A new report claims that Apple will take the unusual step later this year of introducing a ninth-generation iPhone family that is largely unchanged, appearance-wise, from not just the prior year, but the one before that as well. The report comes from the Wall Street Journal, which has proven highly accurate in sourcing confidential information about the Cupertino-based company.

Historically, Apple has adhered to a so-called “ticktock” refresh cycle with iPhone. In “tick” years the company offers a significantly refreshed design, while in “tock” years it recycles the design but enhances the features.

However, according to the Journal’s sources, what should be a tick year is going to end up being another tock year, with the 2016 iPhone(s) maintaining the same basic design as both 2015’s iPhone 6s and 2014’s iPhone 6. In fact, the biggest external change this year will reportedly be the removal of the 3.5-millimeter headphone jack, with the Lightning Connector said to absorb its functionality.

Three days prior to the Journal report, VentureBeat received an anonymous tip containing much of this same information, but with a few added details. According to the tip — sent through an email anonymization service that makes it completely unverifiable — this move away from the ticktock refresh cycle is here to stay, with future iPhones adhering to a three-year cycle instead.

What’s more, according to the tip, Apple is holding the name iPhone 7 until next year’s 10th anniversary edition, meaning that the 2016 models will very likely be named using another riff on iPhone 6. Finally, there’s a small tidbit on the 2017 model’s potential design:

iPhone 7 will (most likely) feature a glass back

The Journal report also mentions a significantly redesigned 2017 model, stating that it may use an edge-to-edge OLED display featuring an embedded fingerprint reader that would obviate the need for a home button.

Like, ahem, clockwork, the 2016 iPhones should be announced in early September and go on sale shortly afterward.


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