The next-generation iPhone 7 could be more rugged with a waterproof and dustproof design, while also sporting a new construction that moves away from the all-metal build of current models.

The latest iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus barely made their commercial debut, going on sale on Friday, Sept. 25, but the rumor mill is already busy churning in anticipation of Apple's next-generation iPhone 7.

The company's 2016 flagship smartphone is still one year away, but some bits of information are already breaking the surface and hinting at what it may have to offer.

As first spotted by Japanese publication Mac Otakara, a couple of new posts on Chinese microblogging site Weibo claim that Apple already has some iPhone 7 prototypes in production. The next-generation iPhone 7 could apparently feature a number of design changes that would mark a notable shift from the iPhone models Apple released in the last few years.

The first post on Weibo reveals that the iPhone 7 will boast a more rugged design with waterproof and dustproof capabilities. Considering that a number of Android handsets already offer more ruggedness and durability, it could make sense for Apple to make its next-generation iPhone more rugged as well.

No iPhone so far has offered a waterproof design, but Apple did make some progress in this area with its latest iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, which are more resistant to water than previous iterations. They're still not waterproof, however, and the iPhone 7 could change that.

A second Weibo post, meanwhile, claims that Apple will use a new casing material for its next iPhone, suggesting that the iPhone 7 will no longer have the all-metal build of the current iPhone 6s (pictured above) and iPhone 6s Plus. It remains unclear at this point just what other material Apple plans to use for the iPhone 7 frame, but the company has reportedly developed the first prototype already. The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are reportedly the last iPhones to use metallic frames.

Lastly, the iPhone 7 is also rumored to sport a "completely flat" LCD panel, whatever that may mean exactly.

Either way, the next-generation iPhone is a full year away and a lot can change in the meantime, so take all such leaks and reports with a healthy dose of skepticism.

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