iPhone 16 is going to look very familiar, top analyst claims

All iPhone 15 models shown together.
(Image credit: Future)

If you’re hoping for major design changes in the iPhone 16 models coming this fall, you may need to wait another year before you get what you want.

Apple isn’t planning any major design changes in this year’s iPhone 16 lineup, longtime Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo wrote in a Medium post on Tuesday (January 30). What's more, Kuo says that "more comprehensive/differentiated GenAI ecosystem/applications" won't appear until 2025, seemingly contradicting reports about Apples AI plans for the coming year.

Just this week, reports surfaced that iOS 18 was shaping up to be the biggest iPhone update in Apple's history, largely because of the AI features coming to the iPhone software. Kuo's report doesn't necessarily conflict with that claim — it could just mean that the analyst believes generative AI features that substantially differ from Google's Magic Editor or Samsung's Galaxy AI tools aren't necessarily in the cards.

Given Kuo's track record with analyzing Apple's supply chain, his claims about the lack of big design changes in the iPhone 16 are more straightforward. They're also in line with other reports about likely changes for this year's ihone models.

It’s unclear why Kuo believes Apple is holding off on a significant iPhone improvement this year. He did, however, say that the company’s apparent decision to not focus on bringing AI to its handsets could put it in a worse competitive place against Samsung’s Galaxy S24 line, which is replete with AI features. Other Android makers, including Google, are also expected to feature AI prominently in this year’s flagship phones.

It's widely expected that all iPhone 16 models will get an Action button, a feature introduced to just the iPhone 15 Pro models last year. The iPhone 16 Pro has been tipped to adopt the tetraprism-based telephoto lens introduced to the iPhone 15 Pro Max, and both that phone and the iPhone 16 Pro Max could feature larger screens.

One could argue about whether those changes are significant, but it's likely true that the iPhone 16 will share a lot in common with the iPhone 15, at least in terms of design. Kuo's report would seemingly confirm that a foldable phone — the long-rumored iPhone Flip — isn't in Apple's plans for this year, though that's hardly a surprise either. Kuo has previously pointed to 2025 as the likely release date for an Apple foldable.

The lack of big changes could be a challenge for Apple — Kuo is forecasting fewer phone shipmments. But it also raises the stakes for Apple to deliver compelling features in this year's iOS update. We'll get our first hint of that later this year when iOS 18 should get a preview at Apple's annual developer conference.

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Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.