iPhone 16 release date rumors — when will Apple launch the new iPhones?

Unofficial renders of the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max from the front
(Image credit: MacRumors)

The iPhone 16 release date is easily one of the most anticipated days every year in the smartphone world. Even if you're not inclined to buy an iPhone, it's still worth seeing what Apple has up its sleeve and how its new devices compare to the best phones out there.

The iPhone 16 figures to draw an extra amount of interest, and not just because of the new AI-powered features likely to come with the phones' iOS 18 software. We're anticipating new screen sizes and camera improvements for the iPhone 16 Pro models, while every iPhone should feature Apple's latest A18 system-on-chip, as the phone maker has faced stepped-up competition from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 silicon powering the best Android phones this year.

In short, expect a full slate of changes to the iPhone, both in terms of hardware and software, once the new models appear. The biggest remaining question is when will that be?

With the fall launch window still a few months off, we still don't know for certain what the specific iPhone 16 release date. But thanks to Apple's track record with iPhone launches and a handful of rumors about possible release dates, we can make a pretty good guess as to when the new models will appear.

Here's our best guess as to when the iPhone 16's likely release will happen just in case you're trying to decde whether you're going to upgrade your phone once the new models arrive.

iPhone 16 release date: When does Apple release new phones?

tim cook at apple event

(Image credit: Future)

Look at Apple's history of iPhone rollouts — especially its recent history — and you notice a few distinct patterns. Excluding the iPhone SE models that have come out in the springtime — the current iPhone SE 2022 shipped on March 18, 2022, for example — Apple holds its iPhone launch events in the fall. That way, new phones reach retail shelves in time for the holiday shopping season, the most important quarter on Apple's fiscal calendar.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
PhoneAnnounce dateRelease date
iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro MaxSeptember 12, 2023September 22, 2023
iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro MaxSeptember 7, 2022September 16, 2022
iPhone 14 PlusSeptember 7, 2022October 7, 2022
iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro MaxSeptember 14, 2021September 24, 2021
iPhone 12, iPhone 12 ProOctober 13, 2020October 23, 2020
iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro MaxOctober 13, 2020November 13, 2020
iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro MaxSeptember 10. 2019September 20, 2019
iPhone XS, iPhone XS MaxSeptember 12, 2018September 21, 2018
iPhone XRSeptember 12, 2018October 26, 2018
iPhone 8, iPhone 8 PlusSeptember 12, 2017September 22, 2017
iPhone XSeptember 12, 2017November 3, 2017
iPhone 7, iPhone 7 PlusSeptember 7, 2016September 16, 2016
iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s PlusSeptember 9, 2015September 25, 2015

But we can drill down even further into Apple's release history if we look at when phones came out dating back nearly a decade. Only once has Apple released phones in October within the last decade, and that was at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Otherwise, Apple's phone launches occur in September, with a launch event followed by a full release roughly 10 days later.

Just last year, all four iPhone 15 models made their debut on September 12, going on sale by September 22. The iPhone 14 followed a similar schedule in 2023, with the iPhone 14 Plus shipping a few weeks after the rest of the new lineup.

That raises another point about Apple's iPhone track record. Generally, the phone maker releases all its new devices at the same time. But four times since 2015, Apple has had to stagger the releases of some phones, usually due to supply constraints as it introduced new sizes to its lineup. With the iPhone 16 Pro display expected to grow to 6.3 inches while the iPhone 16 Pro Max screen increases to 6.9 inches, that could be relevant for this year's release, though we hven't yet heard anything about supply chain issues possibly staggering the release of the four phones in the iPhone 16 lineup.

One last note about Apple's release schedule for new iPhones. Only once in the last decade has the company held its launch event later than September 15 — again during the pandemic year that gave us the iPhone 12 lineup. If you want to pick a date for the iPhone 16 launch, expect it to happen in the first two weeks of September.

iPhone 16 release date: What the rumors say

Four alleged iPhone 16 dummies, featuring their sizes written above them.

(Image credit: Sonny Dickson / X)

At this early stage, there's been nothing definitive about the iPhone 16 release date. Most rumors about Apple's new phones point to a fall release, with a few citing that likely September release window.

This may be a case of "no news is good news," as any reports about a later-than-expected iPhone 16 release would likely have surfaced by now. We can only assume that all systems are go for iPhone 16 development and production, at least until we hear reports one way or the other.

With Apple hosting a May 7 event reportedly to show off new iPads and the WWDC 2024 developers conference in June, the company already has its hands full with upcoming events. Expect more release details to emerge once those events are over with and we get closer to the fall launch date.

iPhone 16 release date: What we think

Tim Cook next to iPhone 15 Pro Max render

(Image credit: Getty / Technizo)

Given a lack of guidance from iPhone 16 release date rumors, we're going out on a limb to guess at a specific date for Apple's iPhone launch. So we're mainly going to rely on the assumption that Apple will repeat the strategy it's used in the eight of the last nine years.

Let's break out a calendar with four ideas in mind.

  • Apple likes to hold its iPhone event in September — usually within the first two weeks of the month.
  • Apple generally holds product launches on Tuesdays. (That's when the May 7 Let Loose event is happening, for example.)
  • If possible, Apple tries to avoid holding its event on the Tuesday right ater the Labor Day holiday in the U.S. That holiday falls on the first Monday of September.
  • Apple generally ships iPhones about 10 days after its launch event.

Labor Day falls on Monday, September 2 this year, so we'd imagine that rules out the first week of September for a possible iPhone 16 launch event, unless Apple were to hold its event on Wednesday. (It happened in 2018 with the iPhone XR/iPhone XS launch event, as Tuesday that year would have fallen on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.) Otherwise, we're looking at the week of September 9 or September 16 for the iPhone 16 announcement.

We'd guess the week of September 9, given that Apple prefers to announce new phones before the midway point of the month. That would point to September 10 as the day Apple holds its launch event. Under the assumption that Apple sticks to its usual release pattern for phones, iPhone 16 pre-orders would start the end of that week, with the phones hitting retail shelves by September 20.

iPhone 16 release date: Outlook

Our guess of a September 10 launch date for the iPhone 16 is merely that — a guess. The minute a more definitive rumor comes along, we'll update our prediction accordingly. 

For now, though, it sounds like the iPhone 16 remains on track for a September launch, even if we still don't know for certain what day that launch will take place on.

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Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.