Hang on a minute, shouldn’t the next iPhone be the iPhone 7s? It still could be. Leaks and more rumours are pointing to not one but three new iPhones, two of which may well be branded as iPhone 7s and 7s Plus models. The main launch, though, would be the flagship, 10th anniversary iPhone’.
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We’d be surprised if Apple goes for that naming convention, however, and other rumours say it could even be called simply ‘The iPhone’, or iPhone Pro, but for now we’ll stick to calling it the iPhone 8 for simplicity.
That’s the main specs covered, but here are the other rumours:
- The main logic board will be in two pieces instead of the traditional one
- Apple may move the SIM tray to the bottom edge (this could be to allow room for other internal components or to include a Smart Connector)
- Quick charging will be supported when using a cable
- New speaker design could make the phone the thinnest ever
- It will use an OLED screen from Samsung
- Facial recognition in addition to fingerprint scanner
- Laser sensor for gesture recognition
The latest video from ConceptsiPhone does a decent job of showing what the iPhone 8 might look like. It’s interesting to see an idea of how the bottom of the display might be used, similar to the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro.
Although still months away, we can fairly confidently predict the iPhone 8 releasedate. Assuming the annual September announcement tradition continues, the iPhone release date will be in September 2017. However, 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone launch, so we wouldn’t be too surprised if Apple mixed things up a bit (it launched the SE – pictured below – in March).
According to Tech Trader Daily (via MacRumours), Apple might be putting the iPhone into production in June, sooner than expected. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the launch will be earlier than September given the potentially radical design change.
It’s not necessarily going to be called the iPhone 8, of course, but that’s the name we’re using to keep things simple.
iPhone 8, iPhone 7S, iPhone X or something else? What will the iPhone in 2017 be called?
As we’ve mentioned, the iPhone for 2017 is slightly harder to predict because it will mark a big anniversary for the smartphone.
The latest rumours are that Apple will release three new iPhone models as part of the main lineup. This could well be the ‘S’ versions of the 7 and 7 Plus, and the extra ‘iPhone 8’, an even more premium flagship with ‘revolutionary’ features.
The Wall Street Journal says: “Apple plans bigger design changes for 2017, the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone. Those changes could include an edge-to-edge organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, screen and eliminating the home button by building the fingerprint sensor into the display, according to people familiar with the matter.
“At a meeting with an Apple executive, one of the company’s China-based engineers asked why this year’s model [the iPhone 7] lacked a major design change in keeping with Apple’s usual two-year cycle. The answer, one person at the meeting recalled, was that the new technology in the pipeline will take time to implement. People familiar with the matter said some features that Apple hopes to integrate into iPhones, such as curved screens, weren’t ready for this year’s models,” it added.
If Apple follows the usual pattern, the iPhone 7 that launched this year will be followed by the iPhone 7S in 2017. The fact that it’s 10 years since the original iPhone means this could all go out the window. Apple will want to do something special to celebrate the occasion so an ‘S’ model, which usually just brings small tweaks, won’t suffice.
It’s pretty much anyone’s guess at the moment, hence, we’re calling the 2017 model the iPhone 8 at the moment but it’s perfectly plausible that the new phone won’t conform to the traditional naming system at all. The iPhone SE (special edition) is already a thing, so perhaps Apple will go with ‘iPhone Pro’, iPhone Anniversary Edition’ or even just ‘iPhone’ – although naming the iPad 3 as ‘the new iPad’ didn’t go down too well.
A report from Nikkei suggested that in 2017 there would be three new iPhone models. It sounded as though we were in for the usual 4.7- and 5.5in models (the regular and Plus), plus a third new ‘Pro’ model with a 5.5in or above curved screen. Its source said the screen would be “bent on the two sides” making it sound like a Galaxy Note 7 rival. Of course, this didn’t happen with the iPhone 7, though it doesn’t mean we won’t see a curved-screen.
We’re speculating for now, of course, as the iPhone 7 has only recently gone on sale. Whether Apple will introduce a price increase for the potentially special iPhone 8 is anyone’s guess. However, the iPhone 7 price jumped up to £599 in the UK thanks to Brexit and we hope that it will stay the same with next year’s anniversary model. However, in light of the latest leaks, the ‘anniversary’ model seems to be an ultra-premium device that could cost more than any iPhone yet. At least one report claims it will be more than $1000 in the US.
Although one analyst predicts the iPhone 8 will be the best selling model ever – with up to 150m sales – another is worried that following the anniversary edition, Apple will see a possible 10 year slump afterwards.
It is believed that moving to OLED for the iPhone 8 will push up costs as much as $50m for Apple, eating into the firm’s profit margin. Whether the firm takes the hit and keeps the price of the phone the same or not remains to be seen.
iPhone 8 specifications and new features
If Apple does indeed do something special for the iPhone’s 10th anniversary, which is ever more likely from all the leaks, the iPhone 8 will be one which fans will no doubt want to upgrade to on launch day. Could we see the biggest queues ever?
A combination of design and hardware changes will make the new iPhone the most radical new iPhone to date, if we are to go by the rumours and leaks.
It seems certain that the iPhone 8 will have an OLED screen – like the Samsung Galaxy S7 – rather than the traditional IPS tech Apple has used previously.
A recent KGI report says that it will be a 5.8in screen which will fit into a chassis a similar size to the current 4.7in iPhone and that the phone will have a significantly higher capacity battery.
Here’s a diagram from the report which illustrates how the iPhone 8 will slot into the range:
As you can see, the screen will have two parts. A 5.15in ‘main’ screen with a resolution of 2,436 x 1,125 pixels and a separate ‘function area’ across the bottom. This is likely to be where the integrated fingerprint scanner will live, and it may operate like the Touch Bar on the latest MacBook Pro laptops.
Whatever turns out to be the case, the screens are coming from Samsung. The Korean Herald reported that a source confirmed the order from Samsung and that – like the screen on the Galaxy S7 Edge – it will be made from plastic and not glass. Typically glass is only used for flat screens, so this is not too surprising.
And now according to GSMarena, the deal between Apple and Samsung for the screens is now finalised.
The iPhone 8 won’t be the first to have a bezel-less screen. Xiaomi has already launched the Mi Mix, reviewed. It’s a stunning device and the first of a new category of phones with it’s 91.3 percent screen-to-body ratio, according to the firm.
A Facebook post by Robert Scoble – a well-known tech strategist – reveals new details about the next iPhone. In the lengthy post Scoble claims to have been told that it will be “a clear piece of glass… which will put holograms on top of the real world like Microsoft HoloLens does”. He also says the phone will have an OLED screen and that Apple has 600 engineers working on a next-generation 3D sensor and that the phone will have eye sensors. These will bring “a new kind of interface”. He also says that you’ll “pop it into a headset which has eye sensors on it, which enables the next iPhone to have a higher apparent frame rate and polygon count than a PC with a Nvidia 1080 card in it.”
Plus, he says that new sources revealed we can “expect battery and antennas to be hidden around the edges of the screen, which explains how Apple will fit in some of the pieces even while most of the chips that make up a phone are in a pack/strip at the bottom of the phone.”
These sound like ridiculous predictions, especially the part about the phone being transparent – battery tech is not yet good enough to make one small enough to “hide” – but if true, the iPhone 8 will be a revolution rather than the evolution we’ve seen with the iPhone 7 this year. We’ll continue to update this article as new information appears, but here’s how things stand right now.
This concept image via ConceptsiPhone shows what an edge-to-edge OLED displayiPhone might look like:
Jony Ive has wanted to introduce an iPhone which resembles a single sheet of glass for a long time and the 2017 anniversary iPhone could be the one. It’s rumoured that at least one iPhone in 2017 will use a glass body, according to Apple supplier Catcher Technology. Glass on the front and back would make it like a hugely updated version of the iPhone 4S.
This, combined with the rumour that the iPhone 8 will sport an edge-to-edge OLED screen makes things rather interesting.
Allen Horng, chairman and chief executive of Catcher Technology, a key supplier said: “As far as I know, only one [iPhone] model will adopt glass casing next year. I don’t think this move will have an impact on Catcher’s revenue as glass casing still needs a durable metal frame which requires advanced processing technology and would not be cheaper than the current model.”
However, don’t get your hopes up. Although Foxconn – the manufacturer of iPhones in China – has been experimenting with building a glass chassis for around a year, it is likely too early to put it into mass production. Current tooling is all for aluminium chassis and that’s where the expertise and investment is. A switch to glass – or ceramic or some other material – would be such a massive change that there would be far more leaks backing up these rumours. Put simply, we don’t believe that the iPhone 8 will be an all-glass machine.
In-screen Touch ID home button
What’s much more likely is that the home button will be ‘virtual’ in the latest iPhone. This makes sense, and is surely one of the features of the ‘function area’ in the diagram earlier.
But will Apple ditch Touch ID? Previous rumours say no but another new Apple patent for an “Acoustic Imaging System Architecture” suggest otherwise.
It’s impossible to know what Apple will do, since there are so many patents. One Apple patentshows that the new iPhone’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which is usually situated beneath the Home button, could be built-in to the entire display, eliminating the need for a Home button and making room for a larger display without enlarging the overall size of the smartphone.
These rumours seemed pretty far fetched to begin with, but it might just happen. Sonavation recently announced that it has found a way to insert ultrasonic biometric sensors underneath a Gorilla Glass display, still being able to read a user’s fingerprints.
The newly developed tech is “well suited for through-the-glass fingerprinting and specifically architected to deliver advanced security
The company claims that it can even do one better than the existing Touch ID (and most other fingerprint scanners on the market) by being able to scan fingerprints on a finger that’s wet, dirty or oily. Though it’s not clear which devices will be the first to feature this new technology, but we assume it’d either be the iPhone or a flagship Android smartphone.
Another patent has been awarded to Apple for a button which places the fingerprint sensing technology underneath the screen. Named a ‘capacitive fingerprint sensor including an electrostatic lens’, it means the Touch ID fingerprint sensor can work through various layers of the display.
Yet another patent, via Apple Insider, deals with the light sensor – the one which adjusts the screen brightness automatically. It’s called ‘Electronic Devices With Display-Integrated Light Sensors’ and explains that having a light sensor can result in an increase in the size and weight of the device so “it would therefore be desirable to be able to provide improved electronic devices with light sensors and displays.”
3D front-facing camera
However, Macrumours says that a JP Morgan analyst claims there will be no fingerprint recognition at all, and that Apple will instead embed a front-facing 3D laser scanner that will be able to accurately recognise your face. This will avoid the problem where Touch ID doesn’t work if you have wet fingers – or the sensor has water on it. He says it will also be more secure, which could lead to more companies – including banks – supporting Apple Pay.
This theory is backed up by Kuo of KGI Securities whose latest report, via 9to5Mac, says Apple will put an enhanced front camera and an IR sensor in order to build up a 3D model of the user’s face.
The report also says that Apple’s 3D algorithms are “years ahead” of Android, and such a feature could be an iPhone exclusive for a couple of years before Android phone makers catch up.
More display rumours
As pointed out by Patently Apple, yet more patents suggest a curved-glass design and also that the sides of the phone could be used for virtual buttons. For example, this could be used for certain controls when the camera app is in use. If true, the phone would rival Samsung’s edge screen features.
There were also some rumours we heard about the iPhone 7’s screen that never made it to fruition. It’s possible that they could see daylight with the iPhone 8.
Economic Daily News speculated that the iPhone 7 could feature a 3D display, and one that doesn’t require the use of those annoying 3D glasses. The website claimed at the time that Apple supply chain partner TPK is working on a project that could produce a glasses-free 3D display, though we’re not holding out much hope for this as its been done before (remember the LG Optimus 3D?) and has never done well.
There were also some rumours to suggest that the iPhone 7 could have a sidewall display, similar to that found on the Galaxy S7 edge and Note 7. This came from an Apple patent that was published in 2015. The patent hints at a future iPhone with a display that extends onto the sides of the device, providing interactive or touch sensitive portions that give access to slide-to-unlock functionality, music player controls, messaging readout, called ID, system controls and more.
One of Apple’s partners, Japan Display, is working in flexible an foldable screens similar to Samsung and LG. Whether this will end up in the iPhone 8 remains to be seen – it’s unlikely but still interesting. Apple has plenty of patents describing bendable and folding devices, according to TechnoBuffalo.
More details on the screen tech include that Apple is supposedly working on a new generation of 3D Touch. According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the firm will make it from a thin film in order to introduce enhanced sensitivity – via AppleInsider.