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iPhone 16: 12 things I want to see in the next iPhone

The Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 14 Pro showing the screens.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro (left) and iPhone 15 Pro Max Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

With the recent release of the iPhone 15 series, including the iPhone 15 Pro Max, it’s natural to start anticipating Apple’s upcoming range of smartphones — the iPhone 16 series — which is expected to be launched in September 2024.

Although not much information is available about these devices yet, rumors are already spreading, and wish lists are being made. The list below shows a combination of features we anticipate seeing on the iPhone 16 and those we’d love to see.

120Hz screens on all iPhone 16 models

iPhone 15 Pro display with iPhone 15 Pro Max in background.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

Mobile device display refresh rates have undergone significant improvements over the years. A higher refresh rate means that the display hardware updates its buffer more frequently, resulting in a smoother experience, particularly for gaming. Currently, most top-performing smartphones have 120Hz screens, while some are even pushing into the 144Hz and 165Hz range, like the Motorola Edge Plus.

Apple iPhone Pro models have shipped with 120Hz screens since the iPhone 13 Pro series launched in 2021 with ProMotion. Unfortunately, the regular models, including the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus, are stuck at 60Hz. Hopefully, this changes with the iPhone 16 series.

Faster USB-C charging

Blue Titanium iPhone 15 Pro showing USB-C port.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The iPhone 15 series has finally adopted USB-C technology, which allows data transfer between devices that’s much faster than with the previous Lightning connector. However, the charging speed hasn’t improved with this change. Future iPhone models are expected to address this issue, but whether this will happen with the iPhone 16 or later iterations is unclear.

Camera upgrades for the iPhone 16 Pro

The iPhone 15 Pro Max's camera module.
iPhone 15 Pro Max Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Apple finally upgraded its telephoto camera on the iPhone 15 Pro Max this year with 5x optical zoom. Unfortunately, the regular iPhone 15 Pro was left out and is stuck with the same 3x telephoto camera we’ve had for a while.

The good news? Rumor has it that the iPhone 16 Pro Max and the smaller iPhone 16 Pro will both have improved telephoto cameras next year. Considering this is an area that was completely overlooked for the iPhone 15 Pro, the iPhone 16 Pro could be a big deal in this regard.

New iPhone sizes

CAD render of the iPhone 16 Pro Max next to the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Rumors suggest Apple will do something it hasn’t done in a few years: increase the display size for its iPhone line. Not surprisingly, these changes will probably come to the Pro models first. At least one rumor says the iPhone 16 Pro will go from 6.1 inches to 6.3 inches, while the iPhone 16 Pro Max, which may be called the iPhone 16 Ultra, will see its display increase to 6.9 inches from 6.7 inches.

Not everyone may be pleased with this news, as some iPhone enthusiasts believe that the current size of 6.7 inches is already too large. The primary concern is that the largest iPhone usually has the most advanced features. Therefore, regardless of personal preference, one must opt for a larger phone to access these features.

Solid-state buttons

Close-up of the Action button on the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The next iPhones may not have physical buttons and could feature solid-state buttons controlled through haptic feedback instead. These buttons will work similarly to the old iPhone Home button, which was transformed from an actual button to a glass button.

Although solid-state controls were initially rumored to be a part of the iPhone 15 series, technical challenges may have caused a delay. It’s likely solid-state buttons are still coming to the iPhone at some point, and it’s very likely they’ll debut on the iPhone 16.

Under-display Face ID

Face ID tick icon on the iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Some Apple fans have been waiting for ages for the company to introduce under-display authentication tools that can be controlled by fingerprint or Face ID. Some sources say that Apple may add under-display Face ID to the iPhone Pro series, meaning that the Dynamic Island could be phased out. The Dynamic Island first appeared on the iPhone 14 Pro series in 2022 and became available on the entire iPhone 15 lineup this year.

Apple’s commitment to the Dynamic Island makes it highly unlikely that it will be eliminated on next year’s iPhones to bring online under-display Face ID. However, it might be possible in the future.

Improvements to the Action button

Settings for iPhone 15 Pro Action button.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The iPhone 15 Pro series has a customizable Action button that replaces the traditional Ring/Silent switch. The button acts as a shortcut that you can assign different actions to. For instance, you could set up the Action button to open the Camera app, initiate Voice Memos, and much more.

However, the Action button can only perform a single task. It would be great if future iPhones would allow users to assign multiple functions to the Action button — such as double-press and triple-press options. It’s unclear if Apple will expand the Action button’s functionality like this with the iPhone 16 Pro series, but I certainly hope it does.

Titanium iPhones for everyone

iPhone 15 Pro in Natural Titanium held in hand in front of a cement brick wall.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Apple made an essential change in its latest iPhone Pro models by replacing the stainless steel with titanium. However, the less expensive aluminum is still being used for the regular models, and this is expected to continue for at least one more cycle.

It would be great to see all iPhones made of titanium eventually. After all, titanium is twice as strong as aluminum, and it still feels really nice without being too heavy. The likelihood of all-titanium iPhones for the iPhone 16 series doesn’t seem particularly likely, be we can certainly dream.

Big color changes for the iPhone 16 Pro

iPhone 15 Pro in a red color.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The Phone Pro series has always featured more reserved and understated color choices than the regular iPhone lineup. However, do the color options always have to be so conservative? Wouldn’t it be nice if Apple introduced brighter and more fun colors for its most expensive handsets while still offering traditional black and white titanium as options? What if we could have the first iPhone Pro in Product Red? Any takers?

There’s no indication from Apple that the iPhone 16 Pro will get a radical color makeover, but let’s hope it happens.

A carbon-neutral iPhone

The curved screen on the Apple Watch Series 9.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Apple released its first-ever carbon-neutral products this year in a significant move toward environmental sustainability. The Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 are not only sleek and stylish, but they are also eco-friendly.

Given Apple’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, it’s no surprise that a carbon-neutral iPhone is in the works. Whether it happens in 2024, 2025, or later, it’s coming, and it will be interesting to see what that entails.

Smaller iPhone love

The iPhone SE 2022 and the iPhone 14 Plus's screens.
iPhone 14 Plus (left) and iPhone SE (2022) Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

As iPhones get bigger, perhaps it’s time for Apple to give more attention to the smallest iPhone in its lineup, the third-generation iPhone SE. Released in spring 2022, this 4.7-inch phone has always occupied some weird space in the iPhone lineup. Though technically not an iPhone 13, which was Apple’s flagship device at its release, the current iPhone SE nonetheless features many of that phone’s features, including the A15 Bionic chip.

In the future, it might be wise for Apple to consider dropping the “SE” from the name of this product and adding a revised model to the regular iPhone lineup. Naming it an “iPhone mini” may not be practical, especially considering the poor reception of the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 13 mini. However, a name that uses the iPhone 16 branding could help to acknowledge that not all customers prefer larger iPhones.

Better battery life

Battery settings on the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Everyone wants their iPhone to last longer between charges. With this in mind, rumors suggest upcoming iPhones could use stacked battery technology. In doing so, they could offer higher capacity and a longer life span. The forthcoming Samsung Galaxy S24 could also be using this technology.

Longer battery life is always appreciated, and Apple should use the iPhone 16 lineup for big upgrades on this front.

And now, we wait

The Apple logo on the back of an iPhone 14.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Will all of these wishes come true? Are all of these just pipe dreams? It probably falls somewhere in the middle, but the fact remains that there should be a lot to look forward to with the iPhone 16 family.

We aren’t expecting the iPhone 16 series until sometime in September 2024, but we should start learning more about it over the coming weeks and months. And I can’t wait to see how it all comes together.

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Bryan M. Wolfe
Bryan M. Wolfe has over a decade of experience as a technology writer. He writes about mobile.
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