New leaked iPhone 7 photo shows a change you never saw coming

If you believe the conclusions that have been reached by some tech bloggers and smartphone fans following early iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus leaks, this year’s new iPhone models are going to be boring. Forget the fact that absolutely nothing has been confirmed at this point and forget the fact that we have yet to hear anything about new features that Apple might plan to introduce alongside its new iPhone models. Boring…

You’re crazy if you think we already know all there is to know about Apple’s next-generation iPhones. Even if we operate under the assumption that everything we’ve seen so far is accurate, what new flagship feature is Apple cooking up for this year’s launch? What exactly is that dual camera setup going to do on the iPhone 7 Plus? And what about the Smart Connector on the back?

There are plenty more unknowns as well, and more puzzle pieces will undoubtedly fall in place in the coming weeks and months. Case in point: A fresh leak on Wednesday may have revealed a major change that we never saw coming.

Back in late May, we enjoyed what was likely our first look at a real iPhone 7. The phone certainly doesn’t appear to feature a revolutionary redesign of any kind, but it does look like it improves upon the current iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s design in a number of key ways. Namely, it’s thinner and it sports less offensive antenna lines.

But around front, things may be an entirely different story.

A new photo posted by MobiPicker shows us what the gadget blog claims to be the front of an iPhone 7. The authenticity of the image isn’t confirmed, but it shows a huge change that hasn’t previously been reported by any solid sources.

Here’s the photo in question:

Let’s look a bit closer:

Now, we’ve known for some time that Apple is hard at work trying to remove the home button from its iPhone and iPad lineup. The company has been awarded a number of patents for technology that might allow Apple to embed its Touch ID fingerprint sensor beneath a device’s display. As a result, Apple would be able to build much more compact devices since it wouldn’t need so much room beneath the screen.

The iPhone 7 might be the first big step toward realizing that goal.

In the leaked photo, the iPhone 7’s home button doesn’t appear to be a button at all. Instead, it looks like a touch sensitive tap target with the Touch ID fingerprint sensor embedded beneath it. And in all likelihood, if this photo does show a real iPhone 7 — and that’s a big “if” — the new capacitive home button will support 3D Touch as well. This would let Apple release a device that still supports all of the same home button features as earlier models, including things like Reachability and Siri, without the need for a physical button.

With reports stating that early iPhone 7 production is already underway, we probably won’t have to wait long before this rumor is either corroborated or disproven by subsequent leaks.