The iPhone 7, expected to debut later this year, is not believed to be a major design overhaul from the iPhone 6s, but that doesn’t mean it won’t include some substantial exterior changes, at least according to one sketchy Chinese rumor site. The reports indicate that the iPhone 7 could feature a digital touch-sensitive Home button, essentially making the iPhone front completely flush, replacing the current physical clicky hardware button. This would help make the iPhone 7 completely waterproof and dustproof, via Storm …

Apparently, Apple would use haptic feedback motors akin to those found in the Retina MacBook Force Touch Trackpad to help cement the illusion of a Home button being there, even if it’s really just a flat capacitive surface. The Chinese report also claims that Apple is considering a matte black color for the chassis, which sounds distinctly darker than space gray and harkens back to the iPhone 5’s ‘slate’ black appearance.

Rumors about the next iPhone being waterproof have been repeated several times over the last few months and it seems like making the Home button digitally synthetic would be necessary to help Apple truly seal the exterior casing from water.

We have already heard numerous reports that the iPhone 7 will lose the 3.5 mm headphone jack, in favor of Lightning or Bluetooth headphones, which could be positioned as another necessary step to make the device truly waterproof. However, it is not clear how Touch ID would work with a non-physical Home button design.

Earlier in March, we saw a barrage of leaks about the upcoming iPhone, although none of them depicted what the front of the device would look like. It was simply assumed it would look similar to current iPhones. Chinese schematics leaks have shown that the backside will feature some changes, including redesigned antenna lines.

The iPhone 7 is also believed to feature a dual-camera, at least on some versions of the 5.5 inch iPhone 7 Plus. There have also been uncorroborated claims about the Plus phone gaining a Smart Connector for additional input.

As always, Chinese media rumors should be taken with some degree of caution as to their reliability given most do not have track records of trustworthiness. Apple is expected to officially announce the iPhone 7 in the fall.

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About the Author

Benjamin Mayo

Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.