The short answer is “Yes,” and the long answer continues with, “and it’s starting to look like they just might.”
I don't know why I thought that Apple would, without question, ditch the 16GB base model in the iPhone 7. I guess I figured that the charade of keeping it up this long would end with a fresh generation. The 7 is already shaping up to be one of the most iconic iPhones yet, for better or for worse, and a recent leak managed to bring both excellent and horrible rumors to the table.
According to a report by 9to5Mac, a leak from Weibo shows a 256GB internal storage component for the newest iPhone. That's great news! 256GB is a lot of storage. And surely if they’re doubling the max internal storage, they'll finally move on from the 16GB variant this time around, right?
Apparently not. Alongside the 256GB component shows a 64GB and 16GB component as well.
I try my best to take these rumors with a grain of salt, but I can't help but believe that this could very easily be true. After all, it's not like Apple has given us much reason to think they're ready to move on from the 16GB model yet, and we’ve been expecting it for two or three years at this point. And should these numbers hold any truth to them, that wold be two models that don't receive upgrades – although the 64GB model is more forgivable than the 16GB.
The sad thing is, aside from ethics I don’t see why they wouldn't. Every year that I've come across rumors of the 16GB model making yet another return, there are always comments from at least one person who says that the 16GB model works really well for their mom or something. And typically two or three more people will chime in saying their parents/grandparents/pet ferret are the same way. They don't need the extra storage. And while I understand that 16GB works well and fine for some people, I hardly think that it's a good fit for the majority anymore. With all of the apps, streaming media, and camera upgrades that we have, 16GB is just an abysmal amount for even the most casual of users to work with for long. Yet, at the end of the day it just ends up being a "whatever" issue because what are people going to do, buy an iPhone from somebody else?
It sucks because iOS is a good, solid platform that works great for a lot of people. Unlike Android, though, Apple is the sole manufacturer for iOS devices. If you love iOS but aren't happy with the iPhone for lack of sufficient storage in the base model, you have to make a tough decision: deal with an insufficient amount of storage, pony up for a more expensive model, or switch to something else entirely. Nothing really seems like a big win for the consumer here.
I truly hope these rumors are just rumors. The iPhone 7 is already under fire for potentially ditching the 3.5mm headphone jack. I can't imagine that keeping the 16GB variant around for yet another year would generate much positive feedback. Honestly, it's a little hard to believe that this is true solely due to the fact that it's 2016, and 16GB was considered forward and innovative in the industry – by Apple, no less – 5 or so years ago. That’s a long time by technology’s standards.
Truthfully, I don't know why I still expect something different. I guess because even when I keep my expectations low in this case, I still come out disappointed. At this point it's almost better to hope for the best and lose rather than hope to lose and lose anyway. I’m not sure which is worse.
Readers, what do you think about Apple’s long-running streak of using a 16GB base tier model? Do you think the iPhone 7 will keep this streak going? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!