpacked event. Could we see some fresh competition for the iPhone 16? Watch this space...

iPhone 16 release date prediction

The iPhone launch is an established date on the tech calendar. We have new TVs announced at CES in January, the new Samsung Galaxy S handset in mid-January or February, and a new iPhone every September.

Exactly when in September is a little harder to narrow down. And it's too early for any launch dates to leak. The last few iPhones have been announced on these dates:

  • iPhone 11: 10th September, 2019
  • iPhone 12: 13th October, 2020
  • iPhone 13: 14th September, 2021
  • iPhone 14: 7th September, 2022
  • iPhone 15: 12th September, 2023

Apart from the iPhone 12 – which was delayed by the global pandemic – all recent iPhones have launched in early to mid September. Hence the week commencing 9th September 2024 is a good guess for the iPhone 16.

iPhone 16 price estimate

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max held in front of a back door showing Ted Lasso on screen

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi? / Apple TV+, Ted Lasso)

Again, it's too early for Apple to have set the iPhone 16's price just yet. But we can certainly estimate.

The iPhone 15 range launched as below:

  • iPhone 15: £799 / $799 / AU$1499 (128GB); £899 / $899 / AU$1699 (256GB); £1099 / $1099 / AU$2049 (512GB)
  • iPhone 15 Plus: £899 / $899 / AU$1649 (128GB); £999 / $999 / AU$1849 (256GB); £1199 / $1199 / AU$2199 (512GB)
  • iPhone 15 Pro: £999 / $999 / AU$1849 (128GB); £1099 / $1099 / AU$2049 (256GB); £1299 / $1299 / AU$2399 (512GB); £1499 / $1499 / AU$2749 (1TB)
  • iPhone 15 Pro Max: £1199 / $1199 / AU$2199 (256GB); £1399 / $1399 / AU$2549 (512GB); £1599 / $1599 / AU$2899 (1TB)

These prices were actually slightly lower than expected. What with the price of everything increasing, and all the improvements Apple made to the handset (not to mention Apple CEO Tim Cook saying that people were willing to pay more for such a quality device), all signs pointed to a price increase. But it didn't happen.

Can Apple keep the price down this year? Difficult to say. If it does follow through and increase the screen size for some models, as is rumoured, it might use this to justify a price increase. But the price bump would most likely be modest to avoid turning off potential customers. The Samsung Galaxy S24 starts at the same price as the iPhone 15 (though the S24 is slightly cheaper in Australia), which again suggests no big price increase for the iPhone 16.

iPhone 16 screen rumours

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max in landscape on a wooden table showing Ted Lasso

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi? / Apple TV+, Ted Lasso)

The iPhone's screen size options could change for the first time in years, if one rumour is to be believed.

According to display analyst Ross Young, the iPhone 16 Pro and Pro Max could have slightly bigger screens than their iPhone 15 counterparts. Young says the Pro will grow to 6.3 inches (up from 6.1) and the Pro Max to 6.9 inches (from 6.7). Bloomberg's Mark Gurman – an authority on all things Apple – agrees, saying the screen on the iPhone 16 Pro models could grow by 0.2 inches.

If true, this would be the first change in size for the Pro models since the introduction of the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max back in 2020. It would also make the display on the iPhone 16 Pro Max the biggest iPhone screen ever.

The iPhone 16 and 16 Plus are thought to stay at the same 6.1- and 6.7-inch sizes as their iPhone 15 equivalents.

That would mean the following sizes.

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

Here's how they would look from behind, courtesy of reliable tipster Sonny Dickson.

Bigger screens would mean more space for gaming controls, as well as a more immersive viewing experience. Ideal for fans of games and movies alike, then. Though you might need bigger pockets to accommodate it...

Bigger screens will also sap battery life quicker, right? Not necessarily, as the iPhone 16 displays could be more power efficient. Samsung Display is reportedly developing a new material set specifically for Apple. The tech, called M14, replaces the blue fluorescent technology currently used with blue phosphorescence tech, which makes the screen more power efficient than the LTPO displays on current iPhone Pro models. According to The Elec, the M14 will debut in iPhones in 2024.

The screens could also be brighter, thanks to the use of Micro Lens Array (MLA) tech. This was seen in LG's excellent G3 OLED TV (and its follow-up, the G4), and helps to boost brightness by using tiny internal lenses (or 'lenslets') to redirect reflections. These can either be directed to boost the on-screen picture brightness, or to maintain it at the current level but increase efficiency by using less power, hence extending battery life. But as yet Apple is still only considering the tech, and so hasn't committed to it, according to Korean publication The Elec.

What about the new tandem OLED tech that Apple debuted in the OLED iPad Pro? Could the iPhone 16 Pro models offer the same Ultra Retina XDR display, as suggested by Daring Fireball's John Gruber? (This combines the brightness of two OLED panels, delivering 1000 nits of SDR brightness and 1600 nits of peak HDR). The OLED iPhone 15 models already reach brightness levels of around the same as the new iPad Pro, so some think the extra expense wouldn't be worth what would be only a marginal gain in brightness. Having said that, 'marginal gains' has been the byword of new iPhones in recent years, so don't write it off just yet...

One tipster reckons the iPhone 16 Pro will be brighter than the new OLED iPad Pro's screen. A Weibo user calling themselves Instant Digital (via MacRumors) says the iPhone 16 Pro's screen will be 20 per cent brighter than the iPhone 15 Pro and new OLED iPad Pro, with standard SDR brightness of 1200 nits. (That would be the first boost in brightness for the iPhone since the iPhone 13 Pro in 2021.) Peak HDR brightness is thought to remain unchanged at 1600 nits.

Whichever screen tech Apple opts for, the displays are greenlit for production, according to one report. Korean publication The Elec (via MacRumors) reports that both Samsung Display and LG Display have been granted approval for mass production of the iPhone 16 Pro and Pro Max's OLED screens. Samsung Display is said to be supplying all four models of iPhone 16, while LG Display is thought to be making screens for only the Pro models.

The bigger screen could also impact the phone's dimensions. According to IceUniverse and Instant Digital (both posting on Chinese social network Weibo, via MacRumors), the iPhone 16 Pro Max will be taller, wider and thicker than the 15 Pro Max. The iPhone 16 Pro Max is rumoured to have dimensions of 163.024 x 77.575 x 8.26mm, compared to the 15 Pro Max's 159.9 x 76.7 x 8.25mm. It's not a massive increase in any direction, but it would make a big phone even bigger. Its bezels will reportedly be the smallest of any smartphone ever made, though.

iPhone 16 design whispers

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max held in front of a side table with Ted Lasso on screen

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi? / Apple TV+, Ted Lasso)

One of the biggest on-off rumours about the iPhone 16 concerns whether it will have any physical buttons at all. This one has been doing the rounds for a while – the iPhone 15 Pro was rumoured to have capacitive volume and power buttons in place of the standard push buttons. The iPhone 16 was subsequently rumoured to have one capacitive button, known internally as the Capture button. Now comes word that all of the iPhone 16's buttons will be capacitive.

That applies to all four buttons (Action, power, volume and Capture) on all iPhone 16 variants, according to Chinese news outlet Economic Daily (via AppleInsider). It reports that a semiconductor supplier has been given a large order for capacitive buttons by Apple. Though given that it's not due to ramp up production until the third quarter (i.e. right before the iPhone 16 launch), it's more likely that the phone will have one capacitive button at first, with subsequent-generation models possibly having more.

What's the point of capacitive buttons? Longevity. Because they have fewer moving parts, they're less prone to wear and tear, meaning they should last longer. They would also be sensitive to pressure (and so react differently depending on how hard you push them) and respond with tiny vibrations known as haptic feedback, so it feels like they're moving when they aren't. They're said to work in the same way as the capacitive 'click' on Apple's Magic Trackpad.

Looking ahead, one analyst has some thoughts on the design of the iPhone 17. Jeff Pu (via GSM Arena) reckons the iPhone 17 Plus will be renamed iPhone 17 Slim, and be the slimmest model in the 2025 line-up. He predicts it will have a 6.6-inch screen.

iPhone 16 camera rumours

Blue Apple iPhone 12 Mini seen from behind at a 3/4 angle on a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone's camera is one of the best around, and every year, is one of Apple's focal points (if you'll excuse the pun) for improving the handset. In 2024, it might get a more powerful zoom.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reckons the iPhone 16 Pro will get the same 5x optical zoom system as the 16 Pro Max (the 15 Pro only has a 3x optical zoom). However, this could have a knock-on effect to the design, and necessitate a thicker body for the 16 Pro.

The iPhone 16 Pro Max could be in for a more significant upgrade, according to one rumour. A leaker on Chinese social media site Weibo (via MacRumors) says that the top model will boast a new Sony IMX903 sensor instead of the iPhone 15 Pro Max's IMX803. It will reportedly still be 48MP resolution but should lead to photographic improvements – though what exactly they will be isn't known. The iPhone 16 Pro Max's ultra-wide camera could also upgrade to 48MP from the 15 Pro Max's 12MP – quite a jump.

The same source also says that the iPhone 16 Pro will boast a 48MP ultra-wide camera (the 15 Pro only has a 12MP sensor). Its telephoto camera is rumoured to be upgraded to match the 15 Pro Max's 5x zoom.

The cameras could have a new look too, from the rear at least. According to a Twitter user called Unknownz21 (via MacRumors), the standard iPhone 16 and 16 Plus could have a vertical camera arrangement, like that of the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini (pictured). It's thought that this layout – as opposed to the diagonal arrangement used since – could help the phones capture spatial video for Apple's Vision Pro augmented reality headset.

You can see how the vertical-aligned cameras would look from the Sonny Dickson photo in the 'Screen' section earlier in this article.

iPhone 16 features hearsay

iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max seen from the front and behind standing vertically against a black background

(Image credit: Apple)

That's the price, release date, screens and cameras covered. But what about the all-important features and specs?

One surprising rumour (via MacRumors) says that all four iPhone 16 variants will feature a new A18 processor. This would break from the norm, as currently the Pro and non-Pro models have different-generation chips: the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus feature the same A16 Bionic as the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, while the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max have the A17 Pro processor.

But maybe it wouldn't be such a change after all. According to analyst Jeff Pu (the source of the rumour), the iPhone 16 Pro variants would feature the A18 Bionic Pro, with the non-Pro models running on the standard A18 processor. So there would still be some difference in performance between the Pro and non-Pro models.

Pu claims the A18 chip will be manufactured with TSMC's 3 nanometer process. It's likely only power users would notice the difference in performance between the two chips.

We could see more artificial intelligence used in the iPhone 16, too. Mark Gurman predicts iOS 18 – the operating system that will launch with the iPhone 16 – will feature upgraded AI tech capable of improving "how both Siri and the Messages app can field questions and auto-complete sentences." A crucial part of this could be the use of large language models, which are used to train the virtual assistant and make it smarter. The Information claims this will be enabled via a software update sometime in 2024.

With Samsung going all in on artificial intelligence for the Galaxy S24 (including circle to search functionality and real-time translation during phone calls), more AI is a dead cert for the iPhone 16. But it might not be homegrown. According to Bloomberg, Apple is in talks to license Google's Gemini AI technology for use cases like image and text generation. Gemini also powers the AI on Samsung's Galaxy S24, so the two phones could have very similar AI features.

On-device AI features might only be available on the iPhone 16 range and iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max models, according to Gurman. That's because they would require compatible chipsets. But AI features that don't require on-device processing could be available on more iPhones.

On the physical side, we can expect the Action button to come to all four iPhone 16 variants (at present it's only on the iPhone 15 Pro models). This is according to MacRumors. The Action button replaced the mute switch, and is customisable, and so can be set to enable the phone's torch, camera and a specific Focus mode, among others. According to the same site, the button will look the same as the current one (previously its design was rumoured to change).

We could also see an extra 'Capture' button on the same side as the power button – though at the moment its function is unknown.

A new thermal design using graphene could be on the cards to combat overheating (via MacRumors). This was a problem on some iPhone 15 models, until Apple fixed it with a software update.

Apple might use a new kind of flash memory, which could impact on usage, according to DigiTimes. Quad-Level Cell (QLC) NAND Flash would be an upgrade on Apple's current Triple-Level Cell (TLC) NAND Flash, as it would allow more storage in a smaller physical space, either allowing for higher-capacity storage options (2TB, anyone?) or cheaper existing capacities. But it could also mean slower read and write speeds – Apple could lessen this by customising it, but that would eat into the savings it would make. Would you sacrifice a bit of performance for more storage or a cheaper iPhone?

Analyst Jeff Pu (via MacRumors) reckons the standard iPhone 16 and 16 Plus will have more RAM than their existing equivalents – 8GB compared to 6GB for the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus. Which would help with performance, especially in light of the potentially slower QLC NAND Flash.

A folding iPhone is the rumour that refuses to die – it's been doing the rounds ever since the first foldable phones emerged. But it's just had a fresh outing, courtesy of a Twitter user leaking Apple's roadmap, which reportedly originated from Korean financial services company Samsung Securities. This says a foldable iPhone will arrive in 2026, with an iPhone SE 4 supposedly arriving in 2025. The usual disclaimers about pinches of salt apply.

iPhone 16: our take

Bigger and brighter screens, processors with more grunt, a better zoom... the iPhone 16 is shaping up well, and it's still four months away! A lot will hinge on price – Apple reported a near 3 per cent rise in iPhone sales in its November 2023 report, a lot of which was undoubtedly down to the lack of a price hike. If it can do the same again, it could be onto a winner.

But that's a big 'if'. While inflation is falling around the world, the cost of materials and energy continue to rise, just at a slower rate. Which makes producing devices like iPhones an expensive business. The new iPad Pro is more expensive than its predecessor. Does that suggest the iPhone 16 will follow suit?

Then there's the competition. September is a long way off, and plenty of rivals could leapfrog Apple before then. Samsung's Galaxy S24 is very impressive – the four-star Galaxy S24 Ultra makes a promising start with AI in a smartphone. And Sony's Xperia models are always among the best smartphones for music and movies – while the new Xperia 1 VI ditches a couple of its most movie-centric features, it still looks like a force to be reckoned with.

We'll keep this feature updated with more iPhone 16 rumours, news and leaks as they come.

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Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.

  • JR75
    This is one reason why Apple is a Trillion dollar company. These Apple-Heads who can't wait to throw their money at Apple every time they release something. With the iPhone 15 barely 2 months old, the Apple crazies are already speculating on the next version. I heard Apple is talking about getting rid of their entire marketing division because all they have to do is put the Apple brand on something and millions of fanatics will buy it. My understanding is in 2024, Apple is releasing an Apple iAbacus. It is just an old fashioned abacus, but if they charge 1200.00 dollars for it, stick the Apple logo on it, and call it magical - people will line up to pay for it and then talk endlessly about what a revolutionary mathematical device it is.
    Reply
  • Friesiansam
    Yet another article based solely on unsubstantiated rumours.
    Reply