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Apple’s iPhone 8 – Coming in 2017

2017 will mark the 10th anniversary of the iPhone and Apple has something major planned to celebrate the occasion. We’ve got several months to go until the launch of the iPhone 8, but because of Apple’s ambitious plans for the device, there are already an abundance of rumors hinting at the impressive features coming in the 2017 iPhone.

Apple is rumored to be testing more than 10 prototype iPhone models, so it’s not entirely clear what we’re going to see, and because there are so many test devices in play, rumors are also conflicting and murky at this time.

Rumors suggest the iPhone 8 will feature a radical redesign, with an edge-to-edge display that does away with the top and bottom bezels where features like the Touch ID fingerprint sensor and the front-facing camera are housed. Instead, most rumors suggest Touch ID will be built directly into the display, meaning there will be no physical Home button. Apple was rumored to be having trouble implementing Touch ID under the display, but the company may have overcome those issues.

With an edge-to-edge design, the iPhone 8 may be similar in size to the 4.7-inch iPhone, but with a display the size of the 5.5-inch iPhone. Rumors suggest it will feature a 5.8-inch display with 5.15 inches of usable area, with the rest dedicated to virtual buttons that will replace the existing Home button.

The display itself is said to be flexible plastic OLED rather than an LCD, allowing Apple to introduce a thinner device that consumes less power and offers a better display with higher contrast ratio and more true to life colors. Early rumors suggested it could feature edges that are curved on both sides like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, but it’s looking more like it will have the same slightly curved 2.5D display that’s similar to the displayused in the iPhone 7 because Apple suppliers still have difficultyproducing more curved displays.

As for the body, rumors suggest Apple is finally going to move away from the aluminum used in the iPhone 5, 5s, 6, 6s, 7, and SE, instead re-adopting a glass body that’s similar to the body that was used in the iPhone 4. At least one iPhone model coming in 2017 will use a glass body, according to Apple supplier Catcher Technology, and according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the glass will be built around a polished stainless steel frame that’s similar in design to the Apple Watch.

“iPhone 8” concept based on alleged leaked design renderings
Like the iPhone 7, the iPhone 8 is expected to be water resistant, but it may have an improved IP68 water resistance rating. It will continue to be able to hold up to rain, splashes, and brief submersion in water. One rumor suggested the iPhone 8 could adopt a USB-C port instead of a Lightning port, but later information suggests Apple will stick with the Lightning port in 2017.

Inside, the iPhone 8 is expected to have a 10-nanometer A11 chip that will be both faster and more efficient, plus rumors suggest it could also include features like wireless charging and biometric additions like iris, facial, or gesture recognition. In higher-end models with a dual-lens camera, both lenses are expected to feature optical image stabilization.

The iPhone 8’s front-facing camera may include 3D sensing capabilities that use technology by PrimeSense, allowing it to find the location and depth of objects in front of it, perhaps enabling facial and iris recognition. Rumors suggest Apple is exploring both a vertical rear camera for improved pictures and a dual-camera setup for the front-facing FaceTime camera.

Apple is said to be planning to position the OLED iPhone 8 as a ~5-inch “premium” model that will be sold alongside standard 4.7 and 5.5-inch iPhone models with traditional LCD screens.

All three models may include faster A11 processors, glass bodies and wireless charging (though rumors disagree on this point), but it is unclear if the two LCD models will feature the same edge-to-edge display rumored for the higher-end device and what differentiating features will be included. Rumors suggest the OLED iPhone is going to be pricy, with multiple rumors referring to it as “premium” and one rumor suggesting it could sell for upwards of $1,000, which is a good deal more expensive than previous iPhones. Other rumors don’t quite agree, though, so it could be closer in price to the iPhone 7 Plus.

“iPhone 8” rendering said to be based on leaked CAD drawings
Given the radical design changes Apple plans to introduce in the OLED iPhone, rumors have been suggesting there will be serious supply constraints. Apple may introduce the ~5-inch OLED iPhone at a September event alongside the standard 4.7 and 5.5-inch devices, but there’s a chance it won’t be released until one or two months after its introduction. Alternatively, it may be available in small numbers, with the majority of people unable to get their hands on it until the first quarter of 2018.

Schematics, Design Leaks, and Cases

Early iPhone 8 design schematics started surfacing in April, but the leaks haven’t entirely cleared up questions about what we can expect from the device. We’re seeing at least two distinct designs depicted in current leaked schematics and renderings because Apple is said to be testing multiple iPhone 8 prototypes. With early leaks, it’s often difficult to tell what’s accurate, so take the below information with a grain of salt until part leaks and other more reliable information starts to surface.

PROTOTYPE 1:

The first design we’re seeing appears to have an edge-to-edge display, a glass body, and no visible Touch ID button anywhere on the device, pointing towards an iPhone 8 with Touch ID located under the display. This is the design that matches up with many of the rumors that we’ve heard about the iPhone 8.

An alleged rendering featuring that first design, pictured below, depicts a device that measures 137.54mm tall by 67.54mm wide, similar in size to the iPhone 7. Thickness is not shown, but there’s a nearly edge-to-edge display that measures 5.767 inches on the diagonal. A 4mm bezel is pictured around the display, with half of that being the 2.5D curved glass at the edges. All of this is in line with rumors suggesting an iPhone 7-sized device with an iPhone 7 Plus-sized display.

A narrow earpiece is depicted on the front of the device alongside cameras and sensors that appear to be embedded in the display area. There is no Home button and no visible Touch ID sensor.

An image of what’s said to be an iPhone 8 CNC dummy model sourced from Foxconn surfaced in late April, and it features a prototype 1 design with front and rear panels made from slightly curved 2.5D glass held together with a stainless steel frame. Those steel edges will reportedly be finished a polished “Space Black” color in at least one of the devices.

The dummy iPhone 8 appears to be thicker than existing iPhone models, but it features an edge-to-edge screen, presumably with Touch ID built in, as there is no Home button. At the rear of the device, there’s a vertical dual-lens camera with no other markings. There is no rear Touch ID sensor nor an Apple logo.

At the sides, there are volume buttons and a mute switch on the left, with an elongated power button and a SIM tray on the right.

We’ve also seen prototype 1 schematics “based on blueprints” that allegedly give a look at the sensors located under the display and inside the device. At the top of the device, there’s an embedded camera, flash, and ambient light sensors.

None of these images can be verified, nor were they shared by someone with a known track record for accurate leaks, so this may or may not be an actual iPhone 8 dummy unit.

An alleged rear shell schematic, which may or may not be legitimate, depicts a vertical dual-lens rear camera with an LED flash in the middle, and it includes a large circular area, perhaps for some kind of wireless charging functionality. No rear Touch ID button is pictured.

An iPhone case said to be for the iPhone 8 has leaked, showing off a design that’s similar to many of the prototype 1 renderings. It features a cutout for a vertical dual-lens rear camera and because it has no cutout for Touch ID or other features, it suggests it is for a device with no rear-facing Touch ID button.

It continues to have pill-shaped volume buttons, but there is a longer power button located on the left, something we’ve also seen in renderings and other desk leaks.

Renders said to be based on leaked factory CAD images provide perhaps the clearest look yet on what the prototype 1 OLED iPhone might look like, depicting an edge-to-edge display and rear dual vertical camera, with no Touch ID button in sight.

The renders are based on a design that is 144mm tall, 71mm wide, and 7.7mm thick, which is thicker than the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

If legitimate, photos that allegedly show molds of the upcoming 2017 ~5-inch OLED iPhone, 4.7-inch iPhone, and 5.5-inch offer a look at the size differences between the devices. The 5.5-inch iPhone continues to be much larger, while the OLED iPhone, which is rumored to have a 5.8-inch display, is similar in size to the 4.7-inch iPhone because it has no display bezels.

The 5.8-inch iPhone mold has a vertical camera and a longer power button, two features that have been seen in previous leaks. It’s not clear if these are molds for the iPhone or for molds that are used for things like third-party cases, but the sizes do appear to match up with rumors we’ve been hearing about the devices.

Japanese site Mac Otakara found an iPhone 8 case on Alibaba, and used it to make some size comparisons to the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus. The iPhone case in question is similar in design to many of the leaked prototype 1 design drawings and dummy models that that have been seen, and it could potentially be representative of the final design of the iPhone 8.

If accurate, this is the best estimation we’ve had yet of the size of the iPhone 8. The case is a good deal smaller than the iPhone 7 Plus, but slightly larger than the iPhone 7.

An iPhone 7 placed inside the case suggests the iPhone 7 will be just a bit wider than the iPhone 7, but quite a bit taller. The iPhone 7 is “loose” in the case, as the iPhone 8 is also expected to be thicker.

iPhone 8 renders based on a device that’s 144mm tall, 71mm wide, and 7.7mm thick were compared to the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, giving us another look at how the iPhone 8 fits into the iPhone lineup.

The iPhone 8, if the measurement predictions are accurate, is wider, thicker, and taller than the iPhone 7, but not as large as the iPhone 7 Plus.

PROTOTYPE 2:

The second distinct design we’ve been seeing features an almost edge-to-edge display with slim bezels at the top and the bottom, along with a vertical dual camera and a Touch ID fingerprint sensor located at the back of the device. The rendering also suggests the device is 8.6mm thick, a good deal thicker than the 7.1mm iPhone 7.

A schematic said to be sourced from Foxconn
This may have been an early prototype developed because Apple was rumored to he having trouble putting the Touch ID fingerprint sensor under the display of the device, so it’s possible the rear Touch ID design was conceived as a backup plan. Should Apple figure out its manufacturing issues, and rumors suggest it has, this is not the design we’ll be seeing in the finalized device.

Another design schematic features a similar build, with an aluminum chassis that’s similar to the chassis of the iPhone 7 and a circular cutout that could potentially be for a Touch ID fingerprint sensor or a contact-based wireless charging module.

According to the schematic, the device measures in at 149.5mm tall and 72.5mm wide, slightly larger than the 4.7-inch iPhone 7, which measures in at 138.3mm by 67.1mm.

A render of a full rear shell based on the design leaks gives a better idea of what the aluminum iPhone prototype might look like should Apple fail to integrate Touch ID into the display. It depicts a dual vertical rear camera and a cutout, likely for a Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

Given the mixed information, it’s not yet clear which of the devices pictured above is what we’ll see in the fall, but it rumors seem to be coalescing around the first design with Touch ID built into the display. Apple’s design plans should become clearer as a release date approaches and we see more design details and part leaks.

Naming

Following Apple’s standard naming scheme, with a numeric increase during even years to mark external design changes and an “S” increase during odd years to denote internal feature updates only, the 2017 iPhone would be called the “iPhone 7s.”

Given the major changes Apple plans to introduce to the iPhone in 2017, it seems unlikely the device will receive an “S” name, so there’s a good chance Apple may decide to skip directly to the next full number, naming the 2017 iPhone the iPhone 8.

2007 – iPhone
2008 – iPhone 3G
2009 – iPhone 3GS
2010 – iPhone 4 (new design)
2011 – iPhone 4s
2012 – iPhone 5 (new design)
2013 – iPhone 5s
2014 – iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (new design)
2015 – iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus
2016 – iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
2017 – iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

iPhone 8 is a tentative name for the device — it has not yet been confirmed by Apple — but it seems to be the most logical choice for a major update. There’s always the possibility Apple will call it something else or make 2017 the year it moves away from a numbered iPhone naming scheme.

Work on the 2017 iPhone is said to be taking place in Israel, and one report suggests employees at the facility are calling the device “iPhone 8,” but it continues to be unclear as to whether that’s the official name Apple will go with.

Apple is also rumored to be planning to produce a total of three iPhone models in 2017, further confusing the potential naming scheme. As two these devices could perhaps be similar in style to the existing iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, sold alongside the flagship OLED model, some rumors suggest they could be called the “iPhone 7s” and an “iPhone 7s Plus.” In that case, we’d have an iPhone 7s, and iPhone 7s Plus, and an iPhone 8 or some other name like iPhone X or iPhone Pro.

Japanese site Mac Otakara believes the iPhone 8 might actually be called the “iPhone Edition,” after the higher-end Apple Watch Edition models. Such a name would reportedly reinforce its position as a high end iPhone that’s meant to be sold alongside two standard iPhone models.

Design

For the iPhone 8, Apple is rumored to be planning to move away from the aluminum body that it’s been using since 2012 in an effort to differentiate the iPhone from the devices that have come before it. Apple is expected to instead re-adopt the glass-backed body last used for the iPhone 4s. Glass is more fragile and heavier than aluminum, but many advances have been made in glass technology and materials like Gorilla Glass are sturdier than ever, which may help prevent breakage.

Multiple rumors have suggested there will be three versions of the iPhone: a “premium” OLED model and two standard LCD devices, with sizes that may include 4.7, 5.8 inches (OLED), and 5.5 inches. While one model (the high-end OLED device) will feature a glass body, rumors disagree on what the other two models will be made from.

According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has shared several accurate rumors about Apple’s design plans in the past, all three iPhones will feature the same glass-bodied design, with glass instead of aluminum used for the body of the device. Kuo also believes a stainless steel frame will be used in the higher-end iPhone, while less expensive models may get an aluminum frame, but he believes all three models will use glass.

DigiTimes, citing sources within the Taiwanese supply chain, has also predicted Apple will adopt a glass body with a stainless steel frame for improved sturdiness in the iPhone 8. The iPhone 4 and 4s, made with a glass back, also used a stainless steel frame. Bloomberg, a site that often has knowledge of Apple’s plans, has confirmed Apple’s plans to use steel-framed glass for the OLED iPhone.

white-iphone-4

The iPhone 4, introduced in 2010
Japanese site Nikkei also believes Apple will use glass for all three of the iPhones that are in development, but other sources have suggested only one — the OLED model — will have a glass body, while others continue to use an aluminum body.

The CEO of Apple supplier Catcher Technology, Allen Horng, has said “only one model” will adopt a glass casing in 2017, suggesting other non-glass iPhones are in the works. Japanese site Mac Otakara has suggested Apple will sell a 4.7 and 5.5-inch aluminum “iPhone 7s” and “iPhone 7 Plus” with a design that’s largely unchanged from the iPhone 7 with the exception of a new red color option, and DigiTimes predicts a 4.7-inch “iPhone 7s” with an aluminum body to be sold alongside a 5.8-inch OLED iPhone with a glass body and a 5.5-inch model of an unspecified material.

There are two possible outcomes based on the rumors we’re hearing: Either we get three iPhones with glass bodies and wireless charging, with extra features to set the OLED model apart from the standard models, or we get a single OLED model with a glass body sold alongside two standard aluminum devices.

An iPhone 8 rendering based on leaked design schematics
Size wise, while the OLED iPhone will use a larger display panel because it includes no bezels, it may be similar in size to the 4.7-inch iPhone, so it’s reasonable to picture the iPhone 8 as an iPhone 7 with a screen that spans from edge to edge. Apple is also said to be planning to sell a standard 4.7-inch iPhone and a larger 5.5-inch iPhone, both of which will have traditional LCD screens.

Korean site ETNews said the OLED iPhone 8 could potentially use a design that pays homage to the original iPhone, with deep rear curves and a “water drop” shape. The site says the device features a curved glass body that is both gentler and rounder than the design of the existing iPhone 7, similar to the first iPhones that were made, but based on information from Bloomberg, that particular design may have been scrapped in favor of a simpler design.

According to Bloomberg, Apple’s latest prototype design features symmetrical, slightly curved glass on the front and back of the iPhone. The curves are similar in shape to the iPhone 7, with a flat OLED screen and a cover glass that curves into a steel frame. Conceptually, it’s said to be similar to the 2010 iPhone 4, and this is the design we’ve seen most often in leaked schematics, dummy units, and renderings.

Apple tested a design with a thinner steel band and more noticeable curved glass, along with a glass back that had dramatic curves, but because Apple suppliers struggle to produce glass with significant curvature in mass quantities, Apple is said to be more likely to use a simpler design. The company is also testing a design with an aluminum back.

We’ve also seen some design schematics and renderings suggesting Apple could potentially put Touch IDon the back of the iPhone, should plans to put it under the display fall through. Apple is said to be struggling with putting Touch ID under the display, but recent information sourced from Apple supplier TSMC suggests those problems have been worked out.

WATER RESISTANCE

The iPhone 8 may feature an IP68 water resistance rating, an improvement over the IP67 certification earned by the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus. Like the Galaxy S7, which is also IP68 certified, the iPhone 8 might be able to withstand 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes while also offering full dust protection.

That means it will continue to hold up to splashes and brief immersion in water, but customers should still make an effort to avoid water as Apple’s iPhone 7 warranty does not cover water damage and it’s likely the iPhone 8 warranty will also exclude water damage.

The iPhone 8 will reportedly include an “enhanced receiver” at the top of the device that introduces improvements to stereo sound and waterproofing.

Display

At least one iPhone 8 model is expected to include a flexible OLED display and Apple has already signed a deal with Samsung to produce OLED displays for devices set to debut in 2017.

Samsung will provide Apple with an estimated 160 million OLED panels to be used for the rumored ~5-inch OLED iPhone. That will account for approximately 80 percent of all the panels used for the device, and while other companies like AU Optronics, Sharp, Japan Display are working on OLED displays, they won’t be ready for production until 2018, meaning Apple will need to rely heavily on Samsung in 2017.

An OLED display eliminates the need for the backlighting that’s used in traditional LCDs, which would allow Apple to cut down on the thickness and weight of the display used in the device. OLED displays can also be flexible, but it sounds like Apple is planning to use a flat 2.5D display in the iPhone 8.

OLED displays offer better contrast ratio, truer colors, improved viewing angles, better power efficiency to maximize battery life, and a faster response time than an LCD for faster refresh rates. On the downside, OLED displays don’t have the lifespan of an LCD display and they’re more prone to water damage, two issues Apple will need to overcome. Apple already uses OLED displays in the Apple Watch.

applewatch1

The Apple Watch has an AMOLED display
There are multiple rumors about the size and type of the panels Apple will be using, and rumors indicate Apple is testing more than 10 iPhone prototypes. While we’ve heard several rumors pointing towards different display sizes, information seems to be solidifying around a screen size of 5.8 inches, with a smaller active display area.

Because Apple has tested so many design prototypes for the iPhone 8, we’ve heard a lot of mixed information on the design of the display. On the whole, it’s sounding like the display will perhaps be somewhat curved (similar to the existing iPhone 7) with a very small bezel in the range of a few millimeters.

Multiple rumors suggest Apple will implement an edge-to-edge display, which means the iPhone will have no top, bottom, or side bezels, with the display taking up the entire front of the device. It will look like a single piece of glass.

Sensors like Touch ID and the front-facing camera may be embedded in the display, invisible to the naked eye, and there will be no iconic Home button on the device. Apple has been working on developing touch and display driver (TDDI) chips since 2015, so it’s definitely possible that the iPhone 8 will have no Home button, and Apple has also patented a method for embedding Touch ID and an ambient light sensor in the display. The company is said to be having trouble implementing Touch ID under the display, however, so it is still unclear if this will pan out.

According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the OLED iPhone 8 will feature a 5.8-inch display, but with no bezels, that 5.8-inch display will fit a device that’s similar in size to the 4.7-inch iPhone 7. Kuo believes the iPhone 8 will have 5.15 inches of active screen space, with the additional space taken up by virtual buttons that replace the current physical Home button and other features, a prediction echoed by The Wall Street Journal. Kuo lays out his size predictions in the diagram below:

Based on Kuo’s description, the iPhone 8 can be thought of as having a screen the size of the 5.5-inch iPhone in a form factor that’s the size of the 4.7-inch iPhone. Imagining an iPhone 7 Plus that features just a display and no bezels is a good way of conceptualizing what the iPhone 8 might look like.

With the edge-to-edge display, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes Apple will continue to use a 2.5D display, like the display in the iPhone 7. Japanese site Nikkei has echoed Kuo’s prediction and also expects Apple to use a 5.8-inch display.

Kuo does not believe we will see a radically curved display, but other rumors have predicted dramatic curves that cover the sides of the device. A rumor from The Wall Street Journal, a respectable publication that’s often accurate, suggests a curved display but doesn’t go into detail on what that means design wise. In the past, the 2.5D display of the iPhone 6 and 7 has been described as “curved,” so it is sometimes difficult to decipher just what a curved display means when it pops up in rumors.

Nikkei Asian Review, for example, says the iPhone 8 will feature a curved OLED display, but with a gentler curvature than the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. Technically, that sounds similar to what other sources have described — a curve like the slight curve of the existing iPhone 7.

The site does, however, say that Apple “would not be using OLED optimally” if it implemented a display like existing models, but Nikkei appears to expect a display that is slightly curved beneath the edges of the 2.5D cover glass, a curve not nearly as significant as the curve on the Galaxy S7. Nikkei, like Kuo, expects the curved screen to allow for a viewable area of 5.2 inches.

Taken all together, it sounds like a lot of the display rumors are saying the same thing, though it can seem quite different due to the confusion over and the different interpretation of the word curve. Based on what we’re hearing, we expect an OLED iPhone 8 with a display that’s just slightly curved downwards at the edges but mostly flat.

According to information said to be shared by a source at Apple supplier TSMC, the iPhone 8 will feature a 18.5:9 aspect ratio instead of a 16:9 aspect ratio. That’s the same aspect ratio the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus use.

As previously mentioned, Apple is rumored to be planning on debuting three devices, one premium model with an OLED display and two standard models that use traditional LCD panels. While there is confusion over the size and curvature of the OLED panel, the LCD iPhones are expected to be 4.7 and 5.5 inches, the same size (and design) as the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

All three of the iPhone models set to be released in 2017 could include True Tone displays, according to Barclays analysts. A “full spectral sensing” ambient light sensor will enable “True Tone” colors that will adjust the display to the light in its surrounding environment. The current-generation iPad Pro was the first device to include a True Tone display, an example of which is below.

In a room with fluorescent lights, for example, the iPhone’s display might appear more blue, while in a room with warmer incandescent lights, the display would appear slightly more yellow.

A USB-C Port Instead of a Lightning Port?

According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple will replace the Lightning connector in the iPhone with a USB-C port, bringing it in line with the MacBook and the MacBook Pro.

That’s not a rumor we’ve heard previously, but The Wall Street Journal is a reputable source that often accurately predicts Apple’s plans. Unfortunately, a second well-known source, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, says The Wall Street Journal‘s report is inaccurate and that all three upcoming iPhone 8 models will continue to include Lightning ports. Analyst Timothy Arcuri has also seconded Kuo’s report, suggesting Lightning across the board.

Given that The Wall Street Journal provided so little information on the replacement of the Lightning port with USB-C (it’s just one line in a wider story on a curved OLED display), and the fact that its removal sounds a bit far-fetched, Kuo’s information is more believable at this point in time.

While a Lightning port is expected, Kuo believes Apple could implement USB Type-C Power Delivery technology (while still using the Lightning port) to offer a fast charging feature that would allow the iPhone to charge more quickly. Fast charging is already a feature available in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro using a Lightning to USB-C cable.

Barclays analyst Blayne Curtis agrees with Kuo and believes Apple will stick to Lightning. He thinks Apple may introduce a Lightning to USB-C adapter in European countries, though, to adhere to a the European Commission’s “one mobile phone charger for all” campaign. Apple is also said to be planning to continue to offer a Lightning to headphone jack adapter alongside the iPhone 8 so customers have a way to use traditional headphones with the device.

Processor

All iPhone models coming in 2017 are expected to use Apple’s A11 chip, including the OLED iPhone 8 and the more modest 4.7 and 5.5-inch iPhones (which could be called the iPhone 7s and the iPhone 7s Plus).

TSMC began production on Apple’s A11 processor in May 2017. TSMC initially wanted to start production in April, but production was reportedly delayed due to issues with the 10-nanometer FinFET manufacturing process. The A11 chip is expected to be both faster and more power efficient than the current A10, manufactured on a 16-nanometer process. It could introduce speedier performance and better battery life.

Wireless Charging

Early iPhone 8 rumors suggested Apple was working on long-range wireless charging technology that could be implemented as soon as 2017, but more recent information and speculation suggests that instead of long-range wireless charging techniques, Apple will instead use an inductive-style wireless charging solution (similar to the Apple Watch) for the device.

Apple in February joined the Wireless Power Consortium, which is committed to the open development of the Qi wireless charging standard that’s widely used in devices like the Samsung Galaxy line, and Apple has filed dozens of patents for inductive charging. Dozens of hires with expertise in wireless charging have also joined the company in recent months.

Apple is rumored to have at least five different groups in its company working on implementing wireless charging technology in the next iPhone.

The Apple Watch uses inductive charging
The company’s plan to use a glass body hints that inductive charging will be used, as glass would be required to allow charging through a magnetic coil. With an aluminum body, inductive charging would not work as well.

There’s also evidence that Apple is seeking components that point towards an inductive charging solution. Lite-On Semiconductor is rumored to be providing integrated chip components for the wireless charging module in the iPhone 8. The manufacturer will reportedly supply bridge rectifiers needed to reduce thermal issues and maintain efficiency in wireless power transmission, and Apple is also perhaps sourcing components from MediaTek, Foxconn, Pegatron, and Luxshare. Foxconn and Pegatron are said to be manufacturing the charging bases that will be used with the iPhone.

In addition to confusion over the charging method Apple will use, there are also questions about how it will be implemented. It’s been assumed that it will be built into the iPhone, but we’ve heard a few rumors that suggest the wireless charging capabilities will be enabled through a separate accessory that needs to be purchased separately.

Most recently, Japanese site Mac Otakara said Apple would use a wireless charging accessory designed using technology sourced from Luxshare, a company that has reportedly provided components for the Apple Watch in the past.

According to JPMorgan analyst Harlan Sur, Apple and Broadcom are working together on a customized wireless charging system, but it is not clear if the feature will be included in the 2017 iPhone or a later device.

It’s possible Apple considered long-range wireless charging techniques but has not yet been able to perfect the solution, which would explain the mixed rumors.

Long-range wireless charging technology offers the benefit of not requiring a charging source, but there are obstacles to overcome such as the loss of power transfer efficiency that occurs when the distance between the transmitter and the receiver is increased. This causes batteries further away from a charging source to charge more slowly.

There was speculation suggesting Apple is working with a partner, possibly Energous, a company that’s developed a long-range wireless charging solution called WattUp, but there’s been no hard evidence. Energous CEO Steve Rizzone has encouraged such rumors claiming the company has inked a deal with “one of the largest consumer electronic companies in the world,” but it continues to be unclear if that partner is Apple.

Regardless of the wireless charging method used, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that all new iPhones are likely to support wireless charging next year, including the 4.7-inch model, the larger 5.5-inch model, and the high-end OLED model, as does Susquehanna analyst Christopher Rolland. Japanese site Mac Otakara disagrees, however, and says wireless charging will only be available in the higher-end OLED iPhone.

Other Features

BIOMETRICS

According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who often accurately predicts Apple’s plans, the iPhone 8 could include more advanced biometric features such as facial recognition or iris scanning, perhaps powered by a new front-facing camera system. Kuo has not elaborated on what additional biometric features would be used for, but presumably these would be alternate methods for accessing the iPhone or adding additional layers of protection.

Kuo also believes Apple will introduce new Touch ID technology for the iPhone 8, which will be built under the glass of the display and will “enhance transactions security.” He predicts Apple will switch from a capacitive Touch ID system to an optical system, and according to Taiwanese site DigiTimes, Apple will introduce new fingerprint recognition technology developed in-house. Rumors suggested Apple was struggling to implement Touch ID under the glass and could delay the feature, but Apple supplier TSMC said in late May that the iPhone 8 would indeed have under-glass Touch ID.

Citing unnamed “industry sources,” DigiTimes claims the iPhone 8 will include iris scanning technology, allowing users to unlock their devices with an eye scan. DigiTimes originally said the iris scanning function would not be ready until 2018, but later updated that prediction to 2017. The site does not have the most solid track record when it comes to Apple rumors, so it remains unclear if iris scanning is something we can expect this year. DigiTimes has also stated that other technologies like ultrasound for facial recognition are a possibility.

Sources from Apple supplier TSMC have allegedly said the iPhone 8 will feature additional biometric authentication features like iris or facial recognition to augment Touch ID. The feature will reportedly be implemented through a high pixel-density front-facing camera with next-generation 3D sensing capabilities.

Apple is rumored to be sourcing iris scanning chips from Taiwan-based supplier Xintec, with Xintec planning to begin mass production on the component in 2017.

According to Fast Company, Apple is working with Lumentum to develop 3D sensing technology that will be included in the iPhone 8, but it is not clear how the feature will be used. It could be used for facial recognition, augmented reality, or camera improvements.

Cowen and Company analyst Timothy Arcuri believes the iPhone 8 could include facial and gesture recognition capabilities, which could be powered by a laser and infrared sensor located near the front-facing camera.

JPMorgan analyst Rod Hall believes Apple will eliminate Touch ID in the iPhone 8, replacing it with a 3D facial recognition feature that uses a front-facing 3D laser scanner, but this is highly unlikely.

Hall’s reasoning is that there will be no Touch ID fingerprint sensor because there won’t be a Home button, but Apple has patented techniques for building optical fingerprint scanning into the display. Facial recognition has benefits that include being able to unlock the iPhone even with wet hands. In the future, Hall speculates that the alleged 3D laser scanner could potentially be used for other purposes like augmented reality, but he does not believe this will happen until at least 2018.

STORAGE

The iPhone 8 is expected to include NAND flash memory from Samsung, but it is not clear what improvements it might bring. With the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, Apple introduced a 256GB storage option, and it’s possible additional increases could be included in the iPhone 8.

One rumor has suggested the iPhone 8 will include increased storage space, which could make the device more expensive than previous-generation iPhone models, and another rumor says it will be available in 64 and 256GB capacities.

RAM

Like the iPhone 7 Plus, the iPhone 8 is rumored to include 3GB RAM. While one rumor suggests only the high-end OLED model will include 3GB RAM, Cowen & Co analyst Timothy Arcuri believes all three models, including the 4.7 and 5.5-inch devices, will offer 3GB RAM. Arcuri does not explain why Apple might make this choice, but it could be to support improved camera features.

TAPTIC ENGINE

An enhanced Taptic engine is one of the features that could be included in the 2017 iPhone, according to a report from Japanese site Nikkei. Apple is said to be working on a “high-performance motor” that’s able to “create more complex tactile vibrations.”

Such an engine would perhaps be necessary if Apple is indeed eliminating the Home button in the iPhone 8, as has been rumored. Haptic feedback could offer vibrations to denote triggers like the unlocking of the iPhone and the confirmation of a Touch ID payment, two features currently tied to the physical iPhone Home button.

3D TOUCH

With Apple implementing glass bodies for the iPhone and introducing at least one OLED display, new 3D Touch technology may be required. According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will need to use a new 3D Touch module with “additional graphite sheet lamination” for heat reduction.

BATTERY LIFE

We’ve heard few rumors on the prospective battery life of the iPhone 8, but one rumor from Fast Companysays the device will include a “far bigger battery,” which could result in improved battery life. A larger battery could also be implemented to power features like an OLED display or new biometric features that are rumored, though, so longer battery life is not a guarantee.

Apple is said to be planning to use a stacked logic board design that will support longer battery life. With the improved logic board, the iPhone 8 will be able to offer the same battery life traditionally available in the 5.5-inch iPhone in a device the size of the 4.7-inch iPhone. An L-shaped two-cell battery pack with a capacity around 2,700 mAh could be included.

Battery life could be further improved through the use of a more energy efficient OLED panel.

REAR CAMERAS

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that the dual-lens camera introduced in the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus will continue to be a feature exclusive to “high-end” iPhone models in 2017.

Kuo predicts a 4.7-inch iPhone with a single camera, a 5.5-inch model with a dual-lens camera, and an OLED model in an unspecified size with a dual-lens camera.

He believes that future models will include optical image stabilization (OIS) for both the wide-angle and telephoto lenses. In the iPhone 7 Plus, only the wide-angle lens features OIS. The camera in the 2017 iPhone could also support 3D photography effects if Apple opts to use an LG camera module.

According to Japanese site Mac Otakara, the high-end 5-inch iPhone Apple plans on introducing could adopt a new vertical dual camera arrangement instead of a horizontal dual camera system. A vertical dual camera has also been seen on alleged iPhone 8 design schematics and has been confirmed by Bloomberg, so with multiple sources pointing towards a vertical dual camera, it seems to be a likely feature for the OLED iPhone 8.

A vertical rear camera could potentially result in improved photos and it could enable augmented-reality based features.

FRONT-FACING CAMERA

For the front-facing camera of the OLED iPhone, Apple is said to be testing a dual-lens camera system, similar to the dual lens setup in the iPhone 7 Plus, allowing for improved front-facing images.

Rumors suggest the front-facing camera of the iPhone 8 will use a “revolutionary” system consisting of three modules that enable 3D sensing and facial recognition capabilities powered by PrimeSense technology. LG will reportedly supply 3D facial recognition modules for the iPhone 8’s front-facing camera.

The camera is rumored to include an infrared transmitting module, an infrared receiving module, and a traditional camera. With the infrared additions, the camera will be able to find the location and depth of objects placed in front of it, technology that could be used for facial and iris recognition or for future AR capabilities. It could perhaps be located under the iPhone display, technology Apple has been exploring.

SIRI

The iPhone 8 may feature enhanced Siri functionality according to a rumor from DigiTimes. It’s not clear what an enhanced version of Siri would be able to do, but it could include an overall refinement to the personal assistant’s ability to respond to contextual requests and other dialogue.

Apple is said to be taking advantage of technology it acquired when it purchased AI startup Turi in August of 2016. It’s not clear if improved Siri capabilities will be introduced in iOS 11 and available for multiple devices or tied specifically to the iPhone 8

Release Date

For the last several years, Apple has released its iPhone updates in September, so we expect to see the the new lineup unveiled in September of 2017, but there have been many rumors pointing towards launch delays and supply shortages.

One of the latest launch rumors comes from Chinese site Economic Daily News, suggesting Apple will launch the iPhone in September as scheduled, but that it won’t be available for sale until October. Economic Daily News originally said the iPhone 8 could be delayed until October or November because of technical issues with the display lamination process, but has now reversed course and does not believe there are serious delays. Other warnings about iPhone supply have been more dire.

According to information shared by Barclays analysts, the 5.8-inch OLED iPhone will be in short supplywhen it launches in September, but the analysts do believe a release will happen during the standard September time frame. Full stock may not be available until later in the fourth quarter, however, a rumor that Bloomberg and Ming-Chi Kuo agree with.

According to Kuo, the OLED iPhone will face “severe supply shortages” for some time. He believes production ramp up for the device won’t begin until as late as October-November, two months later than previous ramp-ups in August-September. The heaviest demand could be pushed back until as far as the first quarter of 2018, with many users unable to get their hands on the device until that time due to constraints. Kuo recently doubled down on supply shortage rumors and has said there’s a possibility for a “worst case scenario.”

Not all analysts believe there will be delays, as Morgan Stanley says its Greater China Technology Research colleagues have “not yet seen delays in the supply chain.” Morgan Stanley believes iPhone production will start on time for most components, including the iPhone 8’s OLED display.

Apple reportedly signed a two-year contract with Samsung to supply up to 92 million curved OLED panels to ramp up production ahead of the release of the iPhone 8. Earlier rumors said Apple had ordered 70 million panels, from Samsung, but upped its order to account for high demand.

Japanese site Mac Otakara believes the iPhone 8 may not go on sale until later in the year, perhaps launching “very much” behind due to the switch to an OLED display and the new technology needed. In that scenario, we’d see the launch of an iPhone 7s and 7s Plus in September as scheduled, with the higher-end iPhone 8 coming later in the year.

Apple analyst Brian White believes Apple will allow the high-end OLED iPhone 8 to be pre-ordered starting until September, but he does not believe deliveries will start until “several weeks later.” It will deliver “in time for the December holidays,” but will be delayed due to “challenges around 3D sensing technology.”

Apple is reportedly struggling with integrating the Touch ID fingerprint sensor underneath the glass of the iPhone 8, which could potentially lead to production delays or the relocation of the Touch ID sensor, perhaps to the back of the device.

PRICING

Multiple rumors have suggested the iPhone 8 could be the most expensive iPhone Apple’s produced yet, with several analysts predicting prices upwards of $1,000 and labeling the device as “premium.”

Factors like the OLED display, wireless charging, new biometric features, and camera improvements are believed to drive up the price, causing Apple to need to charge more. The 3D Touch components, for example, are said to be 150 percent higher than the 3D Touch components used in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes the OLED iPhone will cost in excess of $1,000, as does an inside source that spoke to Fast Company.

Goldman Sachs analyst Simona Jankowski believes the iPhone 8 will be available in 128GB and 256GB capacities, for $999 and $1,099, respectively, which isn’t too much of a stretch because the 256GB iPhone 7 Plus already sells for $969.

UBS analyst Steven Milunovich disagrees with rumors of a premium price, predicting Apple will keep iPhone 8 pricing competitive with Samsung’s most recent Galaxy S8+. He thinks Apple will sell a 64GB iPhone 8 for $850 to $900 and a higher-end 256GB model for $950 to $1,000.

Analysts are basically just guessing on iPhone pricing based on rumors of a radical redesign, but given the abundance of rumors, some from trusted sources, there could be some truth behind the predictions.

Beyond the iPhone 8

We’re months away from the launch of the iPhone 8, but we’re already hearing iPhone 9 rumors. According to information sourced from Apple and Samsung’s supply chain deal, the iPhone 9 could feature OLED displays in the following sizes: 5.28 inches and 6.46 inches. Samsung will reportedly supply 180 million OLED display units.

In future iPhones, coming in 2018 and beyond, Apple could adopt foldable displays produced by LG. LG is planning to start mass-producing foldable displays for smartphones in 2018 and Apple is rumored to be a partner.

lg-folding-display

Apple is also rumored to be mulling a partnership with Japan Display. Japan Display is developing flexible LCD panels that will be ready in 2018 and could be used in future iPhone models.

In the future, Apple is said to be aiming to make all of its iPhones with OLED displays, not just a single high-end model. An all-OLED lineup could happen by 2019.

Future iPhones could include an “Apple Neural Engine” chip designed to power AI functions in the device. This would offload demanding AI processing tasks to a secondary processor, allowing Apple to conserve battery life. It’s not entirely clear when Apple will be ready to implement its AI chip in iPhones and other devices.

In 2018, Apple may add iris scanning capabilities to the iPhone, which could be used alongside of or in place of Touch ID. Like a fingerprint, each person’s iris is unique and so iris scanning can be used for identification purposes.

Iris scanning is also a feature that has been rumored for the 2017 iPhone, so it’s not clear when the iPhone could potentially gain these capabilities, if ever. Iris scanning rumors have come from two sources, but with the 2017 and 2018 iPhones still far off, Apple’s plans could change.

iPhone 8 Timeline

JUNE2017
Roundup Last Updated
MAY2017
apples-iphone-8-coming-in-2017

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