As we close out 2023, rumors are already swirling about Apple’s next major iPhone overhaul – tentatively named the iPhone 16, or “DeLorean” internally – coming in 2024. After more incremental updates with the iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 families, signs point to the iPhone 16 ushering in Apple’s most radical iPhone redesign in years.
Information acquired by our reporters suggests the iPhone 16 could sport a complete revamp featuring several bold changes like a vertical camera layout, all-new buttons, a switch to USB-C, and more. While the design plans aren’t yet finalized, here’s an early glimpse at what surprising transformations could be in store for the iPhone 16 based on Apple’s internal prototyping thus far.
A Familiar Yet Strikingly Different Silhouette
At first glance, the iPhone 16 may resemble its predecessors, with a similar size and shape front display housing the signature notch and Dynamic Island. But turn the phone around and its vertical triple camera layout makes it instantly recognizable as Apple’s latest model.
It’s a striking departure from the iPhone’s iconic horizontal camera bump spanning more than a decade since the iPhone 4. While jarring for some longtime Apple devotees, the vertically stacked lenses echo the nostalgic iPhone 4 aesthetic in a modern revival.
The two prominent circles are likely to house wide and ultra-wide angle lenses, while the third camera could feature upgrades like a brighter aperture, sensor shift stabilization and increased megapixels. Flash position remains unchanged.
While this vertical arrangement has persisted throughout prototypes, Apple has weighed two variants:
- A pill-shaped enclosure reminiscent of older iPhone X models
- Separate circular lenses like on iPhone 12 models
The latter option has seen more testing so far, placing the iPhone 16’s triple camera stack on par with latest flagship Androids. Combined with a more angular chassis, it gives off a brawnier, utilitarian vibe compared to recent curvier iPhones.
But more importantly, flipping the entire unit on its side frees up valuable rear real estate for…
Bold New Buttons After scrapping similar plans last year, all signs now point to the iPhone 16 debuting at least one if not two completely new physical buttons along its side edges:
Action Button Gets Super-sized
First up, the Action button introduced with iPhone 15 Pro looks set for a growth spurt, expanding to double or even triple its current size.
Making the button bigger serves dual purposes:
- Making it easier to press and access shortcuts quickly
- Accommodating a switch from mechanical to capacitive functionality
As a force-sensitive control, the scaled-up Action button would enable additional press gestures like firm holds and swipes. It could theoretically support more advanced commands via Apple’s upcoming RealityOS spatial interactions and AR/VR applications.
With expanded capabilities on tap, Apple seems poised to make the Action button standard across all iPhone 16 models. So after over 15 years, 2024 may finally spell the end of the iconic mute switch.
All-New Capture Button Debuts
Even more intriguing is a mysterious new Capture button slated for the opposing right edge, displacing the current millimeter wave antenna window.
Dubbed Project Nova internally, little is known so far about the Capture button’s purpose or functionality. Given the name and placement though, it will likely integrate with Camera app features and photo/video capturing.
Rumors suggest the button employs similar pressure-sensitive force detection to the Action button, enabling different clicks, holds and taps to trigger various actions:
- Single click = shutter button for still images
- Hold = record video
- Double tap = switch lenses
- Triple tap = open Camera app
- Swipes = zoom controls
If well-implemented, dedicated physical camera controls could give iPhone photographers an easier, more tactile way to capture shots one-handed. Speculation is also swirling around augmented reality applications.
Combined with the relocated antenna, this extra side button further breaks from the long-standing iPhone design formula.
Refined Details + Familiar Favorites
Button experiments aside, Apple is sticking to refinements for most other external iPhone 16 elements:
- Display – Likely similar size and Dynamic Island notch as iPhone 15
- Materials – Rumored return of flat sides and frosted glass back
- Colors – Early testing in black, yellow, pink and blue
- Lightning replacement – Completed last year with adoption of USB-C
No changes are expected internally either, with the same A17 chip and RAM upgrades driving performance gains for iPhone 16.
In many ways, it amounts to classic Apple ethos – reinventing a familiar favorite with forward-thinking features wrapped in nostalgic charm.
What’s in a Code Name?
So where does that whole “DeLorean” thing come from? Apple has a tradition of using codenames inspired by cool cars during iPhone development, with recent examples like Ferrari, Porsche and more.
The DeLorean ties uniquely into Apple lore though, as legend goes that founder Steve Jobs was inspired to start the company after a life-changing encounter with a DeLorean sports car back in the early 80s.
Whether myth or factual, it’s a fitting metaphor for the iPhone 16 possibly transporting Apple’s smartphone vision into a radically different future reality. One where buttons rule again, and the camera becomes an artistic tool for everyday users in ways previously unimagined.
A Glimpse Into Apple’s Crystal Ball
With release still at least 9 months away, not even Apple execs can say whether these new concepts will make the cut or not. As prototypes progress over the coming months, the company will finalize exactly which daring changes float to the surface. And which prove mere flights of innovative fancy best left to rumor blogs.
But make no mistake – after the comparatively minor tweaks introduced with the iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 generations, Apple is clearly gearing up for a landmark iPhone overhaul due in 2024.
One that could realign not only camera and button paradigms that have remained static for over a decade… but set the stage for even bigger AR-driven transformations on the roadmap for late 2020’s and beyond.
In the immortal words of Doc Brown... “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” Or at least familiar ones. Buckle up!