Apple drew back the curtain on the iPhone 7, revealing several expected changes — including water-resistant features and the absence of a dedicated headset jack — marking an evolution rather than a stunning breakthrough for the flagship smartphone line.
The official announcement at Apple's San Francisco event Wednesday comes after weeks of leaks and speculation about the next iPhone. Instead of a headphone jack, the iPhone 7 will use Apple's proprietary Lightning charging port to connect a headset (included with the smartphones); alternatively users also can connect to wireless earbuds via Bluetooth, and the iPhone 7 will also include an adapter to connect to analog headphones.
The reason Apple is eliminating the traditional headphone "comes down to one word: courage, the courage to move on to do something that betters all of us," said Phil Schiller, Apple's senior VP of worldwide marketing, noting that the change reduces the components required in the iPhone 7.
However, on the water- and dust-resistant features, Apple is playing catch-up: Major rival Samsung Electronics has highlighted the waterproof features of its Galaxy S7 Android-based smartphones, which can sustain being submerged for up to 30 minutes in five feet of water.
Evolution of the iPhone:
Evolution of the iPhone
Evolution of the iPhone
Apple chief executive Steve Jobs unveils a new mobile phone that can also be used as a digital music player and a camera, a long-anticipated device dubbed an 'iPhone.' at the Macworld Conference 09 January 2007 in San Francisco. Cisco and Apple announced 21 February 2007 that they had settled their trademark lawsuit over Apple's use of the name iPhone for a new portable device that includes mobile phone features. Cisco sued Apple after the Cupertino, California, maker of iPod MP3 players and Macintosh computers had grandly launched an iPhone device on January 9 with camera, digital music player, and mobile telephone capabilities.
(TONY AVELAR/AFP/Getty Images)
The new Apple iPhone is displayed behind a glass enclosure at the Macworld Conference 09 January 2007 in San Francisco. Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs made the company's long-awaited jump into the mobile phone business during the annual Macworld conference and expo.
(TONY AVELAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Customers look at computers beneath an advertisement for the Apple iPhone in the Apple Soho store June 27, 2007 in New York City. Hype for the iPhone, which will cost $499 or $599, has driven demand into overdrive as it will be released at 6:00 p.m. June 29 nationwide.
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
The new iPhone is seen inside the Apple Store in New York, June 29, 2007. Hundreds lined up on Friday outside the Apple store hours before the iPhone, a combination widescreen iPod, cellphone and pocket Internet device, went on sale at Apple's 164 stores and nearly 1,800 AT&T stores.
People queue to buy the newly released Apple iPhone on the first day of its Japanese launch outside a SoftBank Mobile's flagship store on July 11, 2008 in Tokyo, Japan. The iPhone 3G, priced at 23,040 yen (US $215.25) for the 8GB and 34,560 yen (US $322.82) for the 16GB in Japan, is a multimedia mobile device with a touch screen that enables email and web browsing, as well as being a portable media player.
(Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)
A 16GB iPhone 3G sits on display in the Apple store in the SoHo neighborhood of New York, U.S., on Friday, July 11, 2008. Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs is aiming at Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry as the iPhone 3G goes on sale in 22 countries today, almost quadrupling the markets for the handset, which has better audio quality, lets users run software from outside developers and adds support for corporate e-mail systems.
(Photo by Gino Domenico/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Apple Corporation CEO Steve Jobs speaks about the new iPhone 3G during his keynote speech at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California June 9, 2008.
New iPhone 3G waits for purchase at the Apple Store on July 11, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. New iPhone buyers, along with owners of the previous version who were upgrading to newer software, experienced massive gridlock on the phone's network as millions attempted to activate, or upgrade service.
(Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)
An Apple iPhone 3GS sits on display inside an AT&T store in New York, U.S, on Thursday, July 23, 2009. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is examining whether AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless stymie wireless competitors by denying them connections and making it hard for subscribers to switch providers. The agency said June 18 it was investigating whether consumers are shortchanged by carriers' exclusive contracts for wireless handsets, such as deals linking Apple Inc.'s iPhone to AT&T.
(Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
A posed picture shows a fake iPhone 3GS charging next to an Apple logo on a Macbook Air laptop in Beijing July 22, 2011. A fake Apple store in China, made famous by a blog that said even the staff working there didn't realize it was a bogus outlet, is probably the most audacious example to date of the risks Western companies face in the booming Chinese market. The less-publicized phenomenon of unauthorized vendors setting up shop to peddle real products has grown alongside China's manufacturing prowess. Many of the factories that produce brand-name goods on contract have been known to do extra runs of the goods to make extra cash, analysts say.
Employees work with the Apple iPhone 3GS at the company's retail store in San Francisco, California June 19, 2009. Apple Inc's latest iPhone hit stores on Friday with new features and faster speeds, drawing some fans, but not the crowds that had swarmed the previous iPhone launches.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs discusses the new iPhone 4 during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California June 7, 2010.
New iPhone 4 models are displayed after Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled it during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, June 7, 2010.
An iPhone 4S is seen at Apple's flagship retail store in San Francisco, California October 14, 2011. Apple Inc's new iPhone 4S went on sale in stores across the globe on Friday, prompting thousands to queue around city blocks to snap up the final gadget unveiled during Steve Jobs' life.
A collection of white Apple iPhone 4S smartphones, photographed during a studio shoot for Tap Magazine, May 12, 2011.
(Photo by Joby Sessions/Tap Magazine via Getty Images)
Phil Schiller, vice president of worldwide product marketing at Apple Inc., speaks during an event at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011. Apple Inc., in its first product unveiling since Steve Jobs resigned as chief executive officer, introduced a faster iPhone with voice features and a higher-resolution camera to help it vie with Google Inc.'s Android.
(David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Apple's new iPhone 5 smartphone is on display in an Apple store, on September 21, 2012 in Paris. The iPhone 5 goes on sale on September 21, 2012 in the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore.
The Apple Inc. iPhone 5 is displayed inside the company's store on George Street in Sydney, Australia, on Friday, Sept. 21, 2012. Apple Inc. is poised for a record iPhone 5 debut and may not be able to keep up with demand as customers line up from Sydney to New York to pick up the latest model of its top-selling product. The device hits stores in eight countries today at 8 a.m. local time, giving customers in Australia the first chance to buy the device.
(Ian Waldie/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
An employee tests the fingerprint scanner on the new Apple iPhone 5S at a Verizon store in Orem, Utah September 19, 2013. The iPhone 5C, which comes in blue, green, pink, yellow and white, starts in the U.S. at $99 with a contract and the pricier "5S" begins at $199 with a contract. Both models go on sale in several countries on September 20.
The gold colored version of the new iPhone 5S is displayed after Apple Inc's media event in Cupertino, California September 10, 2013.
Jesse Green from London poses with his iPhone 5S (L) and 5C (R) after being the second person to enter the Apple store after they went on sale in central London on September 20, 2013. Apple's eagerly-awaited iPhone 5S and 5C went of sale in London at 8am.
(BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)
An employee shows the the backside of a new Apple iPhone 5C (R) and iPhone 5 S (L) at a Verizon store in Orem, Utah September 19, 2013. The iPhone 5C, which comes in blue, green, pink, yellow and white, starts in the U.S. at $99 with a contract and the pricier "5S" begins at $199 with a contract. Both models go on sale in several countries on September 20.
A new Apple iPhone 5C is on display at a Verizon store in Orem, Utah September 19, 2013. The iPhone 5C, which comes in blue, green, pink, yellow and white, starts in the U.S. at $99 with a contract and the pricier "5S" begins at $199 with a contract. Both models go on sale in several countries on September 20.
The new iPhone 5C is displayed during an Apple product announcement at the Apple campus on September 10, 2013 in Cupertino, California. The company launched the new iPhone 5C model that will run iOS 7 is made from hard-coated polycarbonate and comes in various colors and the iPhone 5S that features fingerprint recognition security.
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., unveils the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus during a product announcement at Flint Center in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Apple Inc. unveiled redesigned iPhones with bigger screens, overhauling its top-selling product in an event that gives the clearest sign yet of the company's product direction under Cook.
(David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
A new Apple iPhone 6 Plus stands on display at the Apple Store on the first day of sales of the new phone in Germany on September 19, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Hundreds of people had waited in a line that went around the block through the night in order to be among the first people to buy the new smartphone, which comes in two versions: the Apple iPhone 6 and the somewhat larger Apple iPhone 6 Plus.
(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
An Apple Inc. iPhone 6 Plus, left, and iPhone 6 are displayed for a photograph inside SoftBank Corp.'s Omotesando store during the sales launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Apple stores attracted long lines of shoppers for the debut of the latest iPhones, indicating healthy demand for the bigger-screen smartphones.
(Yuriko Nakao/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The new iPhone 6s Plus are display in a Softbank store at the high-end shopping district of Ginza in Tokyo, Japan, on Sept. 25, 2015. Apple sold its new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus in Japan.
(David MAREUIL/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus during an Apple media event in San Francisco, California on September 9, 2015. Apple unveiled its iPad Pro, saying the large-screen tablet has the power and capabilities to replace a laptop computer.
(Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)
Apple Inc. iPhone 6s smartphones stand next to packaging boxes in an arranged photograph in Hong Kong, China, on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. The latest models, following last year's hugely popular design overhaul that added bigger screens, may not match the success of previous releases, according to analysts.
(Xaume Olleros/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
An iPhone 6S Plus is seen at the Apple retail store in Palo Alto, California September 25, 2015.
The new Apple iPhone 6S and 6S Plus are displayed during an Apple media event in San Francisco, California, September 9, 2015.
Apple Vice President Greg Joswiak introduces the iPhone SE during an event at the Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, March 21, 2016.
(REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo)
A rose gold iPhone SE (R) and an iPhone 6S Plus are seen at an Apple Store on March 31, 2016 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province of China. Apple launched a new 4-inch iPhone SE globally on Thursday. Apple's new 4-inch iPhone SE packs almost all the power and features of the iPhone 6s into a package as small as - and even more affordable than - the iPhone 5s it replaces.
(Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
An iPhone 7 is displayed in a store in London, Britain October 4, 2016.
Apple's new iPhone 7 smartphones sit on a shelf at an Apple store in Beijing, China, September 16, 2016.
Phil Schiller, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing at Apple Inc, discusses the camera on the iPhone7 during an Apple media event in San Francisco, California, U.S. September 7, 2016.
A customer touches the screen of an iPhone 7 inside the new Apple store Saint-Germain during the first opening day on December 03, 2016 in Paris, France. This store employs 120 people and has an area of 1,300 m2, it is the largest in the capital and it is the first in France to embrace the new design codes chosen by Apple for its shops. Apple store Marche Saint-Germain is the third store in Paris, the 20th in France and the 110th in Europe and will be the 489th in the world.
(Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)
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The iPhone 7 and larger-size iPhone 7 Plus will begin shipping Sept. 16, according to Apple. The new models also have a 12-megapixel rear camera, which includes an optical image stabilizer, improvements for low-light photography, and the ability to capture a wider range of colors, among other features. The iPhone 7 Plus features a dual-lens camera system (a wide-angle and one telephoto lens) designed to improve zoom capabilities and capture 3D-like images. Apple says the Retina displays for the new phones are 25% brighter than those in the iPhone 6s, and the iPhone 7 includes for the first time stereo speakers.
Apple is banking on the iPhone refresh — which has become an annual traditional — to boost sales of the flagship device line. Unit sales of iPhones declined 15% year-over-year during the quarter ended June 30, following a falloff in the prior quarter. Apple, the world's biggest tech conglomerate, posted iPhone sales of $24.0 billion in the most recent quarter, representing 57% of total revenue.
Still, it's not clear that the iPhone 7 enhancements will spur Apple's hoped-for upgrade rush among current iPhone users, who may be growing less inclined to toss out their existing devices on a yearly cycle.
Apple's removal of the iPhone headphone jack had been widely anticipated, as was the dual-lens camera. Reports prior to the launch also said Apple would increase storage for the iPhone, with the entry-level model including 32 gigabytes of memory (up from 16 GB previously) along with a new 256-gigabyte version.
Also at the event, the company launched the Apple Watch Series 2, which is waterproof to be able to withstand submersion to a depth of 50 meters and includes built-in GPS to provide location-based services. The new smartwatch lineup includes Apple Watch Nike+ model, a companion device for runners that tracks workouts.
In addition, Apple announced that an app for Niantic's "Pokémon Go" mobile game will be available for Apple Watch. Niantic CEO John Hanke said the game, released in July, has been downloaded 500 million times to date.
The Apple Watch Series 2 will be priced starting at $369 (as will the Nike+ model). The original Apple Watch, now called Series 1, will start at $269. According to CEO Tim Cook, Apple Watch was second in revenue in 2015 only to Rolex in the worldwide watch market. (The company did not reveal actual sales figures.)
Cook also noted that Apple Music now has more than 17 million subscribers, which he said was boosted by exclusive music deals with artists.
In other news, Nintendo plans to launch its first mobile game based on its Super Mario Bros. franchise, initially exclusively on Apple iOS. The "Super Mario Run" game will be available later in 2016 in time for the holidays, according to execs.