I plan to skip the iPhone 16 based on all the rumors — here's why

iPhone 16 camera pill design
(Image credit: MacRumors)

I recently upgraded to the iPhone 14 Pro Max from my iPhone 12 and the difference is pretty staggering. The larger size makes the phone easier to use than ever. The iPhone 14 Pro Max is faster than my old phone and the battery life isn't even comparable. Overall, it has been a worthwhile upgrade and I can see the benefit of swapping between these two models. 

However, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is not the most recent phone. There is another iPhone that could be released this year. I am, of course, talking about the iPhone 16 and as I just skipped a generation in my latest upgrade it makes sense to do so again. The issue I am facing is that I don't think Apple will be doing enough to convince me to trade up. 

The truth is that all the rumors and reports that are coming out about the iPhone 16 Pro Max series haven't really stoked my interest. So far I see no reason to upgrade from my current model, and I don't know if I am alone. So, let's look at some of the things I would look for to make me upgrade and how Apple has yet to reach that standard based on the rumors.

The rumors about the A18 Pro chip does not inspire confidence

iPhone 15 Pro Max shown in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

One of the main reasons to upgrade phones is the promise of more power. When it comes to phones this is usually down to the chip inside the device. Apple uses its own A-series of chips and the chip that will reportedly power the iPhone 16 Pro series is the A18 Pro. However, the recent reports regarding the single and multi-core Geekbench score for the A18 Pro are concerning.

Geekbench is software that tests the phone's Single and Multi-core threads to measure performance. The higher the score, the better the phone can fetch data for the apps it runs. Usually, Apple manages to increase the Geekbench score by about 15% for each subsequent upgrade, but that doesn't seem to be happening here. This isn't the biggest issue in the world, and most people might not notice but it does make changing phones less enticing.

One of the aspects we hope for in a new phone is that its performance will be better. While we might not always notice the improved speed, it is still nice to know it is there. I should point out that the Geekbench scores aren't always a perfect indication of the power of a phone. However, it is a good measure of how the hardware has advanced, and that directly influences my next issue. 

Most of the performance and hardware changes strike me as minimal 

iPhone 16 Pro render blue bg

(Image credit: @MajinBuOfficial)

There is an argument that phones have reached their peak in current hardware advancements, at least compared to ten years ago. I remember upgrading from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4 and how jarring that was. The two phones looked completely different, the screens and the functions couldn't be further apart. You could feel the difference between the two phones and see it with your eyes.

Nowadays that isn't the case and most phones look almost exactly the same. This is an issue because it raises the question of what you are upgrading to. The new screens don't look that much better, and the graphics on display don't vary much. Remember the difference in the time it took for the iPhone 3GS to turn on compared to the iPhone 4? For the iPhone 16 to entice me it needs something to draw me in.

Now, there's a rumor that Apple will grow the sizes of its iPhone 16 Pro phones with the iPhone 16 Pro going from 6.1 to to 6.2 inches and the iPhone 16 Pro Max jumping from 6.7 to 6.9 inches, but that's not enough for me to care that much. 

The Tetraprism camera is impressive, but how much will it cost?

Unofficial renders of the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max from the front and back

(Image credit: MacRumors)

Apple phones can usually be relied on to have good cameras that do what they need to do, and don’t rely as much on AI improvements as many Android devices seem to. There are a fair few rumors about the iPhone 16 Pro cameras and they sound interesting.

The biggest is the addition of a tetraprism telephoto lens that could allow the camera to reach up to 5x Zoom. It's a cool design, but there's an issue in that we don’t know how much it will add to the cost. I use the camera on my phone sparingly and if Apple wants me to pay a premium then it needs to pull out the stops. Another issue is that, while the rear camera may improve, the selfie camera won't according to reports.

One of the problems Apple faces is that other developers have realized they can improve their cameras by simply using software instead of hardware. For example, the camera difference on the Samsung Galaxy series has been stagnating for a while but the Galaxy S24 can use its software to compete with Apple. This is specifically down to one factor, and it's one that Apple has fallen behind on.

AI might be able to convince me


(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The rise of AI on phones has seemingly hit the rocket boosters recently. Most major phone developers have AI that can enhance or generate photos, improve video editing, summarize details on a webpage and more. Meanwhile, Apple seems to have stagnated in this area. However, Apple aims to break new ground regarding generative AI, which might convince me to upgrade.

First and foremost, it has been stated that iOS 18 will be one of the biggest software updates in iPhone history. There have been reports about upcoming AI improvements to SIRI, including a private framework called “SiriSummarization” that makes calls to the ChatGPT API. There are also rumors that Apple is working with UC Santa Barbara to develop an AI model that edits images based on user instructions.

There’s a lot to be excited about and, importantly, it looks like the iPhone 16 series will be able to use these features without relying on a connection to Apple’s Cloud servers. That could be a reason to upgrade the device, but all these features are hearsay so we won’t know more until WWDC 2024 when Apple might give us the full rundown of its AI plans.

If many of these AI features come to older iPhones via the iOS 18 upgrade, there won't be much incentive to invest in shiny new hardware. 


iPhone 14 Plus vs iPhone 14 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future)

As I said, I only recently upgraded my phone so Apple would need to do a lot to make me spend more money. I need to know that the iPhone 16 series offers me something my current device can’t do. I don’t think Apple has managed that based on the rumors, but there is potential. The promise of AI is tempting, but I can get similar features on a Samsung device for less money, so I don’t think it's enough.

Overall, I think the iPhone 16 has plenty of promise, and if I was still using my iPhone 12 then I would honestly consider it but I don't see the point in upgrading again. I think we have hit the period where people upgrade every few generations, instead of buying a new phone every couple years. I know I might wait until the iPhone 17 before I upgrade again.

Tell me what you're thinking. Has Apple done enough to convince you just yet based on the iPhone 16 leaks, or are you waiting to see what Tim Cook announces in September?

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Staff Writer

Josh is a staff writer for Tom's Guide and is based in the UK. He has worked for several publications but now works primarily on mobile phones. Outside of phones, he has a passion for video games, novels, and Warhammer.