Did Apple Kill the iPhone 7 Pro?

Apple fans are hoping to be wowed on Sept. 7 when Apple is expected to take the wraps off its new iPhone, but one device is expected to missing from the party — if Apple even had plans to ever unveil it.

This summer, rumors circulated that Apple would launch an iPhone Pro alongside the iPhone and iPhone Plus models that currently make up its lineup. According to those rumors, the iPhone 7 Pro would be a better-equipped version of Apple's smartphone, featuring a dual-lens camera, 256GB of storage and compatibility with a number of new peripherals, including a relatively slim charging cover and a dock that could connect the phone to a larger monitor and keyboard. But Japanese news site Nikkei reports that a third, ultra high-end device has now been relegated to Apple's back burner.

Credit: NowhereElse.fr

(Image credit: NowhereElse.fr)

"The competition is so fierce that Apple killed off a premium iPhone 7 model in the second quarter, less than six months before its official launch in September," Nikkei reported, citing unnamed sources.

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New iPhone specs sent to protective case manufacturers also indicate that only two models will be released, according to Max Wolff, chief economist at Manhattan Venture Partners, who says he himself has seen those specs.

Wolff says the expected third model may have been too expensive a venture to take a chance on, especially when you consider the added manufacturing costs and the uncertainty about whether consumers will be clamoring for it the way they have for previous iPhone models.

"The iPad Pro hasn't been a runaway success, so [Apple] may be nervous" about launching a Pro version of the iPhone, Wolff added.

Whatever changes come with Apple's latest iPhones won't be worth upgrading for, according to Angelo Zino, technology analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

"The iPhone 7 will be more evolutionary, not revolutionary," predicts Zino, who says he doesn't think there was an iPhone 7 Pro in the works to begin with. "The design will be similar, there may be an upgraded processor, no headphone jack, and it may have 32GB worth of storage on the base model," Zino added.

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Instead of releasing a Pro model this year, Apple is more likely to release one next year, timed with the iPhone 8 release and the iPhone's 10th anniversary, Zino says. And by then, along with the expected wireless charging capabilities, Apple's phone could potentially have a curved OLED display and even be bendable, he said.

"Smartphones are a mature market," said Wolff, who adds that virtual reality and augmented reality should be the next big things on Apple's list of priorities. "If Apple wants to stay Apple, they have to catch up or stay ahead with VR and AR."

But Apple already appears to be quietly ahead of that game. According to a report by AppleInsider on Monday, Apple was granted an augmented reality navigation patent in 2013, following its acquisition of AR company Flyby Media.

Althea Chang is Associate Director of Content Development for Consumer Reports and was previously a Senior Writer for Tom's Guide, covering mobile devices, health and fitness gadgets and car tech.