What WWDC tells us about the iPhone 16

The Apple iPhone 15 Plus smartphone lying on a wooden surface. Its homescreen features a grid of app icons with bands of bright red, orange, purple and blue in the background.
(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Apple has taken the wraps off its forthcoming iOS 18 mobile operating system. Due to launch this autumn, iOS 18 is a dead cert to feature on the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Pro, and with artificial intelligence and customisation at its core, it has plenty new to differentiate it from previous versions of iOS.

Apple won't be the first firm to put AI in a smartphone. Samsung introduced some AI elements in its Galaxy S24 earlier this year, while Google has been dabbling in AI with its Pixel phones for years. But because of its scale and influence, Apple's implementation was keenly awaited.

Bear in mind that Apple hasn't announced the iPhone 16 yet. But as sure as night follows day, it should launch this September, running the iOS 18 software Apple detailed last night. Let's see what it'll be capable of.


A series of iPhones on a white background showing various iOS 18 features.

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple's AI implementation is called Apple Intelligence, and Apple claims it's "deeply integrated into iOS 18". It will harness ChatGPT's expertise to let you rewrite, proofread, and summarise text across apps, create images, compile memories in the Photos app by typing a description and edit photos. Siri will also take a massive dose of AI, becoming more "natural, contextually relevant and personal".

Apple claims that Apple Intelligence is "built with privacy from the ground up", and that where data is sent to the cloud for processing it will still be secure. But some disagree. Elon Musk says he will ban Apple devices from his companies if OpenAI (who makes ChatGPT) is integrated at the system level due to security fears. "That is an unacceptable security violation," he tweeted. "And visitors will have to check their Apple devices at the door, where they will be stored in a Faraday cage."

Of Apple's handsets, Apple Intelligence has only been announced for the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max, not the standard iPhone 15 or iPhone 15 Plus. We'll have to wait and see if the non-Pro iPhone 16 models are granted it, or if it remains the preserve of the Pros.


Three iPhones showing customised homescreen layouts.

(Image credit: Apple)

iOS 18 will bring new ways to customise your iPhone. You'll be able to arrange apps how you like, including leaving gaps between them and placing them right above the dock. You can make app icons bigger, and tint them to make them look darker. 

Control Centre has been redesigned and is more customisable and flexible, with quick access to much-used features like media playback.

Better messaging

An iPhone showing a messaging thread on iMessage in iOS 18.

(Image credit: Apple)

iMessage has been given a rethink too. You'll be able to schedule messages to send later (handy for arranging birthday wishes while you remember), add formatting like bold and italics, and the RCS standard is now supported for larger capacity and better reliability when messaging non-iOS users.

You'll also be able to send messages via satellite, if you don't have mobile reception. SOS satellite features are available on the iPhone 14 and later, so expect satellite messaging to be available on all four models of iPhone 16.

Game Mode

An iPhone showing a battle scene from a video game.

(Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone 16 will have a Game Mode. The feature launched on Apple's Mac computers last year (those that run on Apple's Silicon chips, anyway), and is coming to iPhone later this year.

Game Mode minimises background activity while maximising frame rates. It will also enable greater responsiveness with AirPods and game controllers, giving you a competitive advantage.

More AirPods features

A pair of Apple AirPods 3 lying in front of their case on a wooden surface.

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Thanks to Siri Interactions, you'll be able to nod or shake your head to accept or decline Siri announcements. Incoming call interrupting your workout playlist? Just shake your head to reject it.

Voice Isolation is also coming to AirPods Pro. Using advanced computational audio, it will ensure the caller's voice is still audible in loud or windy environments. Updates also promise to drop AirPods' latency and add Personalised Spatial Audio to make games more immersive.

Apple Music's SharePlay feature is also making it possible for more listeners to share control of what's playing. Sounds great, as long as you agree on what to play...


A new AirPlay feature is coming which Apple didn’t mention at WWDC 2024

Check out our Apple TV 4K review

And our Apple HomePod 2 review

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.