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

Smartphone: Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max
(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

We know, the iPhone 16 is likely eight months from launch and we're already looking forward to it. But the rumours are gathering, and with good cause – Apple's smartphone is a juggernaut in the world of tech, and where it goes, rival brands tend to follow. Hence it's a good barometer for what to expect on the AV side of portable tech.

Not only that, it also feeds into Apple's product ecosystem, sitting alongside the Apple TV 4K streaming box, HomePod smart speaker and AirPods wireless headphones. So any tweak in the iPhone could have big ramifications for these devices too. And where these devices lead, rivals tend to... well, you know the rest.

So how will the iPhone 16 improve on the excellent iPhone 15 range? And how will it compare to the recently-announced Samsung Galaxy S24? Time for a trip to the rumour mill...

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. Past 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

Smartphone: Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max

(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

Smartphone: Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max

(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 non-Pro models are thought to remain at 6.1 inches for the standard iPhone 16, and 6.7 inches for the iPhone 16 Plus. This would provide another point of difference between the Pro and non-Pro models.

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 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,.

iPhone 16 camera hearsay

Apple iPhone 12 mini

(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 could 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 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.

iPhone 16 features hearsay

iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max

(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.

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.

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 eight 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.

Then there's the competition. September is a long way off, and plenty of rivals could leapfrog Apple before then. Samsung's Galaxy S24 looks very impressive – our hands-on with the Galaxy S24 Ultra left us feeling optimistic for what AI can bring to the smartphone party. And Sony's Xperia models are always among the best smartphones for music and movies – we're expecting new handsets for 2024.

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

MORE:

Browse today's best Apple deals: iPhone, iPad, HomePod

iPhone 15 vs iPhone 15 Plus: what's different?

Check out the best Android phones for fans of Google

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