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I really hope the iPhone 16 doesn’t look like this

Prototype renders of the iPhone 16.

Say what you will about Apple, the world’s biggest smartphone brand is not a fan of new designs. That’s been evident from the past five generations of iPhones to hit the market. And if a fresh leak is to be believed, the iPhone 16 series will only shatter hopes of an aesthetic overhaul.

MacRumors has obtained purported renders of at least three design candidates that Apple is developing for the vanilla iPhone 16 models. Two of them look virtually identical to the iPhone 15, while the third — and braver — option brings back the iPhone X’s camera module look.

Rear camera view of the iPhone 16 leaked design models.

Depicted in a light canary yellow shade, this design combines flat sides and colored glass with the black, pill-shaped vertical camera array of the iPhone X. But to tell you that it’s not an old design revived half a decade later, Apple designers have put the black camera array on the shiny glass hump, creating a contrast of colors and surface finish.

But despite that trick, I can’t get over the resemblance with Xiaomi’s Mi 11 Lite, which costs nearly one-third of what Apple commands for its non-Pro iPhones. It’s also ironic that Xiaomi has been consistently bashed for shamelessly aping Apple.

Rear view of Xiaomi 11 Lite.
That’s Xiaomi’s Mi 11 Lite mid-ranger phone. Xiaomi.

The other two design candidates pull off something even more brazenly lazy. Remember when Apple took the iPhone 11’s vertical camera lens array, turned it into a diagonal array, and called it a fresh design for the iPhone? Well, Apple is once again doing the same, it seems. But this time, it is going reverse on the design evolution path.

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On the iPhone 16 mainline models, Apple could revive the vertical camera lens arrangement. The only other potential changes being discussed are the addition of a large “capture” button on the phone’s lower half.

Another experiment that is on the design table is flat, joined volume buttons. The switch is gone, but compared to the tiny action button on the iPhone 15 Pro pair, the iPhone 16 series will reportedly go with a much bigger customizable mute button.

Left edge profile of leaked iPhone 16 design renders.

As per the renders, it would either match the size of the individual volume buttons or be of the same proportions as the power button. The leak report also mentions the possibility of haptic feedback, a rumor that also set social media on fire with the possibility of solid-state buttons on the iPhone 15 series.

That didn’t materialize, but it seems the iPhone 16 could very well treat buyers to the tech. Apple is said to have experimented with black, light pink, and light yellow shades for the iPhone 16, but more colors are definitely on the table.

But do keep in mind these are design candidates. Apple could very well have many more on the discussion table in its secretive labs. It’s also plausible that the models depicted in the leaked renders are nixed, and the iPhone 16 ends up looking much different.

right edge profile of leaked iPhone 16 renders.

As far as features go, we are expecting a new chip, but don’t expect any ambitious changes to the camera hardware. The iPhone 15 series already has the new Dynamic Island treatment on the front and a more capable 48-megapixel main camera.

Will Apple finally warm up to the idea of “smooth scrolling screens for the masses” by putting a 120Hz panel on the iPhone 16? We don’t know, but I certainly hope that happens. Given Apple’s history, however, I won’t pin my hopes on any such ambitious, wishful thoughts.

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