The iPhone X was just released and the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus dropped right before it, but everyone's already gearing up for the next big iPhone from Apple coming out in 2018. Yes, that's right. The rumor mill regarding the iPhone X's successor has already started churning out speculations on names, cameras, display size, and more.
It's expected that the next big iPhone models from Apple will carry a lot of the features that the 10th-anniversary edition has, from features to aesthetics and form factor. As we've come to rely on from Apple, these things will all carry improvements over the last model, big and small, with some extra juicy tidbits, but what exactly will we be holding in our hands come fall of 2018?
It's still early in the game, so any information about the upcoming 2018 iPhones will naturally be few and far between. That means all of the rumors and leaks must be taken with a grain of salt, at least until we get closer to the assumed fall 2018 release. That said, here's what we know so far on the upcoming 2018 iPhone.
As far as its announcement and release are concerned, it's safe to assume that the next iPhones will be introduced to the world around September 2018 and released for sale later that month or early in November. This is. of course, if we follow Apple's historical pattern.
Latest rumors point out that Apple will release three models of the iPhone next year, just like they did with the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X. According to famed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities on Nov. 13, there will be a nearly identical successor to the iPhone X at 5.8 inches, a "Plus" size variant at 6.5 inches, and a mid-size one at 6.1 inches.
Kuo also said on Nov. 13 that the 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch models will retain the X's all-screen OLED Multi-Touch display, known as the Super Retina HD display, while the mid-size 6.1-inch model will be a standard LCD Multi-Touch display with IPS technology, just like the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus Retina HD displays. While the mockup below shows an almost bezel-less design for the LCD model, it's likely to have bigger bezels on the top and bottom to keep the LCD in place.
This year's batch of iPhones may come with smaller notches, if rumors are to be trusted. According to ETNews, LG Innotec, which manufactures facial recognition modules for the current iPhone X, plans to invest a further $821 million into its facilities.
This significant investment seems to be geared towards developing more advanced camera modules that will combine separate sensors such as RGB cameras and infrared scanners into one assembly. Reducing the number of modules in turn should lead to a smaller notch on the top of the upcoming iPhone's screen.
To back these claims up, MacRumors reports that along with the rollout of three distinct models, this year's batch of iPhones will most likely have smaller notches to make its displays more uniform in appearance. This vital piece of information was sourced from a research note issued by Barclays analysts Blayne Curtis, Andrew Gardiner, Hiral Patel, and Joseph Wolf. According to their notes:
Based on several data points within the 4Q17 reporting period and our supply chain meetings at CES, we remain confident that Apple is set to deploy its TrueDepth 3D sensor across the iPhone range in 2018...
We do expect the sensor to evolve slightly, potentially reducing in size (i.e., smaller notch) and improving in specificity … helping to further drive very strong growth for some Apple suppliers in 2H18 as the second generation of sensor ships in this year's new iPhones.
The next generation's official name is still currently unknown. Apple may very well decide to reinstate the interim "S" line of devices now that its first decade of existence is in its rearview mirror. If that's the case, we might be looking at an iPhone XS and iPhone XS Plus, but where does that leave the third model?
To be honest, they could really come up with anything for these three models. We have yet to be in a situation like this, where there is a model number jump, so there's less of a chance of any of these being called an iPhone 9. Still, here are some possible combinations, in order from 5.8-inch (the real X successor) to 6.5-inch (the Plus model) to 6.1-inch (a cheaper model).
- iPhone XS, iPhone XS Plus, iPhone 9
- iPhone XS, iPhone 9 Plus, iPhone 9
- iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Plus, iPhone 11S
- iPhone XS, iPhone 11 Plus, iPhone 11
- iPhone XS, iPhone XS Plus, iPhone 11
- iPhone 11S, iPhone 11 Plus, iPhone 11
- iPhone XS, iPhone XS Plus, iPhone XC
- iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Plus, iPhone 11C
They might end up going with one of those last two groups, since the "Plus" sized model looks to copy a lot from the smaller X successor. That leaves us with the oddball out, the LCD version, where the "C" could mean "cost" or "cheap," though they could come out with another letter to signify it differently, such as "L" for "LCD."
Reports suggest that the TrueDepth feature found on the iPhone X's selfie camera might eventually make its way to the rear camera, too. According to GSMArena on Nov. 14, iPhones starting from 2019 onwards will carry their own 3D sensor to further enhance Apple's ARKit and give infinitely more accurate measurements of distance as opposed to estimates given by the current camera setup.
The company is allegedly talking to several component suppliers and evaluating its options.
While that seems far away, it's also entirely possible that Apple can get this working in time for at least one or two of the upcoming 2018 models. I mean, Apple's Animojis will only keep us occupied for so long.
In another statement by Kuo on Nov. 2, the 2018 iPhones will likely utilize the same 6P lens design currently found on the iPhone X as opposed to employing more advanced designs. The term 6P refers to a 6-element lens, or 6 lenses made of plastic.
With its rear camera specs, iPhone X has managed to strike a phenomenal balance between picture quality and form factor design, in our opinion, given how far we've come today technologically. Switching from a 6P lens to a 7P lens or a 2G3P hybrid lens, with camera module design largely similar to iPhone X's, would make for only limited improvements in aperture performance, we believe.
Switching over to a newer 7P or hybrid lens technology would present strain on the 2018 iPhone's supply chain that simply isn't worth the minor improvements as stated above. In the end, Kuo believes that "Apple intends to avoid making manufacturing decisions that could lead to a repeat of this year's supply-constrained iPhone X launch."
In yet another research note from Kuo on Nov. 6, he states that the 2018 iPhone will have a redesigned metal frame that consists of more parts than the current iPhone X, primarily to improve reception and data transmission quality.
Apple has placed with Catcher Technology and Casetek are for two frames, one for a phone like the current iPhone X, and another for an iPhone X-like model with a larger screen.
If this turns out to be true, the next generation iPhone may very well be able to support faster downloads comparable to the rumored S9's 6CA capability which will let it download data at speeds of 1.2 Gbps.
In a separate research note to investors on Nov. 17, Kuo claims that the next-generation iPhone models will include Intel XXM 7560 and Qualcomm Snapdragon X20 modems. While this doesn't sound much, these new modems will enable faster data transmission speeds because both new chips support 4x4 MIMO technology. Currently, previous iPhone models only supported 2x2 MIMO.
In the same research note referring to new modems on Nov. 17, Kuo also predicted that at least one of the new iPhone models in 2018 will come with dual-SIM, dual standby (DSDS) capabilities that support LTE+LTE connections. Most DSDS phones support only LTE+3G right now. Likely, one SIM will be embedded in the iPhone and the other removable, but it'd be nice if they were both removable.
Recent reports suggest that the mid-range LCD-equipped iPhones will be priced well within the range of the current iPhone 8 series. Apple Insider has recently reported that according to Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will price of upcoming 2018 iPhones with Retina displays anywhere between $699 and $799.
Ming-Chi Kuo didn't elaborate on the cost for the AMOLED-equipped model, however. But given how much the current iPhone X costs, It'll likely be at least $1,000. So unless you want to go back to LCD-quality screens, you better start saving now.
That's all we have so far with regards to the yet-to-be-named 2018 iPhone. With the end of 2017 upon us, be sure to check back often as we get more details regarding this premium flagship phone. What do you think about the next-generation iPhone, and what features would you like for Apple to improve upon or include on its newest premium smartphone? Let us know in the comments section below.