The iPhone 16 might just be a snoozefest… History tells us why.

Historically, every three years, the iPhone’s design gets a ‘boring’ upgrade. Do you remember the iPhone 8 or the iPhone 13’s most exciting features? Neither do I.

The iPhone X and 11 had radical new designs with the notch, the iPhone 12 introduced 5G and MagSafe… but after two consecutive years of exciting features, the iPhone 13 barely had anything worth talking about (unless you consider ‘Cinematic Mode’ to be a game-changing feature). Skip to the next year and the iPhone 14 Pro had the Dynamic Island and Satellite Connectivity. The iPhone 15 had the Action Button, the USB-C port, and a titanium construction. All indications show that the upcoming iPhone 16 won’t really dazzle much. Aside from a few hardware upgrades and perhaps one or two extra camera features (probably tied to the Vision Pro), there isn’t any thrilling rumor regarding the upcoming iPhone 16’s design. Not that there needs to be – Apple’s entitled to taking a short break every few years and just focusing on fine-tuning the product rather than wowing people. If you’re thinking of upgrading to the 16 this year, I’d probably give it a miss and go for the 15 instead. The iPad, on the other hand, is due for a BIG refresh with rumors of a glass-back, MagSafe, and perhaps some more camera upgrades to support the Vision Pro.

The rumor mill for the latest iPhone often begins around a year prior to its release. Once a model of the iPhone launches, analysts and experts begin speculating what the next year’s model could look like. Speculations turn into rumors by January. Rumors turn into leaks by April or May. And renders emerge online by July or August, approximately a month before Apple announces its newest iPhone. So far, the rumors have been rather underwhelming at best, with some minor upgrades being touted for the iPhone 16.

So far, outlets like MacRumors haven’t specified any ‘game-changing’ new features for the iPhone 16. Sure, you have a chipset upgrade every year and the 16 Pro will run Apple’s latest A18 Bionic chip. Cameras get upgraded too, and there’s speculation that the Ultrawide camera could get a 48MP bump this year. The new iPhone 16 series will apparently have larger displays (so maybe smaller bezels), better 5G, WiFi 7 capabilities, and a new stacked battery architecture for better battery life. Visibly, the iPhone 16 might have a different camera layout, defaulting to the original vertical orientation seen with the iPhone 11 and 12 (although the bump around them may be capsule-shaped instead of square like older models). There’s also speculation about a new physical ‘capture’ button for clicking photos or recording videos… although all indications show that this might just be one of those rumors that end up staying a rumor. Apple’s famously trying to move away from buttons and ports, so adding an extra button to the new phone just doesn’t sound like something the company would do. Moreover, the volume buttons already work as capture buttons when the camera app’s active… so a dedicated capture button feels rather redundant.

The iPhone 16 Pro might see some extremely small incremental changes, with barely any visible differences. The rendering below shows a possible iPhone 16 Pro with a design that’s indistinguishable from last year’s 15 Pro model. Apple will almost certainly stick to titanium for the Pro series, potentially with newer colors to help differentiate them from last year’s models.

All eyes, however, are on Apple’s software development team this year. The company famously canceled its rumored Apple Car project, moving the entire Project Titan team to work for the in-house AI development department. Analysts like Ming-Chi Kuo speculate that Apple might announce AI-based features like a next-gen Siri powered by Apple’s own LLM, or other generative AI capabilities. These announcements, however, may just come with the iOS 18 debut during WWDC in June. To push the latest iPhone series, Apple may also limit these AI features only to the iPhone 16 range, forcing consumers to make the upgrade. However, until these speculations are confirmed, the iPhone 16 may just be worth a miss this year.

Images via MacRumors