Apple to make major upgrades to iPhone 16 design, new leak claims

Updated July 3 with details from a new report about how the design is being updated with a new processor in multiple models of the iPhone 16, and Ming-Chi Kuo’s report about increased battery density.

The next iPhones, the iPhone 16 series, are expected to feature models with an all-new battery design, with battery life extended by a new, powerful processor. Everyone wants better battery life and more power, and there’s also the suggestion that we’ll be able to keep our iPhones for longer. The entire iPhone 16 series could share the same new processor, unlike the iPhone 15 series, which has one chip for the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus, and a different one for the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max.

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Additionally, a battery clad in stainless steel instead of the foil currently used has the added benefit of increasing the battery’s cell density, according to a recent report on X from insider Ming-Chi Kuo.

Kuo said: “The EU regulates that all smartphones must be equipped with replaceable batteries by 2027. The new iPhone with a stainless steel battery case not only reduces the difficulty of removing the battery to comply with EU regulations, but also allows Apple to increase the battery cell density by 5-10% and meet safety requirements at the same time, thus achieving two goals at once.”

And what would a higher battery cell density mean? Better battery life, which is arguably the single most popular thing a phone can offer. Of course, Apple has historically used this extra battery life to power more features, and since this fall’s iPhones will eventually have Apple Intelligence, expect battery life to be severely tested by new features. So don’t expect iPhone 16 models with this new battery size to suddenly last for days. Apple is much more likely to put the extra power to work on exciting new features and keep battery life the same as it is today.

A new report claims that code found and shared by Nicolás Alvarez with MacRumors reveals multiple identifiers, all using the same processor.

As the report notes, “Apple’s iPhones typically tie the identifier to the chip. Anything with the A16 chip has an identifier starting with 15, and earlier devices with the A15 chip all had an identifier starting with 14. The same is true for the 13,x identifier (A14) and the 12,x identifier (A13).”

So, the evidence pointing to chips called iPhone17.1 along with iPhone17.2 and other similar chips suggests that every model in the new lineup coming this fall will have the same processor. And battery life will likely benefit as well, as the new chips can boost efficiency and power.

This doesn’t mean the chips will be identical in every way. For example, they could have different numbers of graphics cores, as Apple has done in the past, and the naming could be different, such as A18 and A18 Pro.

It all seems very likely: Apple Intelligence needs a powerful processor, and Apple doesn’t want to leave the iPhone 16 out of the Apple Intelligence party.

The latest battery report is consistent with previous rumors that predicted the battery housing would be made of a different material, replacing the current foil with a metal housing, The Information reported.

This could mean that the next phone will have better thermal management, thus avoiding the overheating controversy that plagued the iPhone 16 when it launched, but which was quickly fixed with a software update.

But it also brings about another important change: it would mean that replacing the battery would be much easier. Currently, replacing the battery is a fiddly task that requires the adhesive strips to be carefully removed with tweezers. This is made even more difficult if the strip breaks during removal, requiring heat or solvent to complete the operation. Replacing the battery is also a complicated procedure.

The new metal-cased battery and the so-called electrically induced adhesive debonding technology make it easier to remove the battery from the casing by applying a low electrical voltage.

Thanks to a simpler and potentially cheaper process for replacing the battery, users may choose to use their iPhone longer with a new battery, instead of buying a new phone.

The new battery is believed to be found in some iPhone 16 models, but perhaps not all. All models in the iPhone 17 series launching in 2025 are expected to feature the new design.

Another angle to this story is the influence of the EU, which in some cases requires consumer-friendly battery replacements. If the cell doesn’t reach 83% capacity after 500 full charges, or 80% after 1,000 full charges, then the phone should have more access to make replacement easier. While all of the latest iPhone 15 models pass the 1,000-charge test, earlier phones don’t.

The introduction of such new battery technology is a powerful signal for Apple and shows that iPhones can be more sustainable after all.

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