Economic Daily News is reporting that Apple suppliers have begun hiring en-masse this month as they prepare for assembly of Apple’s upcoming flagship iPhone, the iPhone 7. The new iPhones (coming in 4.7 inch and 5.5 inch sizes) are expected to debut in the fall, following tradition. The report comes via CNBC.

Interestingly, the report notes that the surge in hiring at Foxconn and Pegatron is happening earlier than usual (‘at least a month earlier’). Apparently, the new Apple iPhone includes a ‘more complex design’ than previous models meaning suppliers need more time to train staff about the assembly process. This somewhat contradicts previous leaks in the rumor mill which indicated the iPhone 7 would look very similar to the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus …

The general consensus of leaks about iPhone 7 have suggested it will feature a design very similar to the current iPhone lineup, with tweaked antenna lines. Although Apple has made major external chassis changes to the iPhone hardware every two years in the past, expectations of such a radical redesign in 2016 had been lowered given the leaks. Reports from KGI indicated a major iPhone revamp was not due until 2017 (iPhone 8?), featuring an all-glass chassis with AMOLED screen.

Perhaps those rumors were wrong and a more substantial overhaul is indeed coming later this year. Another possibility is that Economic Daily News is inaccurate (it wouldn’t be the first time). Foxconn and Pegatron are hiring earlier than normal as evidenced by messages on their factory websites … but it’s very possible there is another reason for the sooner start. Apple may have asked suppliers to prepare more phones in advance of the launch, to prevent supply chain stock issues common with previous launches.

In terms of new features, the iPhone 7 will likely include new internal components such as Apple’s next-generation A10 SoC processor and graphics for better performance. KGI has suggested the phones will include 3 GB RAM for the first time. Digitimes is reporting Intel will provide next-generation LTE chips for the handset.

A dual-camera system for the back of the iPhone 7 has also been widely rumored but is slated to be exclusive to the 5.5 inch iPhone 7 Plus only. The iPhone 7 is also expected to drop the headphone jack completely, instead relying on Bluetooth or Lightning accessories for audio output.

If the iPhone 7 is going into production soon, expect more leaks to follow in the next couple of months as Apple finalizes component and chassis choices. The new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are expected to publicly debut in the fall, around September. iOS 10 may also give some clues as to what expect from the new hardware; Apple will release the first betas of iOS 10 at WWDC in June.

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