August 19, 2016
iPhone 7 Release Date: It May Be Coming Later Than We Thought

The iPhone 7's release date is never official until Apple announces it, but history has shown that some sources for release rumors are very reliable. One such source is VentureBeat writer Evan Blass (@evleaks).

Blass is a well known and trusted for his numerous technology leaks, particularly in the mobile arena. He has accurately tweeted details of several smartphones months before their release, including the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. So when Evan tweeted that the iPhone 7 would be released on the week of September 12 and followed it up saying that the exact date would be September 16, everyone marked that date on their calendar. Rumors are one thing, but Blass is something else.

However, Blass might not be right about the iPhone release date this time around. It appears that the iPhone may not be hitting store shelves until September 23.

According to 9to5Mac, an anonymous source, who presumably works for AT&T, provided a screen capture of a retail store merchandising reset schedule. The image shows that AT&T stores have scheduled merchandise resets for September 9 and 23. The first date corresponds with Evan's suggestion, and it is expected that preorders for the iPhone 7 will begin at that time.

However, the second date is precisely one week later than Blass predicted. September 16 and the 23 both fall on a Friday, which is typically the day of the week when Apple releases its iPhones. Therefore, 9to5Mac suggests that the iPhone 7 release date will fall on that date.

A merchandise reset is when retailers rearrange in-store products to feature newer stock. When new products come in, stores want to display them prominently for higher sales potential. Typically, older products are moved to lower shelves, and the new merchandise or advertising for upcoming products is placed on shelves that are closer to eye-level. So, what this means is that AT&T is expecting new products.

The iPhone 7 release date falling two weeks after preorders begin is not unheard of as 9to5Mac points out.
"Put in historical context, both the September 16 and September 23 release dates are possible based on September 9 pre-orders. In 2014, the iPhone 6 launched on September 19 after a September 12 pre-order (7 days); and in 2015, the iPhone 6s launched on September 25 after a September 12 pre-order (13 days) so either a one week or two week period between pre-orders and launch is possible."
The fact that the resets are occurring around the time that Blass predicted the iPhone 7 would be released is purely circumstantial, but the assumption certainly makes sense. However, 9to5Mac notes that these reset dates could be meant for other products such as the LG V20, which is also releasing next month.

Despite the iPhone 7's release date, it will most assuredly be released with the upcoming iOS 10 operating system, which TechRadar reports is in the beta testing phase right now. The new iOS will feature "raise to awake," eliminating the need to touch any buttons to view notifications, speaking of which, the new notices will be sensitive to 3D Touch. This feature will allow more options for handling notifications and will enable users to see more information about them such as the first few lines of an email notification.

The new iPhone operating system will also have a redesigned Control Center, widget functionality, an entirely new iMessages app, the ability to hide unused, default apps, and much more.

Changes coming to the iPhone 7 itself are still largely rumor and speculation. However, prominent rumors indicate that the iPhone 7 will have a larger battery, higher resolution screen, and memory sufficient to store 256 GB of data. Apple is also supposedly eliminating the 3.5 mm headphone jack and replacing it with a second speaker for stereo sound. According to MacWorld, the iPhone 7 Plus version will have a higher resolution dual-lens camera produced by LinX. Both versions are also rumored to be waterproof. However, all of these features are pure speculation until Apple holds its press event next month.

The iPhone 7 release date should also be considered speculative as well, albeit somewhat more reliable. Evan Blass says preorders for iPhone 7 will start on September 9, with which 9to5Mac agrees. However, they disagree with Blass on the availability date, contending that it will hit shelves on September 23, one week after Evan predicts.

Who is more reliable? We'll find out next month.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]